When people think of Bangkok, the Grand Palace is one of the first places that springs to mind.
Built in 1782, the Grand Palace started as the official residence for the Kings of Siam, where the King, his court and the royal government were all based until circa 1925. But now The Grand Palace serves as a symbol of the nation’s sovereignty, attracting visitors from across the world to take a look, with the occasional hosting of state events.
The Grand Palace is somewhere I had wanted to see for a while, but always put off due to the vast crowds. But after 8 months of living in Bangkok and not seeing it, I decided that enough was enough and set off, ready to embrace the place that could attract such a crowd in the first place… And I was not disappointed.
It is beautiful.
As you approach the palace, the first thing you’ll notice is its beautiful architecture. It’s made up of numerous halls, pavilions and buildings, with most adorned by intricate carvings, colourful murals and gold leaf.
The Grand Palace is a feast for the eyes. Beautiful architecture is found in every direction, with each construction set off with the clearest of golds that shine as bright as the creativity and craftsmanship of those who designed it.
As you explore your way through the palace, you get a sense of the rich history of the country. The Grand Palace has been a centre for the power that has passed through for over 200 years, witnessing the rise and fall of those who held it—and it offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.
It’s also home to the temple of the Emerald Buddha, otherwise known as Wat Phra Kaew. The Buddha here is considered the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand and houses a small statue (66 centimetres!) of Buddha, carved from a single block of jade and dressed in gold and precious jewels.
The Grand Palace is a place of worship and respect, so if you’re thinking of going ensure that you are covered up. This applies to both men and women. The Grand Palace has a strict dress code and chests, shoulders and legs should be covered at all times. But don’t worry if you turn up unexpectedly and don’t have those things, there are stores nearby where you can rent trousers, skirts or shawls for as little as 30฿.
Overall, I’m glad I took the time to visit The Grand Palace. Its stunning architecture and beautiful art make a must-see for anybody visiting the area. But just a little advice if you do go—beware of scammers. Despite what the internet says, there aren’t actually that many. But The Grand Palace sees heavy foot traffic from tourists on a day-to-day basis, and as a result, it is a place where people are more prone to being taken advantage of.
The two main scams are usually some form of the following:
- Somebody tells you that the Palace is closed and offers to take you on a different tour instead.
This is not true and if in doubt walk into the grounds and check with the guards.
- Somebody approaches you and hands you food to feed the pigeons.
There’s a high chance after this they will try and charge you ฿300 for the food.
If you find yourself in a situation where you think you may be in the middle of, or about to be scammed, walk away and find somebody to assist you.
The Grand Palace can be found in the Phra Nakhon district, just along the banks of the Chao Phraya river and will cost ฿500 to enter. To book tickets click here.