The Grand Palace in Bangkok is probably the most popular tourist landmark in the country. In fact, locals often claim that a Bangkok tour is not complete without a tour of the European-Thai-inspired architectural achievement that is the Grand Palace. It used to be the home of Thailand’s Kings, with the Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha as their private place of worship. It was constructed in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, and has served as the monarch’s residence and seat of the government for 150 years. Today, the Kings of Thailand no longer do live in the Palace, but it’s still the venue for most official celebrations, ceremonies, state banquets and other formal royal rituals including deaths, marriages and coronations.
For sure, it’s a great place to witness Thailand’s rich culture and glorious past. And except for the inner areas of the Palace, it is open to public, locals and tourists. Within the complex of the Palace are several attractions that the public are allowed to see. Following are some of the interesting objects and structures in the complex:
- Wat Phra Kaew. The Wat Phra Kaew is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Soon after the construction of the Palace’s wall, the King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke or King Rama I, ordered the erection of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The building stands at one corner of the complex just beside the Outer Court and enshrines the emerald Buddha. The Buddha was said to be made from one solid block of jade stone. The changing of its robes forms part of the spiritual rituals of Thailand and is carried out by the King of Thailand himself. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is not only spiritually moving but is also awe-inspiring in its greatness and intricacy.
- Grand Palace Hall (Chakri Maha Prasat). The hall of the Palace serves as reception for royal events particularly Thailand King’s coronations.
- Dusit Hall. The interiors of the Dusit Hall are said to have the finest architectural design of its kind. This is one of several interesting edifices you can see within the Palace’s complex.
- Amarinda Hall. The old throne of the monarch is on display for public viewing in this hall. In the old days, this hall was the residence of the King Rama I. Now, the hall is used for royal events and ceremonies only.
- The Museum. All information about the Palace, the restorations and maintenance of its condition, facts about several Buddha images and scale models of the Emerald Buddha as well as of the Palace itself can be found here. The descriptions are in Thai, but there are in-house guides that provide translation in English.
The Grand Palace is open from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm everyday. Tourists are expected to show their respect to the place by dressing appropriately. Within the complex premises, respectable clothes that cover the shoulder and legs adequately for women are required. Short pants are also not allowed for men, and open shoes for both are not permitted.