Just North West of Bangkok, in Nakhon Pathom province lies Sanam Chandra Palace. The name of the Palace was probably derived from a natural pool called “Sa Nam Chand” close by. Most of the buildings are constructed in European style, in fact the Chaleemongkolasana Residence of King Rama VI looks more like a French or English castle than a Thai Palace.
The Palace was built early 20th century by then Crown Prince Vajiravudh, who in 1910 became King Rama VI. The Crown Prince, who was in Nakhon Pathom province to pay homage to the Phra Pathom Chedi, decided to build the Palace as a Royal retreat where he could stay during his visits to the Chedi. The Palace complex was also built to serve as a base for the “Wild Tiger Corps”, a military unit serving the King.
The Palace is set in a large very well kept park like area, and is very suitable for some relaxation under the shady trees. There are five buildings on the grounds, namely the Chaleemongkolasana Residence, the Bhimarn Prathom Residence, the Samakkeemukamartaya Hall, the Mareerajaratabulung Residence and the Thub Kwan Residence. All these buildings are open to the public. There is also a shrine to the Hindu God Ganesha, the God portrayed with the head of an elephant and a statue of Yalae, King Rama VI’s favorite dog, that was accidentally shot to death.
The central building of Sanam Chandra Palace is the Chaleemongkolasana Residence. This is a building you would expect to find in France or England rather than Thailand. The yellow painted castle-like structure was built in French Renaissance architectural style, while the footbridge that connects it to Mareerajaratabulung Residence looks like English half timbering style. Construction of the Palace was completed early 20th century.
The Palace has two floors, the upper one contains the private living quarters of King Rama VI, such as a bedroom, a bathroom and a study chamber. King Rama VI used to stay here to attend practices of the para military group the “Wild Tiger Corps”.
Bhimarn Prathom Residence
The Bhimarn Prathom Residence was the first structure to be built in Sanam Chandra Palace. It was built in European design style, but with some Thai design elements like traditional Thai carvings.
The building contains a Prayer room with a beautiful mural and a Buddha image and King Vajiravudh’s private living quarters including a bedroom, a bathroom, a dining room, a meeting room and a study chamber. There are also an audience hall and a reception hall.
The Samakkeemukamartaya Hall is a large one story Throne Hall. This building is built in traditional Thai architectural style and is very recognizable as classic Thai. Because of its size, the building served several purposes, including a meeting room for the military unit the “Wild Tiger Corps” and a banquet hall. Also performances of classical Thai dance called “khon”, often telling stories of the Ramakien (the Thai version of the Indian epic Ramayana) were held here.
The Mareerajaratabulung Residence was built by King Rama VI in 1916. The two story golden teak wood structure built in European neo classical style is connected to Chaleemongkolasana Residence by a covered footbridge across the moat.
Thub Kwan Residence
The Thub Kwan Residence comprises of a number of traditional Thai wooden houses. The houses were used for different purposes, some as bedrooms, one was a reception hall, another one was used as a kitchen, others were used as servants rooms or for storage. The houses were built from golden teak wood using the timber joint-and-notch method, which means no nails were used.
How to get to Sanam Chandra Palace
The Palace grounds are located off Najuan Road in Nakhon Pathom, some 60 kilometers from Bangkok. A trip here could ideally be combined with a visit to the Phra Pathom Chedi, the tallest stupa in the world, which is about one kilometer from the Palace.
Opening hours & admission
Opening hours are 9 am until 4 pm daily, except on Mondays. Admission fee is 50 Baht per person. Best day to visit would be a weekday, since weekends can get busy with Thai visitors. Every year around March or April, Sanam Chandra Palace hosts an orchid show, on which occasion it can get pretty crowded.