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It's pretty hard to take good pictures like this of the Grand Palace. Kudos to Nicolas. Try yourself!  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.de/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Thailand > Bangkok > Sights & Attractions

Grand Palace

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Bangkok's most popular tourist attraction, the Grand Palace (พระบรมมหาราชวัง) is the former residence of the King and is built adjacent to, and more or less integrated with Wat Phra Kaew (also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha). The palace was originally built together with the establishment of Bangkok by King Rama I and has been expanded ever since. It covers a wide range of architectural styles, ranging from the pure Ayutthayan style of the temples to a blend of Thai and Western styles for later structures. While the King no longer lives here, a large part of the complex is used for royal residences and ceremonies and is off-limits to tourists.

Combined entry is a steep 400 baht, plus an optional 200 baht for a two-hour audio guide; Thais get in for free. Your ticket includes entry into the Dusit Palace in Dusit (valid for seven days). The Grand Palace is open every day from 08:30 to 16:30, with the last tickets sold at 15:30; it cannot be said enough, do not believe any scammers who attempt to convince you otherwise. It is best to attend the Grand Palace during weekdays, as some throne halls are closed in the weekends for ceremonial purposes. Be aware that a strict dress code applies for visitors to the palace. Ladies must cover their upper arms and legs down to the thigh, while men must wear long trousers and at least a t-shirt. Ladies can borrow sarongs at the entrance for free, but must leave a 200 baht deposit. On some holidays the dressing room may be closed, in which case you can rent clothes across the street for a fee. Thais seem to follow even tighter dressing regulations, such as wearing black during royal funeral ceremonies, but they understand it when foreigners do not follow those.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.de/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

It can get very crowded (and hot) once the tour buses start to roll in, so getting an early start might be a good idea! There are free English tours four times a day, just look for the sign after you pass the ticket gate. The palace grounds can easily be explored on your own though. Visitors are corralled along a set route. First you'll walk through Wat Phra Kaew with the palace buildings coming right after.

Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) is Thailands most sacred Buddhist temple. It is located in the northeastern corner of the Royal Palace.

Leaving Wat Phra Kaew, on the right you'll see a Chinese gate that is adorned with beautiful small porcelain pieces. Move on and you'll be guided past the beautiful palace buildings. The first you'll see is the Phra Maha Montien(พระมหามณเฑียร) complex and its accompanying buildings. This has been the residence of Siam's kings before King Rama V decided to move to the Chitralada Palace in Dusit. The Amarin Winichai Hall (พระที่นั่งอมรินทรวินิจฉัย), the building's main audience hall, can be accessed by visitors on weekdays. It was used as an audience hall welcoming foreign guests. Inside is the boat-shaped Busabok, an open sided throne topped with a spired roof. Currently it is often used for ceremonies, such as the King's annual birthday speech.

Next up is the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall (พระที่นั่งจักรีมหาปราสาท), a building constructed in the reign of King Rama V in 1876. It was used for receiving royal guests who were monarchs or heads of state. It is built in a distinctively European neo-classical style, but with a Thai roof somewhat incongruously plopped on top. This remarkable design is the result of a dispute between King Rama V and other members of the royal family. King Rama V wanted to give the building an entirely European look, while the other members wanted the building to have distinctively Siamese spires. While unusual, it is still one of the most distinctive and memorable palace buildings in the complex. It was formerly used as the elephant stables; the bronze elephants are supposed to be a reminder of that. The ashes of the kings of the Chakri dynasty are housed inside. At weekdays you can enter the building for theweapons museum. At noon, in front of the building is where the changing the guard ceremony ends. The guards don't mind when you take pictures with them, just don't take it too far and stay respectful. They will not move no matter what happens.

Bangkok's Royal Palace  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.de/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

The final large structure is the Dusit Maha Prasat Hall (พระที่นั่งดุสิตมหาปราสาท). It is a typical Thai building constructed by King Rama I in 1790. Formerly named the Inthraphisek Maha Prasat Hall, this is the first throne hall that has been constructed within the Grand Palace. When a king, queen or other important member of the royal family dies, this palace is used for the lying-in-state; the body is kept here while waiting for an auspicious date for cremation. The inside is only opened on weekdays. It houses the Phra Ratcha Banlang Pradap Muk, a wooden throne beautifully decorated with mother-of-pearl inlaid work. The beautiful Aphorn Phimok Prasat Pavilion (พระที่นั่งอาภรณ์ภิโมกข์ปราสาท) next to the building served as the King's mounting platform and as a changing room for royal processions.

Next to the hall is a small restaurant where you can fresh up with a drink or have something to eat. If you're not thirsty or hungry, continue your way to the Wat Phra Kaew Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์วัดพระศรีรัตนศาสดาราม). Yes, we haven't had enough of Wat Phra Kaew just yet! This museum was designed in the reign of King Rama V as the Royal Mint. Now it shows a treasure of artifacts that were rescued from the restoration of the Grand Palace in the 1980s. On the ground floor you can find the bones of the white elephants of former Kings. More artifacts can be found upstairs, the most interesting being the original costumes of the Emerald Buddha. Also upstairs are the two scale models of the complex. The first one shows the Grand Palace as initially built, while the other shows its current design.

After leaving the palace buildings, when the compound's entry gate is in sight, turn right, double back past the ticket counters and pay a visit to the Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Thai Coins (☎ +66 2 225-0968). Entry is free with your ticket. Not only is it air-conditioned, but it houses an impressive array of gold jewellery, weaponry and coins, and gives some insight into the evolution of the dynasty and its elaborate royal ceremonies. A highlight are the seasonal "clothes" of the Emerald Buddha, ranging from a warm winter wrap to a minimalistic ensemble for summer.

Type: Monument/Building
Location: Rattanakosin, Bangkok, Thailand

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