Historically significant, architecturally beautiful and spiritually important, The Grand Palace Bangkok is the most magnificent building depicting the glorious Thai architecture. Due to the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese in 1767, the capital was moved to Bangkok and King Rama I built this royal residence and administration center. The Thai Royal family no longer lives here but many buildings in the palace are used for royal ceremonies.
Unlike our expectation, the Grand Palace wasn’t just one building. There are numerous monuments inside and the entire area of the Palace amounts to more than 200,000 square meters, making it the most impressive attraction in Thailand.
The Buddha image in the chapel of Phra Gandharat is believed to have magical powers for invoking rain and is worshiped for agriculture.
You will be amazed by the craftsmanship, the intricate designs of the buildings, flashing gold anywhere and everywhere.
After the death of King Bhumibol, access to The Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok was restricted. But it is now open for tourists. Dressed in black, thousands (including tourists), drop by every day to pay respect to the Royal Urn.
While the tourists are not expected to wear black, out of respect to the Thais it is advisable to wear somber colors.
The Demon Guardians, six pairs of them stand at the gate of the monuments. Most of them face the chapel of the Emerald Buddha, guarding against all evil spirits.
The Belfry tower is decorated with porcelain mosaics and is used now only on few occasions as when the supreme patriarch is nominated.
Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Part of the Grand Palace holds the holiest Buddhist temple in Thailand, Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Buddha image is carved from a single block of jade and is adorned with pure gold clothing. spectacular. No visitors are actually allowed to touch or get close to the Emerald Buddha. Photography is not allowed inside this temple.
However tempting it may seem, do not click photographs here. We had seen the security officers bashing a man for doing the same. And yes, they are strict and even after the lady had pleaded to the officer, he wasn’t ready to pardon the man.
There is a small place where Thais can pray, and a small area for others to pay their respect.
Precious and sacred like no other, the temple is embellished with elaborate carvings, paintings, and pagodas throughout, and is aesthetically pleasing. You’ll have to spend an entire day exploring if you wish to capture every detail that was put into the making of this historic temple.
How to get to Grand Palace, Bangkok:
If you are staying along the riverside, you can take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to walk through the riverside market to the Grand Palace. If you are staying in the Sukhumvit region, ask your hotel desk to book a taxi for you. That way, you’ll be able to get a much cheaper ride.
Grand Palace Timings and Ticket:
Entry to the Grand palace for non-Thais is 500 baht (yes, it is expensive!). It is open daily from 8.30am to 3.30pm. It is advised to reach the Palace as early as 8.15 so that you avoid a long queue. In minutes, you can see a sea of tourists inside the Grand Palace after 9 am which could spoil the experience.
What to wear to the Grand Palace:
No Tank tops or vest tops
No wide neck or crop tops
No midriff on show or backless clothing
No Strapless or short sleeves that show shoulders
No short pants, mini skirts or low waist pants or anything that show ankles
No flip flops: Do not wear expensive shoes as you will have to take your shoes off and leave them outside when you enter various buildings in the Grand Palace complex.
Your ideal outfit would be light cotton trousers, jumpsuits, long skirts or maxi dress. Keep a shawl or cardigan to cover your shoulders. Alarming? You should be because you’ll be sweating profusely and will get pretty heated up in the Bangkok temperature in and out of the Palace. There are few places with fans blowing in shaded areas, do make use of them.
Carry a water bottle always. Keep yourselves hydrated.
Audio guides are available at a cost of 200 Baht for 2 hours. Free brochures and a map of the layout are available from the ticket office.
Outside the Palace, there is a long array of eateries and honestly, here’s the best Thai food I’ve had in the whole of Thailand.
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