VISITING THE GRAND PALACE AND WAT PHRA KAEW – Bangkok, Thailand

One of Bangkok’s most popular temples, the Grand Palace is a must for all tourists and is very near Khao San Road. 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.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

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.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

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.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

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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Showing 18 comments
  • Natasha Welch
    Reply

    Wow this looks like such an awesome place, heard a lot about the grand palace in Bangkok recently! Really love all the history and backstory that you give- gives way more texture to the post. Also, your pictures are spectacular, amazing job <3

  • Juliette | Snorkels To Snow
    Reply

    I just LOVE looking at photos of temples like this! The detail in the carvings is so incredible and the history is fascinating. Awesome work. Great pictures too!

  • Deni
    Reply

    Absoutely stunning photos, Katie!! Good tip on not taking photos of the Buddha, it’s good to know before arrival! Also great tip about the tuk tuks! I wouldn’t want them to direct me away from my destination because they’ll make some more money off of me. I’ve always wanted to see the temples in Thailand, so thanks for such an informative post! Also, are there any shorts or dress length requirements of the dress code for women?

  • Kreete
    Reply

    WOW! Look at that gallery in the end! Such great photos! I am surprised you need at least half a day for this, but I suppose it’s a big place. I would love to see that Thai architecture and the Emerald Buddha one day myself. Thanks for sharing!

  • Sasha
    Reply

    Oh wow, your pictures are stunning!!! I didn’t end up visiting when I was in Bangkok as I thought the price was too high (in the real world its not but you know when you get in the mindset of the cheap prices and you get outraged at normal prices? ha). I wish I paid it now though, looks gorgeous!

  • Lydia@LifeUntraveled
    Reply

    I was amazed by the intricate mosaic work all over the Grand Palace! It was even more beautiful when the sun shone making everything shine. I did find it overpriced but Thailand is so inexpensive in general so it was worth it.

  • Courtney Jones
    Reply

    Grand Palace looks awesome! Great tips on how to get there – I think I would try to avoid crazy Bangkok traffic and go early!

  • Khansa
    Reply

    Thai architecture is really unique. Its so different from all the places I have ever been. Is it the official palace of the King or is there another one too?

  • Tracy
    Reply

    I missed the Grand Palace when I went to Bangkok. I heard that it was busy and yes have to be there earlier to beat the crowds. But it is worth to go there from what I see from your photos. Beautiful palace indeed!

    • Katie
      Reply

      Thanks for the lovely comment, it is definitely worth a visit!

  • Kim
    Reply

    The Grand Palace always gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, it is really an awesome sight, I always wonder what it must have been like for the first european to have seen it. On the other, the generally good attitude I have toward Thais is spoiled here because there are so many cheats and scams. Essentially, if anybody talks to you who isn’t in a uniform, don’t believe ANY of what they’re told. I was informed that the palace entrance was in the opposite direction that I was walking.

    • Katie
      Reply

      Hi Kim, I completely see what you mean. We love Thailand as a whole but it is so frustrating that you can get scammed or over charged. We live in China and it has similar beauty but 9 times out of 10, you aren’t over charged, the locals are honest and helpful and you can get around easily. In Thailand, it is always the taxi thing where you either get overcharged or told to go via someones shop!

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