The Grand Palace
The palace, as the name suggests, is truly grand with superb architecture. This is a must-see location for tourists and missing it will leave your Thailand visit incomplete.
This palace used to be the seat of power of the Thai Royal family. At present, the Royal family resides at Chitralada Palace and the Grand Palace is being used only for ceremonial purposes.
King Rama V built many of the main buildings in the Palace compound. Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat was built as his royal residence in 1877. It still stands tall displaying its architectural beauty. The Central Throne Hall of this palace was earlier used to receive foreign dignitaries. The reception area is adorned with numerous portraits. On the second floor, the central room displays the urns containing the ashes of Kings Rama IV, Rama V, Rama VI, Rama VII and Rama VIII.
Borom Phiman Mansion was also built during King Rama V’s reign. When his son King Rama VI became king, he renovated the palace and used it as his residence. The three successive kings also stayed here.
Maha Monthien Prasat has the Audience Hall of Amarin Winitchai. Here ceremonies take place, which is staged in front of the throne. A nine-layered white umbrella-like structure above the throne is the highlight of the place.
Siwalai Gardens was used earlier to host receptions. It was also used for recreational purposes by the women and children of the royal family. At present, the Royal Household Bureau is located here.
How to reach: Though there are other options, the best is to catch the Skytrain to Taksin station and take the Chao Phraya River Express boat to Tha Chang Wang Luang Pier. From the pier, it is walking distance to the palace entrance.
Timings: Daily from 8.30am to 3.30pm, except when royal ceremonies are scheduled there.
Admission Fee: 250 baht, which is inclusive of admission to Wat Phra Kaeo, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion located in the same compound and to Vimanmek Mansion Museum on Ratchawithi Road. An additional baht will get you a personal audio guide on rent in any of these languages – English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese or Mandarin.
Dress Code: Visitors are requested to adhere to the below listed dos and don’ts, while visiting the palace.
1. Shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, tight fitting trousers, tights, sleeveless shirts or vests cannot be worn as outer garments.
2. See-through shirts, blouses, sweatshirts, sweat pants, windcheaters, pajamas, culottes, fisherman trousers or quarter length trousers cannot be worn.
3. Shirtsleeves, whether long or short, cannot be rolled up.
4. Sandals (without ankle or heel straps) cannot be worn.
Telephone: 0 2623 5500 ext.3100, 0 2224 3273
Web site: www.palaces.thai.net
Vimanmek Palace (Vimanmek Mansion)
King Rama V, after his European trip in 1897, spent his personal money to purchase land between Samsen Canal and Padung Krungkasem Canal to set up a royal garden, which he named as Dusit Garden. Vimanmek Palace was the first permanent royal residence built in Dusit Garden.
The palace was built by dismantling the Munthaturattanaroj Residence in Chuthathujrachathan at Koh Sri Chang, Chonburi. HRH Prince Narissaranuwaddhiwongse supervised the construction of the palace. The palace was completed in 1900 and the celebration to mark the completion was held on March 27, 1901. King Rama V moved his residence to Vimanmek Palace from the Grand Palace for the next five years, until the Amporn Satan Residence was completed in 1906. He stayed there until his death in 1910. After this, Vimanmek Palace was shut down and the royal family moved back to the Grand Palace.
King Rama VI (1910-1925) allowed Her Majesty Indharasaksaji to use Vimanmek Mansion as her residence. However, after the King’s death, she shifted to another residence in Suan Hong compound and the Mansion was shut down.
King Rama VII (1925-1934) renovated and modernized the Mansion several times during his reign. However, from 1932 onwards, the Mansion is being used as a storage facility of the Bureau of the Royal Household.
On the Bicentennial of Bangkok’s formation in 1982, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit initiated efforts to renovate the mansion and use it as a museum in memory of King Rama V. HM the King’s personal photographs, art and handicraft collections are displayed there and serves as a reminder of Thailand’s national heritage.
Vimanmek Mansion, with its beautiful woodwork, was built with a strong influence of Western architecture. It is the largest golden teakwood mansion in the world. The mansion has three floors, except for the portion where King Rama V lived. This part is octagonal in shape and has four floors. The ground floor is constructed with cement and bricks. The rest of the floors are built in golden teakwood.
At present, the mansion has 31 exhibition rooms, with some displaying antique ceramics, silverware, crystal ware and ivory artifacts. The rooms in the mansion, including throne room, bedrooms and bathrooms, retain their Thai-flavor, which attracts visitors.
Besides Vimanmek Mansion and Amporn Satan Residence or Dusit Palace, King Rama V apportioned parts of Dusit garden to his consort, other wives and princesses for building residences. These residences are now exhibition centers, with one dedicated to royal coaches.
King Rama VI used the pavilion in the Sompoy Field for his literary pursuits and named it Chitraladarahotarn Palace. King Rama VII passed orders for its annexure to the Dusit Palace. At present, it is the residence of Their Majesties King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit.
Royal Chitralada Projects: HM the King started these demonstration projects for the benefit of the people of Thailand. These non-profit endeavors located inside the palace grounds are agriculture-based like rice growing, rice milling and dairy farming.
Chitralada School: This school was built within the palace grounds for the education of princes and princesses. Gradually, children of palace staff were admitted here. Now it is open to all. It has classes from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Dusitalai Pavilion: This multi-purpose hall is used by HM the King to grant audience.
SUPPORT Foundation: This is an art and craft school and an exhibition center. It has a good collection of handicrafts from all over the country. The exhibits include Lipao basketry, silk weaving, gold, silver and lacquerware.
Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall
This building is a fine example of Italian Renaissance and Neo Classic style of architecture. Marble imported from Carrara, Italy were used for exteriors. The Hall is a two-storied marble construction with a large dome in the center surrounded by six smaller domes. The construction of the Hall was completed in 1915 at an expense of a staggering 15 million baht.
The inside of the Hall is adorned with historical paintings of the past kings of Thai royal family. The dome has paintings by Mr. C. Riguli and Prof. G. Chini, showing the history of Chakri dynasty from first to sixth reign. The walls of the Hall are decorated with the Royal Monograms of HM King Vajiravudh, paintings of the Garuda, the Naga , the Erawan and that of many Thai and European children. The balcony of the central dome has modern paintings of European women holding flower garlands.
Near the dome to the north of the main hall, there is a grand painting of King Rama I or Phrabhudhayodfachulalok, returning from the battle and state officials offering him the throne. Close to the east dome, there is a painting of King Rama II seated on his palanquin touring the city. The central dome has the Royal initial of His Majesty King Chulalongkorn inscribed on it.
After the monarchy changed from Absolute to Constitutional in 1932, the Throne Hall was used for hosting many official functions and meetings of Members of Parliament.
Suan Pakkad Palace
This palace was originally the residence of Prince Chumbhotpong Paripatra and his wife. In 1952, they converted it into a museum displaying Thai antiques including 4,000 years old Ban Chiang pottery. The palace is a group of four houses with roofed passageways connecting them. The palace is built in traditional Thai architecture with beautiful gardens surrounding it.
This Thai-style building is two-storied with the ground floor mostly open and the first floor used as living quarters. Passageways connect even the second floors of the four houses, which makes it easy to commute between them.
The houses surround the garden in a semi-circular shape. The garden has a Japanese touch to it. Some of the images and arts in the front garden are from the 7th century. The museum has many royal household articles like clothing, containers, fans and betel nut boxes.
Some of the archeological discoveries from Ban Chieng, Benjarong pottery, Thai ceramics and a collection of rocks and shells are displayed here. An air-conditioned building displays the Khon masks used in Thai classical dance based on the stories from Ramakien.
The 200-year old ‘Lacquer Pavilion’ stands at the end of the garden. It used to be located near Chao Phraya River in Ayutthaya and moved to this location by late Prince Chumbhot. The pavilion has a room within a room. The corridor leading to the inner room is lined with intricate gilded woodcarvings. The inner room is done entirely in black lacquer and gold. While entering the Pavilion, the visitors should remove their footwear.
The Royal Barge that used to transport royal members, is kept next to the Lacquer Pavilion. In the earlier days, the barge used to be stationed in a canal located in the gardens.
Wang Derm Palace
This palace was built for King Taksin, when he moved the capital from Ayutthaya to Thonburi. King Rama I, on ascending the throne, moved the capital to Pranakorn. He left the palace in the hands of a relative. Later King Rama V donated the palace to set up a school for naval education.
Throne Hall: This Thai-style brick construction has two inter-connected buildings. One on the north side is the Throne Hall and the south building is Pratinang Kwang, or the Transverse Building. The Throne Hall is now used as a venue for receptions and important ceremonies. The Transverse Building is used to receive important visitors and for organizing conferences.
Of the two Chinese-style buildings, the bigger one has frescoed gables. The smaller one is built in Chinese-style, but the doors and windows are made in Thai-style to suit the climate here.
The residence of HM King Pinklao is a western-styled building. It is believed that this is the first western-style building of the Rattanakosin period.
A shrine to King Taksin is situated to the north of the two Chinese buildings. This building is built in Thai style with strong western influence.