July 30, 2012

Sawadee Ka Bangkok! : Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

People say, What's a trip to Bangkok if you don't go visit the Grand Palace. Well I guess the Grand Palace to Bangkok is the same as the Petronas Twin Tower to Kuala Lumpur. Your trip is not complete if you miss that attraction.

So, the very next morning after I arrived in Bangkok, I was standing in front of the palace's entrance already. Walking from my hostel in Khaosan only took around 10 minutes.

This Grand Palace complex is huge. You will be walking almost 2km if you walk around those four walls surrounding the palace compound.

ticket office

Entrance fee is 400 Baht per person and it includes the entrance to The Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coins and also the Vivanmek Mansion. 

Do note that you have to dress conservatively to enter the complex. No shorts, short skirts, sleeveless. If not, you will have to rent a sarong once you pass the main entrance. It is free but you have to put a deposit of 200 Baht, plus you'd have to walk all the way back to the entrance to return it. Leceh right?

The palace complex consists of several buildings, halls, pavilions, gardens and courtyards. Not all areas can be entered though, and visitors usually thronged Wat Phra Kaew, which occupies one corner of the huge complex.

This was what I saw the moment I walked past the entrance.

Woahhh...what giant is this?!

The gate of the Wat Phra Kaew is guarded by a pair of gigantic mythical giants, called Thotkhirithon.

Just a few steps forward, I stood completely still on the path, transfixed. This was what I saw...

Wat Phra Kaew

Oh my... everything was so beautiful!

The main attraction here is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

It houses the important sacred image, the Emerald Buddha.

An interesting fact to share is that the Emerald Buddha has three costumes, one for each season: the crown and jewelries during summer, a gilt monastic robe for the rainy months and a full length gold shawl to wrap up for winter. The Thai King himself will ceremonially change the costume, an important ritual performed to usher good fortune to the country during each season.

Outside the hall you can see a lot of people dipping flowers into the holy water and then sprinkle the water onto their heads. This is said to bring good luck. 

pillars around the temple

The upper terrace runs parallel to the left of the temple. Four main monuments are found on this terrace.

You can't miss to spot this golden stupa, Phra Si Ratana Chedi.

It is built in Sri Lankan style and said to enshrine ashes of the Buddha.

In the middle of the terrace, you will see Phra Mondop, the library which houses the Buddhist manuscripts. This library is famous for the mother-of-pearl cabinet and solid-silver mats inside. Unfortunately it is closed for the public.

There's also a scale model of Angkor Wat here, a memorial of the reign of Siam over Cambodia for many hundred years until the colonization of Kingdom of Cambodia by France.  

At the end of the terrace you will find the Royal Pantheon or Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn. 

Statues of past sovereigns of the ruling Chakri dynasty are enshrined here. It is also closed to the public. The building is open only on special occasions, such as Chakri Day, when the dynasty is commemorated.

golden Chedi beside the Royal Pantheon with demon supporting it

I am not a demon!

Scattered around the terrace are statues of elephants and mythical beings.

Other monuments surrounding the area...

Phra Wiharn Yod - a beautiful building which houses a number of Buddha images

One of the Eight Chedis dedicated to certain Buddhist concepts

Moving out from Wat Phra Kaew, you will see the Chakri Maha Prasad. 

the Royal Guard

This stunning Renaissance-Thai style palace is where the throne room was, and the place to welcome foreign dignitaries.

Neighboring the Chakri group is the Dusit group of buildings. This group consists of the Dusit Maha Prasat Hall and the beautiful Amphorn Phimok Prasat Pavilion.

 Amphorn Phimok Prasat

I was amazed in each architectural designs of the stuctures inside the Grand Palace. And not to forget, everything was gleaming in gold! It just adds more beauty to the already beautiful Thai patterns.

I guess what people say is true. Your trip is not complete if you miss this place. 

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew is open daily.
Visiting hours are from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm.
Entrance fee is 400 Baht.
Direction: Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat and alight at Tha Chang (N9)


Christopher Clancy said...

It is a beautiful temple but the price keeps going up every few months. 400 baht entrance fee now is too expensive.

rara said...

yeah.. i think it's a little bit expensive too! i guess because they're doing the renovation now..

Lavanduleae said...

superb Thailand... where can i get this in Malaysia..?