Probably the most celebrated landmark of Thailand, the Grand Palace in Bangkok is a site that every visitor must see at least once in their lifetime. The construction of the Grand Palace began in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, the founder of Chakri Dynasty, as a royal residence, and it has been the utmost architectural symbol of Thailand ever since. The Grand Palace served as a major royal residence until 1925 and it is now used for ceremonial purposes only.
The Grand Palace is divided into three main zones: The Outer Court, home to royal offices, public buildings, and the Temple of Emerald Buddha; the Middle Court, which contains the most important residential and state buildings; and the Inner Court, exclusively reserved for the king, and his queen and consorts. The major attraction of the Outer Court is the Temple of Emerald Buddha, the residence of Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist sculpture: Phra Kaeo Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), which was carved from flawless green jade. It is majestically situated amid gold-gilded sculptures and ornaments, against the backdrop of exquisite mural paintings on the walls of the main ordination hall.
Situated at the center of the Middle Court is Chakri Mahaprasat Throne Hall, which was ordered by King Rama V as his personal residence. It also served as a major throne hall. Construction began in 1876 and the hall was completed in 1882, revealing an outstanding architectural style, combining European structure and traditional Thai roof tiles and spires. The interior offers sophisticated decorations inspired by the European renaissance era, adorned with royal portraits of the Chakri Dynasty monarchs. The building now only hosts state functions and royal ceremonies.
At the far right of the Middle Court is Borom Phiman Mansion, which was also constructed during the reign of King Rama V in neo-renaissance style as the residence of the crown prince. This most modern example of architecture within the Grand Palace compound later became the occasional residence of three succeeding kings. The mansion is not open to the public and currently serves as the official accommodations for visiting heads of state. Borom Phiman Mansion is part of the Sivalai Garden complex, where the office of the Royal Household Bureau is located. The garden was a recreation area for the royal women and children, and it is now used for exclusive receptions.
Between Sivalai Garden and Chakri Mahaprasat Throne Hall, Maha Monthien Prasat complex is home to the Audience Hall of Amarin Winitchai where royal ceremonies usually take place. On the far left is Dusit Mahaprasat Thone Hall, which is an ideal archetype of traditional Thai architecture.
Getting there: One of the easiest, and most pleasurable, ways is taking the BTS skytrain to Saphan Taksin station, located atop Sathorn “Central” Pier. From there, take a Chao Phraya River Express boat to Chang Pier, and then it’s a short walk to the Grand Palace’s main entrance.
Opening hours: Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., except during special royal ceremonies Entrance fee: 500 Baht, inclusive of access to Wat Phra Kaeo, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion, and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, which are located within the Grand Palace compound; and to Vimanmek Mansion Museum on Ratchawithi Road. A personal audio guide in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese or Mandarin can be rented for an additional 100 Baht.
Dress code: Visitors are required to dress appropriately. The following items of clothing are strictly prohibited as outer garments for both ladies and gentlemen:
1. Shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, tight fitting trousers, and tights
2. See-through shirts and blouses, as well as culottes or quarter length trousers
3. Sleeveless shirts or vests
4. Sandals (without ankle or heel straps)
5. Rolled-up-sleeved shirts
6. Sweatshirts and sweatpants, wind-cheaters, pajamas, and fisherman trousers
Contact: 0 2623 5500 ext.3100, 0 2224 3273