Results 11-20of 38 Reviews
February 25, 2005
It was gaudy and beautiful at the same time. I got some good photos, but the reality is that the place is swarming with tourists. It was worth seeing anyway. There is much to be learned about the Thai culture and history surrounding the palace if you are into that. The buildings are decadent and unlike anything I have ever seen here in the US. There is a beautiful, long mural that depicts ancient scenes that you definitely don’t want to miss. It is also the home of the Emerald Buddha. To be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with it, but it is a big deal in Thailand and on the list of national treasures that are worth the effort to go see.
From journal Thailand - November 2003
February 16, 2005
The tour guide walked us through the various palaces and temples and gave us a history of the area in very broken English. We were able to go to a few places in the complex that we might not have without a tour guide. The actual tour was relatively quick, but we were hot and jet-lagged, so it was just the right amount of time. Make sure to wear sandals; otherwise, you will have to go outside of the complex to rent the proper shoes.
However, before dropping us back at our hotel, they proceeded to take us shopping at various tourist shops, like a tailor shop, a jewelry shop, etc. The tours and the shops must have a partnership together to make extra money. We didn't buy anything, and the tour guide was getting a little irritated. When we signed up for the tour of the palace, we didn't know that these shops would also be on the agenda.
From journal Honeymoon in Thailand
by Asia Traveler
December 14, 2004
The Emerald Buddha was not as impressive as I expected, though. From all the descriptions, I thought that it would be bigger, and while I'm sure it's very special to those for whom it holds religious significance, it wasn't all that amazing to me.
One of the more amusing sights at the Grand Palace was the line of foreigners outside the door marked "free clothes." I guess many of the foreigners don't read the modest dress requirements for entrance to the Grand Palace before they get there.
From journal A week's getaway to Thailand
October 17, 2004
This is a vast site, and before entering, we marvelled at the colours and variety of the buildings as they were silhouetted against the clear blue Bangkok skies. This sense of wonderment did not leave us from the time we entered the site to the time we departed. At the entrance I stood awe inspired as I was confronted with a mass of gold leaf and immense statues brightly coloured and often grotesque in appearance. All visitors are dwarfed by the grandeur of individual buildings, and like a procession of ants, we all trail round the site, pausing to be amazed by the sight around the next corner.
Make sure that you walk through the cloisters and take time to admire some of the 150 murals that adorn their walls, and consider the story of the triumph of good over evil as told in their allegorical images. Walk around the model of Angkor Wat – it’s the only time you will tower over one of these buildings.
Of course, no visit to the Grand Palace is complete without a view of the Emerald Buddha. You must leave your shoes outside (this is the case when you enter any holy place) and there was a ceremony, which involved a flower and water, that you were encouraged to undertake before admission. Don’t be tempted to photograph this Buddha, as it is viewed to be offensive, but just enjoy the spectacle. This 26-inch jade Buddha, discovered in the early 1400s after lightening struck an ancient "stupa", sits above the ornate wooden throne in the Wat Phra Keo and is viewed as the principal Buddha image of Bangkok. You can actually feel the reverence that this building commands.
Outside of the inner palace, marvel at the Dusit Maha Prasat, one of the original Palace buildings, and its four-tier tiled roofs and magnificent seven-tiered golden spire. This area of the grounds has an amazing collection of ancient topiary, which would happily be portrayed in the surreal work of Dali.
The Grand Palace represents a range of structures and is a three-dimensional "textbook" of Thai decorative techniques, including mosaics of glass or porcelain, painted murals, richly carved and gilded roof supports, doors and windows adorned with mother-of-pearl inlay or gold and black lacquer work, multi-coloured tiled roofs, huge brightly decorated statues, bronze statues. All of this lovingly restored in 1982 for the Bangkok bicentennial celebrations.
It’s hard for me not to enthuse about this site, and I’m sure you will too!
From journal Bantering in Bangkok
August 31, 2004
The Grand Palace definitely shook my occidental prejudices; the dazzling colours and ornateness of the monuments reminded me of how wealthy and advanced Siam was.
From journal Bangkok - bizarre and beautiful
April 14, 2004
The entrance fee is $400 baht if I am not mistaken and extremely well worth it. The pagodas are detailed to perfection. On a sunny day, the gold leaf walls are very bright and shining. Quite magical. The whole place is very religious (Buddhism) and shorts/short skirts/bare legs are not recommended.
From journal Why Not Go to Thailand?
johannesburg, South Africa
August 11, 2003
We went in March, it was very busy and the weather was great. Outside the Grand Palace was a statue, which the guide told us has clothes on to represent the season change. They are changed by the king (if I remember correctly) and is a big celebration with gifts of statues and flowers presented, all of which we could see on tables outside. We were lucky to have gone when we did so we could see all this.
Although there were a lot of international tourists visiting the temples, It didn't feel too rushed or organised. We strolled around the grounds taking photos of the temples. I went inside one of them. From floor to ceilimg was marble and gold with paintings and jewelled statues. We had to take our shoes off at the entrance and creep along at the back of all the people on their knees praying.
It was cool to kneel on and the atmosphere was calming. We lay a flower by a statue as a mark of respect, and although I'm a Christian, I did this out of respect to the Thai people.
At night these buildings are so picture perfect. Many lights illuminate temples along the river, oranges, pinks and purples. I saw this when we went on a river cruise along the river Kwai, as recommended by a Thai girl working at our hotel. This was not aimed at tourists. *for more info see my entry 'River Cruise at night'.
From journal Bangkok Bliss...
Bayside, New York
January 12, 2003
Free tours are offered in the most popular languages, and we had a thirty-minute wait until ours was to start. As you make your way in, you will immediately see an altar with lots of incense burning and food offerings. There is a statue of a hermit behind which there is a golden throne with a spire in the shape of a crown. Inside the open-faced gallery is yet another ticket booth, and this is where you sign up for your free tour. As you wait, you will not be wanting of anything to do: both of us had a camera and wandered off in different directions.
I found some delightful potted lotus and water lilies and this is where I came nose to nose with some porcelain walls which are photographed here . You may wonder why, in the presence of such awe-inspiring monuments, I chose to photograph plants. Two excellent reasons: a) Chuck is a much better photographer than I am, and I fully trusted he would capture some of the essence of what was there, and b) I am a total maniac when it comes to flowers.
I did take a walk back to the rishi’s (forest-dwelling Brahmin hermit ascetic) area which is surrounded by the three buildings; these were built by the fourth King, Rama, as a dedication to the first three, along with events esoteric to their reigns. Many people were in this "corridor," either waiting for a tour to happen, or taking pictures of the Upper Terrace. I ventured back into one of the galleries, and later learned from our guide that the scenes which are painted on the walls are a depiction of the Ramakien, which is a tale of the triumph of good over evil. Since these were painted during the reign of the first King Rama, they’ve had to be restored several times. Nevertheless, they are incredibly beautiful, and give the spectator a sense of movement, as the then King wages wars against Thostsakan to rescue his wife, Sita (pronounced Shita).
From journal Thailand Ties - Part II
The Chedi served as a shrine of sacred Buddha relics. It is not an original, as I had thought, but a copy of another stupa that can be found at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, in Thailand’s old capital of Ayutthaya. It was built on the order of King Rama IV in the mid 1800s and has a hollow interior where the relics are stored. When we were being briefed about it, there was a rope sealing-off access to the stairs. The Phra Si Rattana Chedi is said to contain a piece of the Buddha's breastbone.
Our guide informed us that the building originally had a glass exterior that the next king had completely covered with gold tiles imported from Italy. The Chedi is visible from several vantage points in Bangkok.
We then moved on to admire the sandstone replica of Angkor Wat that was apparently built here as a reminder that Cambodia was once part of Thai sovereignty. King Rama IV ordered it to be built as well.
The next thing to visit and learn about was the Mondop, which we were only allowed to see from the exterior (as with most of the buildings here). What is a mondop? In this assemblage of buildings, it is the Royal Library, where the sacred scriptures of Buddha are inscribed on palm leaves (Tripitaka) and stored in a cabinet adorned with mother of pearl.
We had great fun around the Royal Pantheon which houses statues of deceased kings of the Chakri Dynasty. Demons and monkeys seem to support the base of the stupa, making it a popular photograph point for most visitors, who like to be seen mimicking the poses of the demons. This structure is also known as the Prasart Phra Debidorn. Other mythological figures can be found nearby such as the kinari and kinara, the male and female counterparts of a half-human, half-bird creature; both are believed to be celestial beings that spread goodness in the world through music and are beloved symbols in both Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand.
We were left some free time to take photos of the Upper Terrace and dance with the demons.
January 11, 2003
I don't know how to write one journal on the Grand Palace. The enormity and majesty of the place defies all reason. So, I broke it up in sections of interest so as to avoid my own confusion. The places that I highlight may not necessarily be the most important, but from a personal standpoint, I found them outstanding either from an aesthetic or historical angle. The most celebrated and religiously meaningful of the structures was that which housed the Emerald Buddha , and the events which led to its final destination were fascinating. There are a couple of other segregated areas I’ll take you to, such as the Upper Terrace , the area immediately visible from the entrance to the Grand Palace, as well as the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall which is a magnificent example of a blend of western and eastern architectures.
Let’s take a walk over to the Wiharn Yod which is at ground level; it is important to note that the wiharn is the focal point of any temple complex, and is almost always larger than all the other structures which surround it. It is the repository of Buddhist learning, where one can find depictions of the Buddha’s life and teachings on the walls. Its primary function is to enshrine Buddhist images. As such, the Wiharn must be splendidly decorated so as to emphasize its importance in the complex.
This particular Wiharn was covered in porcelain tiles which were made into flowers from Chinese dishes--these were broken during transport. It’s most appreciated with photos (next to being there, of course) and I have tried to to convey the beauty of the dishes by selecting the best four out of quite a collection. The work is infinitely intricate, and great care must have been taken to cover every part with porcelain.
Typical of such a building is its roof and eaves which remind me of majestic birds in flight. The roof is multi-tiered with projecting eaves to facilitate drainage; the tiles on the roof are perfectly aligned and glint in the sunshine. Unlike other Wiharns in Thailand, this building does not hold any convocations or ceremonies. On either side of the steps leading to the structure stand a pair of birds with garuda heads; the garuda is a mythical bird which appears mostly in Hindu and Tibetan texts, but has religious implications in Buddhism. It is also the symbol of Indonesia’s international airline.