Home > Bangkok, FAM (Familiarization) Tour, FAM Trip, General, Thailand, Thailand FAM, Travelogue > The Grand Palace, Bangkok, the Royal Residence of the King of Thailand

The Grand Palace, Bangkok, the Royal Residence of the King of Thailand

The Grand Palace, Bangkok

The Royal Residence of the King of Thailand

Also see: FAM tour of Thailand

The Grand Palace (Phra Boromma Maha Ratcha Wang) is a complex of palaces, temples, pavilions and stupas in the heart of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand . It is located on the banks of Chao Phraya River and is on the Ratanakosin Island. (Also see: Heritage Walk of Rattanakosin Island)

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The Grand Palace, Rattanakosin Island, Bangkok, Thailand

The construction of The Grand Palace began in 1782 under Rama I, the founder of Chakri Dynasty. After overthrowing King Taksin, who ruled from Thonburi, on the other side of the Chao Phraya River, Rama I dug canals (Also see: Fortification of Bangkok) to set up the artificial island of Rattanakosin, his new capital.

 

Map of The Grand Palace, Bangkok (Click to enlarge)

Map of The Grand Palace, Bangkok (Click to enlarge)

Due to short of funds and materials the initial palace was entirely made of wood. On 10 June 1782, the king ceremonially crossed the river from Thonburi to take permanent residence in the new palace. Three days later he was officially coronated.

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Gate of Glorious Victory, entrance of The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Over the next few years the king began replacing wooden structures with masonry, rebuilding the walls, forts, gates, throne halls and royal residences. This rebuilding included the royal chapel, which would come to house the Emerald Buddha.

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Inside The Grand Palace complex

To find more material for these constructions, King Rama I ordered his men to go upstream to the old capital city of Ayutthaya, the old capital of Siam.

They dismantled structures and removed as many bricks as they could find, while not removing any from the temples.

This lead to the construction of the cermonials hall and The Grand Palace followed the outline of the Royal Palace of Ayutthaya.

After the final completion of the ceremonial halls of the palace, the king held a full traditional coronation ceremony in 1785. Throughout successive reigns, many new buildings and structures were added, especially during the reign of King Rama V (reign 1868 – 1910).

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Inside The Grand Palace complex

Although initially The Grand Palace was known as Royal Palace (Phra Ratcha Wang Luang) but during the reign of Rama IV (1851 – 68) it came to be known as The Grand Palace (Phra Boromma Maha Ratcha Wang).

Till 1925 The Grand Palace served as the royal residence and royal court along with the offices of the royal government.

After which the king, the Royal Family and the government were no longer permanently settled at the palace, and had moved to other residences.

Finally after the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932 all the royal agencies completely moved out of The Grand Palace.

Although the royal family and the offices have long moved out but it is still used for official events. Several royal ceremonies and state functions are held within the walls of the palace every year.

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Temple of Emerald Buddha, The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Rather than being a single structure, the Grand Palace is made up of numerous buildings, halls, pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. Its asymmetry and eclectic styles are due to its organic development, with additions and rebuilding being made by successive reigning kings over 200 years of history. It is divided into several quarters.

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Chakkri Maha Prasat Throne Hall, The Grand Palace, Ratanakosin Island, Bangkok

Today a major tourist attraction of Bangkok and in spite of its staggering 500 baht (about 1150 INR) entry fee for foreigners (Thais have a free entry) it is always crowded by foreigners and local alike.

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Wat Phara Kaew Museum, The Grand Palace

The entry to The Grand Palace is through the Gate of Glorious Victory on the north. A tree lined entrance leads to the ticket counter on the left is a lawn and beyond it towers the spires of the temples, pavilions and stupas.

After the ticket counter a narrow passageway leads to the enclosure housing the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew).

This is again a walled complex with the walled complex of The Grand Palace and apart from the Temple of Emerald Buddha there are several other structures in the complex.

The 26 inch Emerald Buddha is housed inside a small but elegant structure. The Emerald Buddha, a dark green statue, carved from a single jade stone (“emerald” in Thai means deep green colour and not the specific stone).

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Cannons at The Grand Palace

Except for the Thai King and the crown prince, no other persons are allowed to touch the statue.

The king changes the cloak around the statue three times a year, corresponding to the summer, winter, and rainy seasons, an important ritual performed to bring good fortune to the country during each season. Photography inside the Emerald Buddha Temple is strictly prohibited.

The entrance of the Emerald Buddha Temple is flanked with two golden stupas (chedi) and behind the temple is a towering golden stupa (chedi). Apart from this there are monumets of the Thai Kings, pavilions, library and several other shrines. On the eastern side are eight towering porcelain stupas (chedi) similar to the one at Wat Arun, but much smaller in size. The inner side of the boundary wall houses beautiful frescos from the epic Ramayana.

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Decorative figures, The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Just south of the walled Emerald Buddha Complex is the Middle Court or the Khet Phra Racha Than Chan Klang, where the most important residential and state buildings are located and has several ceremonial hall and throne rooms. The most attractive structure in this area is the palace of Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat.

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Stupas (Chedis) and statues at The Grand Palace, Bangkok

The whole of the Chakri Maha Prasat group was the work of King Rama V and foreign architects in the 19th century and thus have a blend of oriental and European architecture. Sadly the interiors are not accessible and it is applicable to all the palaces of the middle court.

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A mix of European and Thai ornamentation at The Grand Palace, Bangkok

To the south of the middle court is the inner court totally out of bounds of tourist. The Museum of the Emerald Buddha Temple is located inside the The Grand Palace and accessible to visitors. A two storied European styled building is complete with portico and ionic pillars.

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Royal guards on horses patrol the street in fron of The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Although the building dates back to 1902 but it was converted into a museum in 1982 to mark the bi centenary of the The Grand Palace. The museum displays a varied selection of artifacts. Outside the museum is an amazing assortment of cannons.

Tourist Information:
Entry Fee: 500 baht (about 1150 INR) for foreigners. Thais have a free entry
Timing: 08:30 to 16:30, gates close at 15:30
Dress Code: It is a functional Buddhist temple so there is a dress code. Men must wear long pants and short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirts. Women must wear skirts or pants extending at least to the knee, and also should not wear a top that reveals bare shoulders.

Note: I visited Thailand as part of a FAM trip organized by Tourism authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thai Airways.

Special Thanks:

  • Aso Lori (TAT, New Delhi) and Sajid Khan (Thai Airways, Kolkata)
  • My fellow FAM participants Amit Sachdev (Unique Air Travels), Sanjay Kr Kothari (Just Holidays), Vandana Arya (Gainwell Leisure Holidays), Piyush Banerjee (Discovery Holidays), Asif Alim (Neptune Holidays) and Nandini Gangully (T2, The Telegraph)
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  1. February 7, 2019 at 9:41 PM

    Lovely shot .

  2. February 27, 2019 at 3:35 PM

    great write-ups, been to Bangkok but wasn’t able to visit Grand Palace

    • February 27, 2019 at 9:36 PM

      You really missed something. Although the entry fee is a staggering 500 baht but it is definitely worth it.

  3. April 1, 2019 at 12:10 PM

    Really Nice Post Awesome photo

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