Author: Richard Barrow

Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

Temple of the Reclining buddha

One of Thailand ’s most famous landmarks, the Grand Palace is a must-see for every visitor. The dazzling array of its architectural and spiritual wonders will leave you amazed. Walk among mesmerizing statues that gaze at you the same way they did at kings centuries ago.

This huge compound was constructed to be a city within the city: situated on Rattanakosin Island, it occupies an area of about 1 square mile. Its foundations were laid down in 1782 by King Rama I, the first member of the Chakri dynasty. Later rulers added their own contributions to the complex, increasing its architectural diversity. One can identify several building styles besides the classic Thai style: European (Victorian) and Chinese elements are present in the later structures. The walls of the outer cloister are covered with murals that depict the entire Ramakien (Thai version of the Ramayana) in colorful art.

Temple of the Reclining buddha

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, known to Thai people as Wat Phra Kaew, is situated within the Grand Palace compound. It is in the outer section of the Royal Enclosure. It was built on the orders of King Rama I along with the main Grand Palace and Rattanakosin Island . Though it is called a temple, it has no resident monks. The main purpose of Wat Phra Kaew is to house the Emerald Buddha, the most revered symbol of Thai Buddhism. Its origin and sculptor are unknown; legends and myths surround the mysterious icon. It was originally discovered in Chiang Mai in 1464 under strange circumstances. It was taken into Laos , but Taksin the Great brought it back from Vientiane . Ever since, it has been a Thai national symbol, in addition to its religious relevance. The statue has three robes – one for each season. The robes are housed in the Royal Thai Decorations and Coin Pavilion of the Grand Palace . Changing the robes at the beginning of each season has been royal privilege in the past, as it is today.

Temple of the Reclining buddha

Phra Sri Ratana Chedi , a circular structure that enshrines a sacred Buddha relic, a piece of his chestbone.

Mondop : This structure stands behind Prasat Phra Thepidon, and was built in the reign of King Rama I. Inside is a cabinet beautifully decorated with mother-of-pearl, holding Buddhist scriptures.

Model of Angkor Wat : King Rama IV had this built by Phra Samphopphai when Cambodia was under Siamese control. The model was recreated in plaster at the behest of King Rama V to celebrate the first centenary of the Royal City .

Prasat Phra Thepidon : This four-square prang, originally called Puttaprang Prasat, was built in the reing of King Rama IV. Inside are statues of Kings Rama I – VIII, to which the public pays respect on Chakri Day (April 6) every year.

Phra Atsada Maha Chedi : this group of eight chedis stands in front of the temple. It was built in the reing of King Rama I and dedicated to the heavens. Six of the group are outside the balcony, two are inside. Each has its own name.

Temple of the Reclining buddha

Hor Phra Khanthan-rat: Standing in the western corner of the balcony, this is where the Phra Puttakhanthan-rat figure is enshrined. It presides over the royal rain-making ceremony and the ceremony of the first rice planting. Inside are the paintings by the mural artist Khrua In Khong.

Hor Phra Ratcha Karamanusorn : Inside this structure are 34 Buddha images in various positions. The building was built by King Rama III and dedicated to the kings of Ayutthaya and Thonburi.

Hor Phra Ratcha Pongsanusorn : Built in the reing of King Rama IV, this is the location of the Buddha image of the reigning King of the Rattanakosin era. Inside are murals of Royal chronicles of Ayutthaya by Khrua In Khong.

Hok Phra Nak : Situated behind the temple, this traditional Thai building roofed with glazed tiles contains the ashes of the Royal Family.

THINGS TO KNOW:

Address: Thanon Na Phra Lan

Tel: (02) 224-3328 226-0255
Fax: (02) 225-9158

To get there :

1. By bus: No 8, No 12
2. By boat: Chao Phraya River Express (disembark at Tha Chang)

Open: 8:30 am – 3:30 pm daily

Admission: 500 ฿ per person (foreigner); Free for Thai people

Ticket price includes admission to Vimanmek Mansion and to the Royal Thai Decorations and Coin Pavilion, as well as a guide booklet.

Free English tours are available daily; do-it-yourself visitors can rent audio headsets with a map, near the ticket office. Photo ID and a credit card are required for the latter one.

Dress code must be observed. No country allows visitors dressed in swimsuits to enter its national monuments; Thailand is no exception. Please use common sense.

The sign says it all: no shorts, sleeveless tops or any revealing dress. No open-heeled sandals. If necessary, you may rent appropriate footwear and clothing from the Grand Palace authority booth free of charge.

Misc :

Thai name for the Emerald Buddha: Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn / Phra Kaew Morakot

Getting there by car is not recommended due to heavy traffic. Nevertheless, nearby parking lots are at Ratchavoradit Pier and Sanam Luang Wat Mahatat

Wat Phra Kaew: sermons are held at 1pm every Sunday

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS:

1. National Theatre
2. Khao San Road
3. National Museum
4. Mae Toranee Statue
5. Sanam Luang
6. Wat Mahathat
7. City Pillar
8. Wat Rajapradit
9. Wat Rajabophit
10. Wat Pho
11. Wat Arun

Piers:
A. Thai Thien
B. Tha Rong Mo
C. Tha Chang
D. Tha Maharat
D. Tha Phra Chan

Grand Palace

The Grand Palace

Every visitor to Bangkok should see the magnificent buildings within the Grand Palace compound to get a feeling of the grandeur architectural style.

Since the founding of Bangkok as the Nations capital by King Rama I, The Grand Palace has been the major architectural symbol of The Thai Royal Family. In the present time, The Royal Family resides at Chitralada Palace while The Grand Palace is used for ceremonial purposes.

The main buildings within the Grand Palace compound were built for King Rama V, who was the first Thai King to travel to Europe.

The Grand Palace

Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat, built in 1877 by King Rama V as his Royal Residence, is the most highly recognized architectural landmark of the Nation. The central Throne Hall, which was formerly used for the reception of foreign envoys, is flanked by reception areas decorated with galleries of portraiture. The central room on the second floor is used as a shrine for the reliquary ashes of Kings Rama IV, Rama V, Rama VI, Rama VII and Rama VIII.

Borom Phiman Mansion was also constructed during the reign of King Rama V. When his son, King Rama VI ascended to the throne, he had it improved for use as his residence. The three succeeding Kings also resided here at one time or another.

The Siwalai Gardens, where the office of The Royal Household Bureau is located, were used for receptions as well as a recreation area for the royal women and children.

Maha Monthien Prasat houses The Audience Hall of Amarin Winitchai where ceremonies of the Court usually take place in front of the throne surmounted by its canopy of nine tiers of white cloth.

The Grand Palace

THINGS TO KNOW:

How to go there: The most enjoyable route is to take the BTS Skytrain to Taksin Station. From here take a Chao Phraya River Express boat to Tha Chang Wang Luang Pier. It is a short walk from the pier to the entrance to The Grand Palace public entrance.

Opening Hours: Open to the public everyday, except during special Royal Ceremonies, from 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.

Admission Fee: Baht 500. This also includes admission to Wat Phra Kaeo, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion in the same compound and to Vimanmek Mansion Museum on Ratchawithi Road. Baht 100. for rental personal audio guide in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese or Mandarin.

Contacts: Tel : 0 2623 5500 ext.3100, 0 2224 3273
Website: www.palaces.thai.net
Nearby Attractions: Tha Chang Pier , Wat Pho, Wat Arun, National Museum

The Grand Palace

Dress Code: Visitors are required to dress appropriately. Thus the following dress – code (applicable to both ladies and gentlemen) is requested:
1. Shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, tight fitting trousers, as well as tights can not be worn as outer garments.
2. See-through shirts and blouses, as well as culottes or quarter length trousers can not be worn.
3. Sleeveless shirts or vests can not be worn as outer garments.
4. Sandals (without ankle or heel straps) can not be worn.
5. All shirt sleeves, whether long or short, can not be rolled up.
6. Sweat shirts and sweat pants, wind-cheaters, pajamas and fisherman trousers can not be worn.

Siam Park City

Siam Park City

Siam Park is located on Sukhaphiban 2 Road. Siam Park is the biggest leisure park in Thailand, in 300 rai. It is equipped with  world class rides, exciting adventures, variety of entertainment and the most refreshing water park .It contains   a man-made sea with towering slide, Vortex : 1 of 2 largest suspended looping coasters with 33 m. high  and 765 m.long and speed at 80 km/h. ,  Boomerang; a roller coaster at speed 80 km/h before twisting upside down, Condor; which will fly you 50 meter above ground with soaring and dipping the sky, Aladdin ; a great excitement of centrifugal spin,  Si-Am Tower ; viewing Bangkok at 100 m.high with  Giant Drop; drop to the ground from 75 meter high.

Siam Park City

Open:  daily fraom 10.00 am. -6.00 pm.
Tel: 0 2919 7200-19
Website: www.siamparkcity.com

How to get there:

by Car/ Taxi – Along Serithai rd. heading, turn lest to Siam Park Avenue (5 km. From Bangkapi junction) – From Ardnarong-Ramindra Expressway, take Ramindra exit heading Minburi. Go straight forward passing km.8 bridge. Fashion Island Department Store will be on your left, go straight 1 km from Fashion Island., Nopparat Rajadhani Hospital on the same side. Turn right to Siam Park Avenue at the traffic light opposite to the hospital.
– From Eastern Outer Ring Rd. (Bangna-Bangpa-in), take Serithai exit heading Minburi. Go straight forwarded for 1 km. Turn left to Siam Park Avenue.

by Bus
– non A/C no.60,71,96,115   A/C no. 168,519  Microbus no. 8,17 (Buses stop at the park’s gate)

Safari World

Safari World

Close encounters with the animal kingdom. This 170 acre park offers many opportunities for fun and excitement as you get close to wild animals roaming free or see others performing tricks.

The main attraction is as the name says traveling through the open spaces where wild animals can be seen in their natural habitat from the windows of a tour coach or your own car. The journey is 8 kilometres and takes about 45 minutes. On the way you will have close encounters with rare and endangered species. One highlight you should not miss is feeding time for the lions and tigers. It will send a chill down your spine.

Safari World

There are many animals in the underwater world too. Some are very playful and mischievous. They will split your sides with laughter as the sea lions and their friends perform in the Sea Lion Show at Lighthouse Cove.

Add more excitement to your visit on a boat ride through the tropical jungle where hungry crocodiles await and head-hunters have their eyes on you. Beware of the gorillas lurking in the forest. You had better hold on to your seat as the boat moves through the mangroves and thick reeds and shoots down a heart-stopping flume.

All this adventure will probably build up an appetite so you head to the restaurants and kiosks spread throughout the park.

THINGS TO KNOW:

How to get there: Bus routes 26, 60, 71, 96, 501 and go to Safari World by “Song Theaw” mini bus.

Open: Daily from 8 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.

Admission: Adult 700 baht, Child 450 baht

Tel: 0 2518 1000-19, 0 2914 4100-19

Website: www.safariworld.com

Royal Thai Air Force Museum

Royal Thai Air Force Museum

The Type 10 (Hawk 3), a fighter aircraft, played a significant role during the Indochina War. This is only one of its kind remaining in the world today.

The Royal Thai Air Force museum was set up in 1952 with the purpose of collecting and restoring defense articles of different periods including equipments and aircraft in use during the early period of Thai aviation history up to the present. The RTAF museum was first located at a hangar west of Don Muang airfield and was not opened to public until 27 March 1959. The present musem was constructed in 1968 at a total cost of 6,635,000 Bahts. The museum was officially opened to the public on 24 January 1969.

Royal Thai Air Force Museum

The exhibits at the Royal Thai Air Force museum feature many types of aircraft rarely found anywhere else in the world. Many of the were in the service during the war and  played a vital role in the safeguarding of our nation’s independence. The numerous victory Medals awarded to the RTAF pilots attest to the bravery and valour of our heroes. The Royal Thai Air Force has tried to develop its museum to ensure that it has complete historical records of the Royal Thai Air Force.

THINGS TO KNOW:

Address: Phahon Yothin Road, behind Don Muang Airport

Tel: 0 2534 1853, 0 2534 2113
Fax: 0 2534 1936

To get there:

Buses no. 34, 39, 114, 356
Air Conditioned Buses no. 3, 21, 22, 25, 34, 39, 114, 356

Open: 09.0-16.00 daily

Admission: Free, but must be in groups; guide can be hired in advance.

Misc.: Closed on Arms Forces Day (Jan 25) and on public holidays.

Website: www.rtaf.mi.th/museum

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS:

RTAF Headquarters, Royal Thai Air Force Academy, Army Air Defense Command Museum.

Dusit Zoo

Dusit Zoo

Dusit Zoo has a very good collection of animals from around the world. It is ideal for a family outing or just for those who would like to know more about animal behavior.

The Dusit Zoo was established in 1938 and covers an area of 118 rai in the Dusit District of Bangkok. Under the administration of The Zoological Organization under the Royal Patronage of H.M. The King, it welcomes more than 2,500,000 visitors a year. It takes care of over 1,000 birds and nearly 2,000 animals.

Dusit Zoo

Major sections include a Nocturnal Animals Exhibit where you can see how they live in the night- time environment. The Reptiles and Amphibians Center has more than 70 species.

There is a special Childrens Zoo where youngsters can have contact with small animals that are of interest to children.

Dusit Zoo

You can learn about animal behavior at the Animal Presentation area including how they live in their respective environments. Visitors can witness and experience the animals in person.

For more fun, there is Playland where children can really enjoy themselves on amusement rides. There are other more sedate rides available on the lake.


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THINGS TO KNOW:

How to get there: Bus routes 18, 28, 70, 108, 510, 515, 539, 542

Open: Daily from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Admission: Adult 100 baht, Child 50 baht

Tel : 0 2281 2000, 0 2282 7111-3

Website : www.zoothailand.org

Wat Benchamabophit (Marble Temple)

The Marble Temple

Chances are, you have already seen the image of this temple – it is featured on the back of the 5-baht coin. In 1898, King Rama V ordered the construction of Dusit Palace, the first royal palace outside the city walls. The old Dusit temple and another deserted temple on the palace grounds were dismantled. The new temple was designed by Prince Naris, the famous artist and half-brother of King Rama V. The temple was built using white Carrara marble imported from Italy – hence its tourist name, the Marble Temple. The original name, Wat Benchamabopit means The Temple of the Fifth Great Monarch, which was King Chulalongkorn, Rama V.

The Bot is a prime example of modern Thai architecture. It is a four-sided structure with a four-tiered roof and a corridor in the back. The courtyard behind the Bot exhibits 53 Buddha images representing different periods of Buddhist art. It also has Buddha images from other Asian countries such as Japan China, India and Tibet. Two are worth extra attention: The Sukhotha-style Buddha image in Walking posture and the one in Subduing Mara posture are said to be the most beautiful of their kind.

Inside the temple, the large Buddha image is the replica of Phra Buddha Chinnarat, under which are the ashes of the revered King Rama V.

The area that separates monks from laypeople is connected by bridges, built in several styles such as cup bridge, tusk bridge, image bridge etc.

Wat Benchamabophit is a pleasant place to visit early in the morning when the monks are chanting. Unlike in most other temples, monks don’t go out seeking alms but are instead visited by merit-makers between 06.00-07.00 in the morning. Other good times to visit the temple are during certain festivals that are held there – for information, see the side panel.


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THINGS TO KNOW:

Address: 69 Rama V Road

Tel: 0 2281 2501, 0 2628 7947

To get there: it is situated on the corner of Th Si Ayutthaya and Th Phra Ram V, diagonally opposite to Chitlada Palace. Buses 72 and 503, and air-con bus 3 stop nearby.

Open: 06.00-18.00 daily

Admission: 20฿

Other: School on Buddhism on every Sunday, 13.00-16.30

In April: Entering Monkhood Ceremony

In July: Hilltribe Entering Monkhood Ceremony

In October: Tan Kuai Salak Festival.

 

Wat Indrawihan (The Standing Buddha)

The Standing Buddha

It is an awesome feeling to stand before this Buddha image that reaches to the sky at 32 metres tall.During the reign of King Rama I he suppressed a rebellion in Laos and brought members of the Lao royal family to settle in this area. One of these was Chao Inthawong, who was a devout Buddhist, helped to restore the local temple which is now Wat Intharawihan.

In 1867, Somdej Phra Buddhachan started the construction of this giant Buddha called Luang Pho To, logs and structural steel were used as alternate abutments. After his death in 1872 construction continued until completion in 1927. This spanned the reigns of King Rama IV to King Rama VII.

Luang Pho To stands 32 metres tall and is 11 metres wide. As it faces east, it is best photographed in morning light.

IMG_2694

On two occasions, in 1964 and 1967, Their Majesties The King, The Queen and their children covered this statue of Buddha at the Topknot and forehead with gold leaves.

The Topknot contains relics of The Lord Buddha which were donated by the Government of Sri Lanka and placed there in 1978 by H.R.H The Crown Prince Vachiralongkorn.

For Bangkoks Bi-Centennial Celebrations in 1982, the then Abbot, Phra Khru Woraphattikhun carried out restoration including decoration with 24 K golden mosaics from Italy.

Devotees believe that Luang Pho To can bless everyone with success, particularly if they present the head of a mackerel fish, a boiled egg and a lei of flowers.


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THINGS TO KNOW:

Address: 114 Kasat Road

Tel: 0 2628 5550-2
Fax: 0 2282 8429

To get there : located on Kasat Rd. not far from the intersection of Samsen Rd.
By boat: get off at Tha Thewes and away from the river.
Bus routes 10, 49

Open: 08.30-20.00 daily

Admission: free

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS:

Bank of Thailand Museum, National Library

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

 IMG_2758

Its official name is Wat Phrachetuphon Vimon Mangkararam Ratchaworamahawihan, although it is commonly called Wat Po.Founded during the 16th century, Wat Pho is most famous for the golden reclining Buddha that measues 46 metres and has feet inlaid with mother-of pearl. This is the main attraction that draws visitors to the temple. In more modern times, Wat Pho has gained international recognition as a meditation centre and for the traditional Thai massage that is both practiced and taught here.

Traditionally, temples were the schools as there was no formal education system, with monks providing basic lesson in both spiritual and secular subjects. King Rama III turned Wat Po into a major centre for learning in botany, geography and history.

Bas reliefs around one of the main buildings depict the story of the Ramakian which is the Thai adaption of the Indian Ramayana.

For those interested in traditional Thai medicine, there is a pavilion that serves to both impart knowledge and provide treatment. The walls have marble tablets describing basic anatomy and treatments. In the late afternoon, traditional medicine practitioners are there to dispense herbal mixtures. Nearby, there is a cloister where you can have a traditional Thai massage for a very small payment.

** In  2008, the historic marble inscriptions in Wat Pho have been registered with UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MOW) as MOW documentary heritage for Asia and Pacific Region

Wat Pho

THINGS TO SEE:

Reclining Buddha: this celebrated Buddha image is the work of artisans from the Department of Ten Crafts. On the soles of the image’s feet are the 108 auspicious signs of the Buddha in mother-of-pearl inlay. In the reign of King Rama III the entire image was gilded with gold.

Chedi: this temple features an impressive collection of chedis; there are 99 of them. The four most famous chedis are called Phra Maha Chedi of the Four Reigns.

Phra Putthadevapatimakorn: the principle Buddha image is enshrined in the ubosot. It contains Buddha relics and the ashes of King Rama I.

Phra Phuttaloknatsasadajan: this image stands in an alcove behind the wihan. It is the tallest bronze standing Buddha image.

Wihan: there are 12 wihan in Wat Pho, more than in any other temple. There are four Phra Wihan Thit, four Phra Wihan Kod, two Phra Wihan Noi, the Wihan of the Reclining Buddha and a Royal Wihan.

Wasukree Mansion or Poet’s house: this was the residence of Somdet Phra Mahasamanachao Krom Phra Paramanuchitchinoros, one of the finest Rattanakosin era poets.

Wat Pho School of Traditional Medicine and Massage: preparation of herbal medicines and diagnosis are taught here, as well as the traditional massage seen in the sculptures compiled on King Rama III’s orders. The teaching is practical, and every day large number of visitors, Thai and foreign come to study and to be massaged.

Chao Phor Krommaluang Chumporn Shrine: This was moved from Nanglerng Bridge to the Phra Wihan Noi, near the southern gate.


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THINGS TO KNOW:

Address: 2 Sanamchai Road (south of Grand Palace)

Tel: 0 2222 1969
Thai Massage School: 0 2221 3686

To get there:
Bus routes 1, 3, 12, 25,44, 47, 53, 60, 82, 91, 501, 508
the temple is just south of the Grand Palace. Nearest pier is Tha Tien.

Open: 8:30 am – 6:00 pm daily

Admission: 50 ฿ per person (foreigner); Free for Thai people

Website: www.watpho.com

 Other:

– Dress code must be observed.
– Massage, Thai medicine and herbal therapy courses (7 – 10 days)
– Traditional Thai massage services (200 baht an hour)

-Free English tours are available daily.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: Grand Palace,Wat Arun, National Museum, Museum Siam

Piers:
A. Thai Thien
B. Tha Chang
C. Tha Prannok
D. Tha Maharat
E. Tha Bangkok Noi

Can you buy cheaper passes for the Sky Train

Tourists have a choice between two kinds of passes to make their journey cheaper.

One-Day Pass (100 baht) – This pass gives you unlimted trips on the BTS Sky Train system. This ticket is valid within the day that the ticket is validated at a BTS station ticket office.

Three-Day Tourist Pass (280 baht) – This ticket gives you unlimited trips around Bangkok for 3 days.

Obviously, you will need to work out for yourself whether these passes are worth it for you. Basically, if you are planning at least three trips on the Sky Train then it is worth considering. You might not only save money, but you save time and hassle by not having to keep buying new tickets.

There are other passes available which are mainly aimed at commuters. For example, the 30 Day passes and the Skycard which can be refilled.

30-Day Pass for adults:

10 trips – 250 baht (25 baht per trip)
15 trips – 300 baht (20 baht per trip)
30 trips – 540 baht (18 baht per trip)

30-Day Pass for students:

10 trips – 160 baht (16 baht per trip)
15 trips – 210 baht (14 baht per trip)
30 trips – 360 baht (12 baht per trip)

Skycard – Available for 200 baht, including 30 baht refundable deposit. You can refill this stored value ticket at any time. The ticket may be used for up to 2 years.