A great way to get an idea of how the Thai Royals lived is to visit the Vimanmek Palace in Dusit district in Bangkok.
The Palace was constructed in its current location in the year 1900 by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). Originally, the Palace was constructed as a Summer Palace on the island of Koh Sichang in the Gulf of Thailand in Chonburi Province, where King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn used to come to enjoy a holiday. In 1900, the Palace was dismantled and rebuilt as Vimanmek Mansion in its current location in Dusit district in Bangkok.
The Palace, which is also known as Vimanmek Mansion, is the largest golden teak wood building in the world and was built without using a single nail. Vimanmek Palace was built in European style using Thai construction methods.
King Chulalongkorn used the Palace as his personal living quarters until 1906. After this, the Mansion was not used, until Queen Indharasaksaji lived here for a number of years. Since then, the Royal Family has not lived at the Mansion at it was used for storage by the Bureau of the Royal Household. In 1982, on the initiative of Queen Sirikit the Mansion was restored to its old glory.
Personal living quarters of King Rama V
Vimanmek Palace was turned into a museum commemorating King Chulalongkorn the Great. A large number of rooms are open to the public, including the personal living quarters of King Rama V like a bedroom, bathroom, living room and study chamber.
All rooms were brought back into the state of around a century ago, when the King lived in the Mansion. The atmosphere of the Thai Royal past can easily be felt here. There are many more wonderfully decorated rooms to be viewed, like the Royal banquet room, the Chinese room, a Throne room and a room with the Kings piano.
Personal items of the Royal Family like the Kings writing desk, bookcases, Chinese porcelain from the Ming Dynasty, European glassware, crystal wine glasses, silver and gold ware, ivory boxes, jewelry, paintings and many photographs are on display in the rooms. King Chulalongkorn was the first Thai King to travel to Europe including Italy, from where he brought back a number of porcelain items.
Besides the Mansion, there are more than 20 buildings that were in use as residences for the Queen and the other members of the Royal Family, that have been restored to its original state and have now been turned into museums. Two buildings have been turned into a Royal Photography Museum where photos of the current King Bhumibol Adulyadej are on display. Among them are photographs of the King, the Queen, the Crown Prince and the Princesses.
The Royal Elephant Museum consists of two buildings formerly used as stables for the Royal elephants, and now contains articles, photos and other items relating to the elephants of the Royals.
The Palace complex is set in a very well maintained large area, with ponds and shady areas. Facilities as restaurants, bathrooms and souvenir shops are present. A great place to gain insight into Thai history and culture.
How to get to Vimanmek Palace
Vimanmek Mansion is located off Ratchawithi Road. There is no BTS Skytrain or MRT Subway station nearby, so your best option would be to use a metered taxi. You can also take a river express boat and stop at Thewet pier. Take a tuk tuk or taxi from there.
Opening hours & admission
Vimanmek Palace is open to the public daily from 9:30 am until 4:30 pm, the ticket offices closes at 3:30 pm. Since this is a Royal Palace, proper clothing is required meaning no short pants, sleeveless shirts or uncovered shoulders. Sarong like clothing is available at the entrance for a small fee, which will be refunded when leaving the building.
Admission fee is 100 Baht per person. An entrance ticket from the Grand Palace allows free entry to Vimanmek Mansion for 7 days. It is not allowed to carry personal belongings like bags, phones and cameras into the Palace. At the entrance you will be asked to store everything in a locker you can rent for a 20 Baht fee. Taking photographs inside the Palace is not allowed, outside it is. Guided tours are provided in English language, before entering the Mansion you will be asked to join a group tour, wandering around alone in the Mansion is not allowed.
Visit Vimanmek Mansion
+ Dusit Palace
+ Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall