Seeing the top visited attraction in Bangkok, the exquisite Grand Palace, is a must for everyone. Yes it’s expensive (in Thai standards), yes it’s crowded, but you’ve never seen anything like its grandeur.
The complex was home to Thai kings for over 150 years, the royal court, government, and the mint. It is still used to host dignitaries today. It is the most sacred place in the entire nation, most notably housing Wat Phra Kaew with its emerald Buddha. So how best to see it?
*Entrance fee is 500 baht, cash
*Opening hours 8:30-3:30
*Dress code enforced, cover legs and shoulders
Visiting as early as possible is advised. I wish I took my own advice. This was the first item on my itinerary, but my jetlagged body wouldn’t get out of bed until 10AM – even then the crowds were stifling.
Just a note of common sense – be extremely cautious of your personal belongings in crowded areas. The palace is not one building, but what feels like a whole extravagant city within walls.
Building began in 1782 and as the years went on, more development occurred by successive kings, which explains the multitude of different styles.
Everything is so close together it is difficult to get a picture of an entire structure – focus on the dazzling detail, get low, and shoot upward. It can be quite confusing to walk around and there is no informational signage. You essential follow the herded path and simple oogle at the architecture.
If you would like any historical context, you should hire a guide.
Once again, would love to have followed my own advice. However, the spectacular buildings are so ornate – you can be completely satisfied just enjoying them at face value.
Gold, mosaics, shells, figurines, colored mirrors, over sensory alert, in the best way possible.
The most crowded area of all is Wat Phra Kaew, inside it a small Buddha that is not in fact made of emerald, but jade. The famous icon is from the 14th century and wears a different robe each season, changed by the king himself. This room was so packed I couldn’t even bare to make it all the way up to the Buddha. To enter the temple you must take your shoes off, so wear a pair that is easy to slip on and off. Throughout the there are museums housing literature and weaponry. There are murals that line the walls depicting the life of Buddha. You could spend hours here scrutinizing every detail – be sure to bring water, a hat, and sunscreen, as you should everywhere in Thailand. Be aware! One major scam is tuk tuk drivers tricking tourists into believing the Grand Palace is closed – it isn’t. Go, enjoy the palace, remember these tips and you will never forget your experience.