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