One of Bangkok’s most popular temples, the Grand Palace is a must for all tourists. As the previous home to Bangkok’s Kings and their Court, the Grand Palace is a luxurious and expansive complex that can take some time to properly admire and explore; set aside at least half a day. Built in 1782, the Grand Palace was home to the Thai King and Royal Court for 150 years and is still used for royal ceremonies and national events.
As you walk into the Grand Palace, you will move through the Outer Court and admire the colourful sculptures and decorative buildings. You can also see the famous Emerald Buddha but be aware that pictures in this temple are prohibited; this is because it is a sacred Buddha of the religion. The story goes that the statue surfaced in Northern Thailand when lightning struck a Chediin (the Bamboo Forest Monastery) revealing a Buddha covered in material called stucco. It was later noticed that the stucco was starting to flake off, revealing a green emerald stone; giving it the name of the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Phra Kaew (or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Royal Palace stand in close proximity and both offer beautiful and different, contrasting Thai styles. You may be able to take a look at the throne halls but these aren’t always open. The Inner Courts is where the King’s royal consorts and daughters lived. It is completely closed off the public. You can also visit the Royal Reception Halls and catch a changing of the guard. Visitors are permitted inside the European styled reception known as the Grand Palace Hall.
Admission costs 400B and includes entrance to the Vimanmek Mansion. There is a strict dress code with men not permitted to wear shorts and tank tops whilst woman can not show bare shoulders or wear see-through clothing. Socks must be worn with your footwear and appropriate clothes can be found at a booth near the entrance. The palace is open from 8.30am to 3.30pm and it is advised you arrive before opening time to beat the crowds.
Ignore any Tuk Tuk drivers who tell you that the Palace is closed, they will try and offer you a trip to another temple or store and receive commission for doing so – instead head straight for the front entrance and ignore Tuk Tuk drivers.
You can get to the Grand Palace fairly easily via boat, taking the Chaophraya Express Boat to Chang Pier. Taxi and Tuk Tuks maybe a good choice if leaving early but be aware that traffic can be awful from 11am onwards in Bangkok and not all taxis will charge you by the meter if you are a tourist. Some may prefer a hassle free trip and choose to book a tour with Viator.
Don’t forget to check out the unusual food of Khao San Road!
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