For all it’s sins, Bangkok has one major tourist attraction that surely everybody tries to visit during their time in the city: The Grand Palace. Whilst anything in Thailand is going to be littered with touts and potential scams, once inside the Palace buildings it is nice to relax and walk around enjoying the architecture and perhaps even learn a bit about the history of the place. It is unquestionably the city’s most famous landmark, and was once the home of the Thai King for over 150 years. Admission to the Grand Palace and its associated buildings costs between 400-500Baht per person (this includes access to the famous Emerald Buddha).
Inside the Grand Palace are a series of impressive buildings, including Wat Phra Kaew (otherwise known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha). This emerald Buddha is very small in size, yet hugely revered, and is, as the centrepiece of Wat Phra Kaew, actually regarded as the most important Buddhist site in Thailand.
The Grand Palace compounds are laid out similar to the palaces of ancient Ayutthaya, the former capital of Siam which was raided by the Burmese. The Outer Court, near the entrance, used to house government departments in which the King was directly involved, such as civil administration, the army and the treasury. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is located here. The Central Court is where the residence of the King were located. Only two of the throne halls are open to the public, but I marvelled at the exquisite detail on the facades of these impressive structures, as you can see in some of my photos below. The Inner Court is where the King’s royal consorts lived, and even though no royalty currently reside in the inner court, it is still completely closed off to the public, which is a shame, I feel, as when wandering around the Grand Palace you want to explore more and more.
Although 3 or 4 times more expensive than virtually any other temple in Bangkok, I feel it is really worth the admission. I spent maybe 3-4 hours here, and there were still nooks and crannies I did not get to see. As expected, it was very busy, and VERY VERY hot (not much shade here), so make sure you top up on the sun cream before you arrive! The Grand Palace is open from 08.30 in the morning to around 15.30 in the afternoon. My advice would be to arrive as early as possible to avoid the worst of Bangkok’s unbearable daytime heat and humidity.
For additional reading, and to gauge further opinion, I have picked these three blogs to get you started:
Have you been to the Grand Palace? What did you think of it? Tell me in the comments below!