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Grand Palace, Bangkok

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Grand Palace, BangkokGrand Palace, Bangkok (21 December, 2002)


The Grand Palace (GPS: 13.75219, 100.49119) is the main royal palace in Bangkok. Together with the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which is located within its compound, it forms the main cultural precinct and one of the biggest tourist attractions of the city. The Grand Palace is located in Rattanakosin, which was where King Rama I shifted his capital in 1782. It remains the seat of power of the Kingdom of Thailand to this day.

King Rama I began construction of the Grand Palace on 6 May, 1782. The original palace was built entirely of wood. He held a brief victory coronation on 10 June. Three days later, a formal coronation ceremony was held, on 13 June, 1782. This date was used to mark the start of the Chakri Dynasty.

The Chakri Mahaprasat Palace, within the Grand Palace of BangkokThe Chakri Mahaprasat Palace, within the Grand Palace of Bangkok
photo sourcehttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grand_Palace_01.jpg
authorshipAimaimyi
photo licensing

The Grand Palace covers an area of 132 rai1 or approximately 211,200 sq meters. Before the palace took shape here, the land was occupied by Chinese merchants who were given notice to pack up. They settled slightly downriver from the Grand Palace, in an area called Sampeng, which is where Bangkok's Chinatown is located to this day.

Actual construction of the Grand Palace, as well as its fortifications and gates, only took place a year later, in 1783. Under King Rama II, the Grand Palace grounds were expanded southward to a total area of 152.5 rai or 244,000 sq meters. Around it runs the fortification walls that measure 410 meters on the northern side, 510 meters on the eastern side, 360 meters on the southern side and 630 meters on the western side. From then till today, the size of the palace compound has remained unchanged.

The Dusit Mahaprasat Palace, within the Grand Palace of BangkokThe Dusit Mahaprasat Palace, within the Grand Palace of Bangkok
photo sourcehttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grand_Palace_03.jpg
authorshipAimaimyi
photo licensing

Within the palace compound are residences of the king and queen, the princes and princesses, from 1783 until 1925. The complex comprises three areas, namely:
  • The Outer Zone: This is where various government offices are located. Among them are the offices of the military officials, the civil officials, the harbor department and the royal treasury.
  • The Middle Zone: This is where the monarch and his family used to live, up till 1925. The main buildings of the Grand Palace is located here, among them the Phra Maha Prasat and the Phra Ratchamontien.
  • The Inner Zone: This is the private quarters where the female members of the royal family lived, along with prices under the age of 13.
  • Getting in

    The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha are open daily from 8:30am-3:30pm. Entrance fee is 200 baht for a non-Thai person. The ticket allows you to visit the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha as well as the Coin Museum, and on the other side of Bangkok, the Vimanmek Mansion and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall. The Palace halls and weapons museum are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. You can catch the free guided tours in English taking place at 10:00am, 1:30p. Audioguides are also available for hire for 100 baht, with passport, credit card or 5000 baht surety.

    You enter the Grand Palace from Viseschaisri Gate, located at the middle part of the northern wall at Na Phra Lan Road. The massive doors lead you through an avenue towards the ticket office. On your left is a green lawn called Sanam Chai. From Sanam Chai, you catch a glimpse of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

    At the end of the avenue, turn left to pass through the ticket office, buy your ticket and then proceed through the turnstiles. Before entering, let me tell you in advance that the public areas are quite small compared to the whole space covered by the Grand Palace. In fact, many of the buildings are only within reach of your eyes, not your feet. To give you an idea, see the map. The area shaded in yellow is the one open to the public. They can be group as follows:

    1. Temple of the Emerald Buddha
    2. The Grand Palace
    3. The Coins Museum

    Dress Code

    If you want to problem in getting in, dress like you are going to the palace. The royal palaces of Bangkok are the most fastidious when it comes to what your attire. No vests, no sleeveless, no shorts, no see-through clothes, no mini-skirts, no slippers / flip-flops. But help in around the corner if your dress doesn't match. The office just inside the main entrance has appropriate clothes to lend you, shoes too. Socks are sold for 15 baht per pair, while other items are lent for a deposit of 100 baht per piece, plus your passport or driver's license or credit card as surety.

    Photography

    There are many places within the Grand Palace as well as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha where photography is forbidden. This is especially so with regards the Emerald Buddha image. In fact, taking pictures of other Buddha images are also prohibited, but the rule is less strictly enforced; not so the Emerald Buddha. Tripod is also not allowed anywhere in the Grand Palace, so you may have to deposit it at the ticket office and collect it afterwards.

    Getting there

    As there are no Skytrains to Rattanakosin, the easiest way to reach the Grand Palace is by taxi, which should cost you about 100 baht, and you get to ride in air-conditioned comfort. I would stay away from tuk tuks as they cost as much as taxis, their seats block out views, and you have to eat dust all the way. If you prefer a non-taxi approach, then I'd recommend taking the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin Station (S6). From there, catch an express boat at the Central Pier (Sathorn) to the Tha Chang (N9) pier. If you are game to take the bus, Nos. 1, 35, 44, 47, 123 and 201 take you there, as well as the air-conditioned Nos. 2, 3, 7, 8, 12, 25, 39, 44 and 82.

    Location: Na Phra Lan Road (entrance)
    Opening hours: 8:30am - 3:30pm daily
    Entrance fees: 200 baht, includes entry to Vimanmek Palace
    Photography: OK except for the ubosot of the Emerald Buddha

    Footnotes:
    1. Rai is a Thai unit of measurement for land size. Rai, a Thai land measurement, approximates 1600 square meters. Another Thai land measurement is Talang Wah, which is about 4 square meters. 1 rai = 400 talang wah

    The Grand Palace is on the map of Bangkok

    List of Palaces in Bangkok and Palaces in Thailand; list of Districts of Bangkok

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