The Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by garymarsh6 on October 2, 2009

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok.

The easiest way of getting to the Palace is by using one of the frequent river boats or river taxis along the Chao Phraya River rather than using a taxi or a Tuk Tuk. (Motor cycle taxi rickshaw). Bangkok is notorious for its traffic congestion and the pollution from the traffic fumes is abominable.
The palace is a massive complex surrounded by a very large wall enclosing approximately 218,400 square meters of palace buildings and temples. The largest temple in the palace complex is called Prasat Phra Debidorn which is adorned with thousands of glittering and shimmering tiles and pieces of glass and gold leaf. In front of the temple is the golden Phra Sri Ratana Chedi which is one of the most famous sights of Bangkok and can be seen for miles around. This area is on a raised terrace and there is also a miniature model of Angkor Wat here too.
Within the complex one of the temples Wat Phra Kaew, houses the Jade Buddha which is the most significant and revered Buddha in Thailand. It is tiny in comparison to other Buddha’s and is said to have been carved out of a single piece of Jade originally from India but has travelled to many places after being pillaged by invaders including Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and finally back to Thailand. It is only 45cm in height and is adorned with golden cloths which the King Changes three times a year in a special ceremony.
The King and other members of Thai royal family no longer live in the palace but do visit for religious and state ceremonies from time to time. State events and receptions do take place within certain buildings but these are usually off bounds to the public. The present King Bhumibol (Rama IX) lives in Chitralada Palace which is near by. The King is revered in Thailand, the people love and worship him and it is a criminal offence to insult the King in any way or form. I believe a Swiss tourist was jailed a few years ago for insulting the King. There are pictures of him all over Thailand.
Phra Maha Monthian is a small complex of three buildings including Paisal Taksin Hall where the coronation ceremony takes place and another building to the side where the newly crowned monarch must sleep for his first night as King. There are various reception buildings dotted around the complex smaller temples housing the cremated remains of past royalty and statues of Naga’s(Snakes) mythical giants and smaller posing dancers all covered with gold leaf.
To do a visit to the palace any justice you should aim for about two to three hours to tour the complex as there are many statues and temples and courtyards to explore. There is always some restoration work going on at some place within the grounds. It is a very colourful and ornate place and there is a lot of ground to cover. Make sure you have drinking water with you as the humidity and heat in Bangkok can be terrible and it is very oppressive. A sun hat and sun block would be essential too.
Outside the palace there are hoards of touts trying to get you to go to other temples or Palaces telling you that the Palace is closed because it’s the Kings Birthday or that of the Queen, the Kings sister, one of the princess’s or Prince’s birthday and there are services going on and you can not enter till later in the afternoon. Even official tourist guides will tell you the same. What they actually do is take you in a tuk tuk to Jewellery shops where you will be ripped off unmercilessly. Never trust anyone around this site and just tell them no thanks and they will eventually leave you alone.

Visitors should be respectful and wear trousers and the shoulders should be covered and should you not adhere to the dress code then clothing can be hired at the entrance gates. Expect to do a lot of walking and make sure you have plenty of room on your camera chip.

Admission is 300 Bhats ( Approximately £5)
Opening times 08:30 to 16:30

Grand Palace
Na Phra Lan Road Ko Rattanakosin District
Bangkok, Thailand, 10500
+66 (2) 694 1222

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