Royal Grand Palace is a remarkable palace in the world. With various architectural styles, history, and absolutely fantastic arts in the temple of Emerald Buddha which is also the royal chapel of the palace, Royal Grand Palace become the place you shouldn't miss the most in Thailand undoubtedly. To come visiting Thailand but never been here is just like you have not visit Thailand at all.
The grand palace is located at the center of Ratanakosin Island since 1782 at the same time as the founding of Bangkok. With in the area of approximately 60 acres of the palace, it can be divided into three major sections, inner court, central count, and outer court. Inner court is the area for royal residence so visitors are not allowed to get in. Central court is just next to the inner court, and it is an area of Thorne halls. The other one, outer court, is the area from the entrance gate to the ticket shop and the Temple of Emerald Buddha.
Temple of Emerald Buddha
Perhaps, the most fascinating in Royal Grand Palace for most tourists is the Temple of Emerald Buddha. Those who come to this temple for the first time are always fascinated with unique architectures, distinctive arts, statues of mythical beings and enormous demons, fantastic Mural Painting from Ramakien - Thailand national epic, and definitely the Emerald Buddha Image. Visitors can borrow tour guide audio to tell the story about each building and architecture, where this guiding audio is available in many languages also.
This temple is different from common temple because there is only ceremonial area in the temple, while normal temple has both ceremonial area and monk’s living area. In short, the Emerald Buddha temple does not have monks because it is just a royal chapel of the palace. According to previous main palaces in Thailand, they are always a temple only for performing royal ceremony, but not for monk living.
Entire interior wall of the cloister around the temple is decorated with beautiful mural painting from the Ramakien epic. There are about 178 chapters of the story, where each story has poem telling what going on in the story. Though, the poems are quite difficult to understand even for Thai local residences. It would be only those who are really clear about Ramakien story can interpret the painting. However, it is fascinating enough for just having a look at this mural painting story.
At the gate of the Temple of Emerald Buddha, there are six pairs of demons from the Ramakien story also. Each demon has its own name and it was built to protect evil spirit to get into the temple. The original demon style here is actually come from a famous temple, named Temple of Dawn located on just the other side of the river from the grand palace.
According to the name of the temple, the Emerald Buddha image is the most important thing in this temple unquestionably. Nowadays, only a small good-quality green jade can have high value, but what about the emerald Buddha image which made from great-quality green jade entirely. It can be seen as a priceless Buddha image, which is also the highest respected Buddha image by Thais. The age of this Buddha image since it was found in Chiang Rai province is approximately almost 700 years. This Buddha image enshrines in the ordination hall of the Temple of Emerald Buddha. Have a look and pay respect to the Emerald Buddha, you might earn good things in your life. In the ordination hall, it is restrict for having a photo though.
The golden great stupa standing in the temple is a structure that most visitors have recognized. It appears in almost every photos of Royal Grand Palace. It can be seen from far away outside the area of the palace as well. This great stupa was built at first in the reign of King Rama IV in 1855. At that time, the stupa had not covered with golden mosaics yet, but the golden colour was covered in the celebration of 100th anniversary of Bangkok in 1882, by the order of King Rama V. Inside this great stupa, there are Buddha relics enshrined.
The Temple of Emerald Buddha was built at the same time as Royal Grand Palace in 1982 for moving the Emerald Buddha image from the old capital city here. At that time, the cloister of the temple was in rectangular shape, but in the reign of King Rama IV around mid 19 Century, the king order to give major renovation to the temple, including the construction of the large elevated platform in the middle of the temple. But because the cloister was not large enough to surround large elevated platform, the cloister next to the platform then had to be renovated also. Later on, major renovations were given every fifty years.
Central Court of Royal Grand Palace
The major hall we can have a look here is Amarindradra Winitchai Hall, Chakri Maha Prasart Hall, and Dusit Maha Prasart Hall.
Chakri Maha Prasat Hall was built in 1882 by the order of King Rama V. At first, this building was constructed in European style, but at almost the completion of the construction, an advisor of the king, named Chong Boonnak, discuss with the king for the Thai-style roof, since the Palace in Ayutthaya was built in that style. Then, as presenting right in the court, Chakri Maha Prasat becomes identical for a combination styles between western and Thai. It is three-storey building with 7-tier spire roof. The first floor is for old weapon exhibition, the second floor is the audience hall, and the third floor is for keeping ashes of several previous kings of Chakri dynasty.
Dusit Maha Prasat Hall was built in 1785 by the ordered of King Rama I. It is a cross-shape building topped with 7-tier-spire roof. The gable roof of this building is also decorated with traditional Thai architecture, representing Garuda bird seizing the tail of Naka snake. At the portico, there is a throne for the king to perform royal work with vassal state. Inside the building, there are two important thrones situated. One is mother-of-pearl in laid throne covered with great white nine-tier umbrella at the center of the hall, and the other one is the mother-of-pearl in laid bed chamber on the east wing of the hall.
Amarindra Winitchai Hall was the place for officials of state and for receiving royal credentials from foreign ambassador; credential from Sir John Bowring, England Ambassador, in The reign of King Rama IV, for example. Today, however, there are no longer present the credentials here anymore. There are two thrones here, where one in the front is Phra Thaen Sawetachat, and the other one at the back is named Busabok Mala, a fascinating throne built in the form of the boat and covered with a pavillion roof.
However, since Royal Grand Palace is the King place, proper dress code is needed for visiting this palace - covered upper arms, long pants,and those who wear skirts need to be careful about the length of the skirt. Wearing short pants, legging pants, short skirt, sleeveless shirt and see-through clothes is inappropriate. Despite wearing long pants or jeans, it shouldn’t be a ripped jeans or holey jeans. he pants should cover the ankle and wearing slippers or sandals is improper.
Those who does not well prepare their clothes will have to rent supporting clothes, Sarong, from the rental office at the entrance. It requires a deposit for the rent as well.
The opening time is around 8:30 am. – 3:30 pm, pretty early for closing time. The admission fee for foreigners is now 500 Baht per person, included The Royal Regalia Museum and Museum of The Emerald Buddha Temple. Moreover, the ticket, within 7 days, can also be used to get into Vimanmek Mansion (Golden Teakwood Mansion) in Dusit District.
Note that when visiting Royal Grand Palace, visitor should get in Temple of Emerald Buddha first because the temple is in the outer court, and once visitors have been in the central court, visitors will not be able to use the ticket to get in again. Additionally, the ticket bought at Royal Grand Palace can be used for getting in Vimanmak Mansion at Dusit Palace, Bangkok as well.
- The easiest way and saving time is, of course, to take a taxi or Tuk Tuk, a motorized three-wheeled vehicle. Just a warning for taking a taxi, tourists should request the taxi drivers turn on the meter. Taking a Tuk Tuk can be an interesting choice because it can provide a sense of adventure, but remember that Tuk Tuk doesn’t have the meter fare. The driver will give the tourists an approximately price, so making sure that they won’t take advantage by quoting an unfair price, taking you to the wrong direction or even offering you to go somewhere else instead.
- One of enjoyable routes to go there, The Grand Palace, is to take a BTS skytrain to Saphan Taksin Station. After that, take a Chao Phraya Express Boat at Sathorn Pier to get to Tha Chang Pier. Then walk only a few minutes to The Grand Palace.
* A little suggestion for visiting The Emerald Buddha Temple and The Grand Palace is to get there early to avoid crowded hours. Having lunch at Tha Chang Pier is a good choice because the food price is reasonable. Then, if not to tired, walk down south to visit The Temple of Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) or get on a ferry from Tha Tien Pier to The Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), just across Chao Phraya River.