The Grand Palace located in the old city of Bangkok on the banks of the Chao Phraya river is one of the must see sites of Thailand. This complex is one of the most famous landmarks of the country and offers spectacular buildings and sacred sites.
History of the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is a magnificent complex of buildings of great significance. Construction of the complex began in 1782 when King Rama I decided to move the capital of Thailand from Thonburi to an area known as Rattanakosin island on the East side of the Chao Phraya river.
The complex is surrounded by 1,900 meters long walls and houses among others Royal residences, the throne halls and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It housed the center of government and the Royal Court and became the center of the Kingdom.
The Grand Palace served as the official residence of Thai Kings until the reign of King Chulalongkorn at the end of the 19th century.
Today the Palace is used for a number of Royal rituals, state banquets and other official functions. Some parts of the Palace like the Inner Court are not open to the public.
Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall & Borom Phiman Mansion
The two oldest buildings are the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall and the Phra Maha Monthian. The main function of the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall built by King Rama I is to host the lying in state ceremony for Kings, Queens and members of the Royal Family. During this ceremony a large number of people can pay their respects to the deceased.
One of the most recent buildings is the Borom Phiman Mansion which was built early 20th century by King Rama V. This building is build in western style and was build as a residence for future Kings.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The Wat Phra Kaew or “Temple of the Emerald Buddha” on the grounds of the Grand Palace is one of Thailand’s most sacred places. The small Buddha image is believed to be more than 2000 years old and was created in India. Since then it was moved a number of times and in 1434 it was re-discovered in a temple in Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand.
Although people back then believed the Buddha to be made from emerald, it is actually made from green jade. With the changing of the seasons (summer, rainy season and cool season), the robes of the Emerald Buddha are changed by HM the King of Thailand.
The walls of the Hall are covered with mural paintings depicting a number of events in the Life of the Lord Buddha, including birth, death and Enlightenment.
The surrounding galleries
The Royal Monastery is surrounded by walls covered with beautiful and very detailed paintings of the Ramakien, the Thai version of the Indian epic Ramayana. Large parts of the Ramakien were written by King Rama I and King Rama II. Many of the paintings tell scenes about the battle between good and evil. They were first created when the Palace was built in the 18th century and since then restored several times.
Since this is a sacred place, please follow the dress code. This means no short pants, no shirts without sleeves, no bare feet. As in any temple in Thailand, please take off your shoes. Near the entrance of the Palace complex is a booth where proper clothes are provided if needed.
Although photo and video equipment is allowed in most of the Grand Palace, inside the Wat Phra Kaew temple they are not.
Grand Palace Bangkok brochure
On entering the Grand Palace you will receive a brochure with details about the complex including a map. However, the layout of the complex is such that the route through is pretty much fixed.
Address of the Grand Palace & how to get there
The address is: Thanon Na Phra Lan, Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok.
The easiest and most fun way to get there is by Chao Phraya express boat. You can get off at either Tha Tien pier on the Southern end of the Palace complex or at Tha Chang pier on the Northern end.
Get there by Chao Phraya Express river boat.
Opening hours are daily from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm. The Palace is very rarely closed, when it is used for official state functions.
Entrance fee is 500 Thai Baht per person.
If you show up in short pants or sleeveless shirts, clothing can be rented at the entrance at 200 Thai Baht per person.
Visit the Grand Palace
+ Emerald Buddha Temple