Bangkok’s most iconic site is a massive palace complex that served as the royal residence until 1925. Of its many buildings, the one with the most architectural interest is Chakri Mahaprasat. It was designed in 1882 by British architects, in a style that could be described as traditional Thai meets Italian Renaissance. Nearby is the 1784 Wat Phra Kaeo, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist place of worship. Go inside to see the Emerald Buddha, carved not of emerald but of semiprecious green stone, robed in gold and just 66 centimeters (26 inches) high.
Experience the Majesty of the Royal City
Thailand’s revered monarchy is key to the country’s identity, and Bangkok’s royal sights are befitting of the institution’s status. The obvious place to start is at the Grand Palace. Located on Rattanakosin Island – the original fortified center of Bangkok when it was founded in 1782 – the sprawling walled complex has evolved organically through a number of reigns with numerous buildings, halls, temples and pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. Another essential regal attraction is Dusit Palace Park. Conceived by King Rama V after his first European tour in 1897, the palaces and halls here are a unique mélange of Thai and European architectural styles.
A Grand Grand Palace
No trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to the Grand Palace, which rests elegantly in the middle of the city on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. From the outside walls to the inside decor, the palace is positively dripping with vibrant colors and incredible architectural detail. The intricacy of the craftsmanship on each of these buildings is absolutely amazing. You can spend an entire day exploring the 2.3 million square foot complex. From the pavilions, gardens and courtyards to the statues and iconic heads that adorn almost every surface, it’s a photographer’s dream—and that’s not even counting the people-watching! The next time you swing through Bangkok, look for the shimmering gold city within the city, and you will discover a Grand Palace indeed.
Once inside the Grand Palace in Bangkok, you have numerous places to visit. The photo above is in the Wat Pho area of the palace grounds. There are over 1000 images of Buddha located here, and it’s also said to be the birthplace of Thai massage.
There Are Palaces and Then There's the Grand Palace
Bangkok’s Grand Palace is on every tourist’s to-do list. And it should be. A visit to any country’s royal complex shows off the best and most elaborate art and architecture—the stuff the country is truly proud of. At the Grand Palace, golden roofs gleem at every turn and exquisite statues look you in the eye. The grandest building is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, however, the Buddha is actually jadeite.
Life is Grand in Bangkok
If you’re spending time in Bangkok, the Grand Palace is an absolute. This collection of buildings in the heart of the city will wow you in scale, passion, and color. Until 1925 this was the official residence of the king and while the present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, lives at the Chitralada Palace, he’ll still use the Grand Palace for official annual events. On the grounds, you’ll notice the Royal Grand Palace and the exceptional Emerald Buddha (while visiting the Wat Phra Kaew/Royal Chapel). It is incredibly uplifting and extremely warm, while you’re in the complex. Enjoy a day exploring the palace but be sure to hydrate and wear sunscreen.
Giant Shiny Things
When I first entered the Grand Palace area, I had to stop and take quite a few moments. There were so many shiny things and so much to take in it was overwhelming!
Traveling on GEEO’s Thailand/Laos/Cambodia teacher travel program, our adventures began in Bangkok. One of the first places we visited was the Grand Palace. It’s not actually a single palace but a large complex of halls, pavilions and temples. The colors were amazing, golds, vibrant emerald greens and red. Inside the grounds of the Grand Palace is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which is considered one of Thailand’s most sacred sites. Visitors should be aware that there is a dress code for visiting the Grand Palace. No bare shoulders and covered down to the knees. There is a place at the entrance where visitors can borrow/rent sarongs if they’re caught unprepared.
Grand Palace, Thailand
All the gold covering the Grand Palace in Bangkok can be blinding! To appreciate the opulence, sometimes you need something less shiny for comparison. This buddha seems to do the trick.
The Must See: The Grand Palace in Bangkok
Even if you’re in BKK for just a day, do yourself a favor and ferry over to the Grand Palace. The staggering amount of handwork in the thousands golden, ceramic, and mirrored tiles that cover this incredible complex make the palace the most photo-worthy monument in the city. Near the Palace, you’ll find loads of little shops and restaurants serving noodles, sweets, fresh fruit and other snacks. Be wary of peddlers and scam artists-- there are signs everywhere advising tourists from engaging with local hucksters surrounding the area. (As a solo female traveler-- I had no problem-- just be smart!) Admission: about 15.00 USD