The Grand Palace – Bangkok
You may hear tales of it being incredibly busy. It is.
You may hear of scams where friendly locals or taxi drivers help you beat the crowds or even telling you it is closed for the day. They do exist.
However, ignore the scam artists, get there early and enjoy the magnificent Palace and temples of this must see attraction. See more Grand Palace pictures here.
King Rama I decided that the former capital of Thonburi on the west side of the river was no longer suitable and so established the new capital, building work starting on the Grand Palace in 1782. Covering more than 218,000 square metres andd surrounded on all four sides by hugh walls, the Palace was not only the centre for Royal Family but also many parts of the Government. The Royal Family have not lived in the palace since 1925.
The Grand Palace are made up of three zones, Outer, Middle and Inner Courts and you will probably spend most of your time in the Outer Court where government departments were housed which required the kings involvement and where the major attractions are. Only two of the throne halls are open to the public in the Central Court which is where the king used to reside. The inner court is not open to the public and is where the King’s royal consorts and daughters lived.
The Temple of The Emerald Buddha also known as Wat Phra Kaew, was established by King Rama I in 1782. This temple is located in the area of the Outer Palace. Carved from a block of jasper, it measures 66cm high and is in a northern Thai style probably from the 15th century. It has three different costumes depending on the season. It is regarded as the most important Buddha image in Thailand.
The official Grand Palace website includes a useful map of the attractions withing the grounds together with pictures that help give an idea of the scale of the site and buildings.
What You Need to Know
The Grand Palace is open 7 days a week from 8.30am to 4.30pm although the entrance will close at 3.30pm. I advise getting there early to beat the worse of the crowds and heat. Entrance fee for non-Thais is 500 Baht.
Bangkok is hot, you are going to be outside, in crowds of people, for a number of hours. Wear sunscreen. Wear a hat to protect your head. Drink lots of water throughout the day.
As with most crowded places around the world crime, especially pickpockets, does take place, especially in crowded areas outside of the grounds. Take care with your belongings and only take with you what you really need.
The Dress Code is vitally important at the Grand Palace, as it is with most temples. You may not be allowed in if you do not follow the rules carefully.
Men need to wear long trousers. For women skirts must be no shorter than just above the knees. Sleeveless shirts or vests are not allowed, nor are short tops or any clothing that is revealing. Legwear mustn’t be torn or too tight. Avoid any religious symbols on clothing, that t-shirt you bought on a Bangkok market stall with Buddhist imagery will not be allowed.
Some sites recommend you wear shoes or sandals with socks as you will need to remove footwear before entering some buildings, however in my experience they do tend to be ok with people wearing flip flops and no socks.
Usually there will be the chance to hire a sarong to cover up if necessary or they may point you in the direction of nearby market stalls who will gladly sell you more appropriate clothing, at an inflated price.
Where is it?
How to Get There
Most people will be tempted to get a taxi (make sure they use their meter) or even arrange transport or a guide through their hotel. Remember the streets can be incredibly busy and a relatively short journey can take much longer than expected.
Fear not there are other ways of getting there.
If you are staying in the Khao San Road area you could choose to walk to the main gates – around 20 – 25 minutes.
If you are staying further afield then a great option is to jump onto the river taxi. You can get on at any pier but most tourists will head to Central Pier which is easily accessed by the Saphan Takin BTS station. Jump on the river taxi and enjoy the sites, you will even get a glimpse of the Palace before you leave the taxi at either Tha Chang (N9) or Maharaj Pier. Once you are back on dry land turn right and take the short walk to the Palace.
Next door to the Grand Palace (10 minute walk south) is Wat Pho which is home to the incredible 15 metre tall and 46 metre long Reclining Buddha alongside the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. This is also an excellent location for a relaxing post Grand Palace Thai Massage and even has a world renowned school for Thai Massage on site.
Wat Mahathat is to the north of the Palace and is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. It is a popular place to learn meditation with classes taking place a number of times a day with English speaking monks.
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