Location: Na Phra Lan Road, Maharaj Pier | next to Wat Phra Kaew Temple Complex, Bangkok, Thailand
Reason to visit: The best, largest, most historical palace in Thailand
Our ratings: ★★★★★
Entrance fee: 500 baht
Opening Hours: 08:30 - 16:30 (Tickets sold from 08:30 – 15:30, Wat Phra Kaeo entrance fee is included)
The Grand Palace (Thai: พระบรมมหาราชวัง, RTGS: Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang) are a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. The Grand Palace is the largest, the most ethnic, and the most perfectly well-preserved palace in Thailand. The Grand Palace remained the Royal Family's official residence from 1782 to 1946. Rama I to Rama VIII all lived in the Grand Palace. After Rama VIII was stabbed in the palace in 1946, the king, the Royal Family and the government were no longer permanently settled at the palace, and had moved to other residences. The Grand Palace was open to the public and has become a famous tourist destination in Thailand ever since. Today the Grand Palace is still a centre of ceremony and of the monarchy, and serves as a museum and tourist attraction as well. Even though only certain areas of the main palace are fully open to tourists, tons of tourists come here to appreciate its considerable historical significance and witness the magnificent royalty and beauty.
History of the Grand Palace
The construction of the Grand Palace began in 1782 when King Rama I was in power. The palace was not complete until the late 1800s. At the same time, King Rama I was also intent on building a capital city for his new Chakri Dynasty. He moved the seat of power from the city of Thonburi, on the west side of the Chao Phraya River, to the east side at Bangkok. In another word, Bangkok has become the capital city of Thailand since 1782.
The Grand Palace is the largest, the most ethnic, and the most perfectly well-preserved palace in Thailand. The Grand Palace remained the Royal Family's official residence from 1782 to 1946. Rama I to Rama VIII all lived in the Grand Palace. After Rama VIII was stabbed in the palace in 1946, the king, the Royal Family and the government were no longer permanently settled at the palace, and had moved to other residences. The Grand Palace was open to the public and has become a famous tourist destination in Thailand ever since.
Over the past 200 years, different leaders have continued to build upon the magnificent palace until it finally looks how it does today. Nowadays the Grand Palace is still a centre of ceremony and of the monarchy, and serves as a museum and tourist attraction as well.
The Grand Palace houses the essence of Thai architecture, painting, sculpture, and decoration. There are four magnificent buildings in the Grand Palace which are Hakri Maha Prasad, Dusit Maha Prasad, Amarin Winitchai Hall, and Wat Phra Kaeo.
Hakri Maha Prasad
Walk into the courtyard of the Grand Palace, the first thing to see is the vast grassland and the old trees with different postures. There are some lindens and other tropical trees around the lawn. The pagoda-style spires of the Grand Palace are straight into the sky, and the fish-scale glass tiles are brilliant under the sun. Step into the second door, the magnificent three-story building exhibition is right in front of you, this is the largest main hall in the Grand Palace. It is called Hakri Maha Prasad and it was built in 1876 by King Rama V.
Hakri Maha Prasad has the meaning of Emperor and is also the official name of the Rama Dynasty. The characteristic of Hakri Maha Prasad is that its basic structure belongs to the British Victorian architectural art, while the top of the three square spires is a Thai-style roof. What a perfect combination of the west and the east!
Dusit Maha Prasad
The west of Hakri Maha Prasad is Dusit Maha Prasad. This is the first imperial palace built in the Grand Palace and is a traditional Thai building. In Dusit Maha Prasad, there are royal seats and royal beds made by Rama I, which are listed as the first-class works of art in the Rama Dynasty. Dusit Maha Prasad is mainly used as a place for royals’ funeral such as the King, Queen, the Queen Mother, and so on.
Amarin Winitchai Hall
The east of Hakri Maha Prasad is Amarin Winitchai Hall which is one of the earliest buildings of the Grand Palace. It was built in the First Emperor (1875) and was used by the King to listen to politics. Amarin Winitchai Hall is visually more attractive than Hakri Maha Prasad and Dusit Maha Prasad.
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
Located at the northeast corner of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew is the most famous Buddhist temple and one of three national treasures in Thailand. Built in 1782, Wat Phra Kaew is about 1/4 of the Grand Palace. The Thai royal family worships the Emerald Buddha statues and holds religious ceremonies in this sacred place. The entire Wat Phra Kaew is magnificent, there are many mysterious stories about the origin of the Emerald Buddha image. In addition, Wat Phra Kaew embodies the characteristics of ancient Thai architecture and art and is known as the artistic treasure of Thai Buddhist architecture, sculpture and painting.
Dress Code: Prohibited items of clothing include shorts, mini-skirts, tight-fitting trousers, any see-through items of clothing, sleeveless tops, sandals (excluding those with heel straps), sweatshirts, sweatpants, and pajamas. Dress conservatively is all you need.
Although there is no photo prohibition in the temple, it is recommended not to take pictures due to the respect for the Buddha statue.
Take off shoes when entering the temple.
Ladies are not allowed to touch monks. It is a severe taboo!
After entering the temple, don't shout loudly.
No intimate behaviors allowed in the temple.
How to Get to the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace and Wat Pra Kaew are in the Banglamphu area of Bangkok - the 'Old City'.
You can take a taxi or Tuk Tuk.
Also, the following buses will get you there:
Bus Number: 1, 35, 44, 47, 123, 201
Air-conditioned Bus Number: 2, 3, 7, 8, 12, 25, 39, 44, 82
To find out more, please visit our Bangkok section.