The most iconic attraction in Bangkok, without a doubt, is the magnificent, breathtaking Grand Palace. It is a must-visit attraction for every visitor to Bangkok. It was constructed in 1782 and served as the Thai King’s residence, the Royal court, and the administrative center of government for 150 years.
Today, the location is used to host royal events and welcome visiting diplomats, State visitors, and the King’s guests. Additionally, it served as the last resting place for kings and other prominent royals before they were cremated.
Even though it is primarily used ceremonially these days, it is still one of Bangkok’s top tourist attractions and a place where devoted Buddhists travel on pilgrimages.
Give yourself two to three hours to fully explore the site or an additional hour if you choose to go on a guided tour.
The history of Thailand Grand Palace
King Rama 1 wanted to build a palace that would evoke the grandeur of the past, particularly one associated with Ayutthaya, as well as to reestablish Thailand as a political power in the area—with himself at the rein.
This was after the Ayutthaya Kingdom (and the capital city of Ayutthaya) fell to Burmese forces in 1767 and the reunification under Taksin. The Chinese diaspora was relocated to a part of Bangkok where the monarch erected his new capital city, which is today home to the bustling Chinatown of Bangkok.
According to historical records, the area was picked as the location because it was undeveloped and because it was next to King Taksin’s predecessor’s Thonburi Palace on the east bank of the Chaophraya River. This was viewed as useful for a variety of reasons, including the availability of land and the river’s extra security, which required any invading forces to pass the Chaophraya before they could approach the palace.
The Royal Thai Navy is currently based on the grounds of Thonburi Palace, although it was formerly a relatively unassuming royal house, as seen by the old structures. This was partly because of the ongoing political unrest, which prevented King Taksin from dedicating his attention to building a luxurious home. When King Rama I came to power, he wanted his palace to resemble the previous Ayutthaya Grand Palace.
The construction and the architecture of The Grand Palace
On May 6, 1782, the Grand Palace’s construction started. Several of the original buildings King Rama I ordered are still standing, despite the fact that many of the complex’s modern buildings and structures were later constructed. For instance, the Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat, which the monarch used to greet guests from abroad and preside over significant occasions.
The layout of the palace complex, as well as the rest of Ratanakosin Island, is strikingly reminiscent of the palaces of Ayutthaya, the illustrious past capital of Siam that the Burmese attacked. The King’s direct involvement in government agencies, including the army, treasury, and civil administration, was housed in the Outer Court, which is close to the entrance. In one of the corners of this outer court stands the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The King’s home and the rooms used for performing state business were both located in the Central Court. You will be able to admire the fine workmanship on the exterior of these remarkable constructions even though only 2 of the throne halls are accessible to the public.
The King’s daughters and royal consorts lived in the Inner Court. The Inner Court resembled a miniature city with only girls and boys who had not reached puberty as residents. The inner court is still totally off-limits to the general public, even if there isn’t any monarchy living there right now.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha – Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram (Wat Phra Kaew)
The most significant Buddhist temple in Thailand is Wat Phra Kaew, AKA the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram. It houses Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the highly renowned Buddha image painstakingly carved from a single piece of jade, and is situated in the heart of Bangkok’s past, on the grounds of the Grand Palace.
The statue, which is shown in the meditation pose, is also known as Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn. The Lanna school of the north is expressed in its design. One of the biggest attractions for tourists visiting the Grand Palace continues to be the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The temple, which is one of Thailand’s most significant, is located inside the ordination hall.
Does the Grand Palace have a dress code?
The Grand Palace has a rather tight dress code that you must adhere to in order to get in. Shorts, miniskirts, tight pants, see-through apparel, sleeveless tops, sandals (apart from those with heel straps), hoodies, sweatpants, and pajamas are prohibited from wearing when visiting The Grand Palace. A security officer could be unwilling to let you in even if you are wearing a shawl to conceal your shoulders. Instead of being turned away at the Grand Palace’s gate, it is preferable to overdress and drink lots of water to prevent overheating.
What are the opening hours of The Grand Palace?
You can visit The Grand Palace every day from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.
What is the address for The Grand Palace?
Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.
How to get to The Grand Palace?
Taxis are the simplest means of transportation because every driver is familiar with the location of the Grand Palace. If a taxi insists on not using the meter, do not board it since they are required by law to do so. You can also take the BTS Sky train to station Saphan Taksin and take the Chao Phraya River Express rowboat to the Maharaj Pier. There’s a short walk from the main entrance to the palace.
Some tips for a better visit to The Grand Palace
Given how popular it is with visitors, The Grand Palace of Bangkok should be visited with some caution. Walk away if a stranger approaches you and offers to drive you around the neighborhood for a minimum total cost.
If someone offers to take you to another equally stunning temple despite this one insisting that the Grand Palace is closed, respectfully reject. There are many individuals prepared to take advantage of the tourists visiting The Grand Palace as it is always crowded and busy with visitors from all over the world.
Final words about The Grand Palace
The Thai kings had left the Grand Palace by the time of King Rama VI. The Grand Palace complex was able to be opened to the public as a result of this and the end of the absolute monarchy as it was no longer the seat of power.
The Grand Palace is now one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions. This is so that the complex as a whole may honor and preserve some of the most significant works of Thai art and architecture created since the 18th century. Visitors can get a glimpse of how members of the court lived and their sumptuous surroundings even though the Grand Palace does not represent the lived experience or material culture of commoners.