Welcome to Bangkok
To the temples
The Grand Palace
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
Inside the Grand Palace is the majestic Wat Phra Keaw. This is where the famous Emerald Buddha statue is located. This temple is considered as the most revered structure in Thailand because of the iconic image. What’s fascinating about the Emerald Buddha is that it was carved from a slab of jade. According to legends, the statue brings prosperity to each country in which it is located, thus making the people venerate it. The Emerald Buddha is dressed in gold costumes 3 times a year depending on the season. Visitors are also not allowed to take photos inside as a sign of respect.
The spires of Wat Phra Kaew are covered in gold materials that reflects sunlight every time you stare at it.
The Exterior carvings are so detailed that each figures have different expressions. Each one dressed in colorful plating of stones, glass, and other intricate ornaments.
The Chapel of the Emerald Buddha or Phra Ubosoth is another structure built by King Rama I. It is the venue of ordination by Buddhist monks and is one of the sacred places inside the Grand Palace.
Jutting away from the corners of the rooftops are Nagas. These are legendary snake-like creatures which are oftentimes mentioned in Buddhist mythology but has roots from early Hinduism. If you get a chance to see more Buddhist temples in Asia, you will notice these ornate figures depicted as protectors of Buddha.
For each gates of the complex, 12 giant guardians stand tall to protect the place, mostly facing Wat Phra Kaew. They may look scary but the beautifully crafted designs and its colossal stature will make you admire these sentinels.
Another feature inside the Grand Palace is the belfry. This beautifully crafted structure is hard to miss because of its colorful porcelain mosaics. The original bell tower built by King Rama I during the 18th Century no longer remains. It has been replaced by the current structure during the rule of King Rama IV.
Chakri Maha Prasat
Before exiting, people will be lead to one of the grandest structures in the palace called Chakri Maha Prasat. Built by English Architect John Clunich in 1876, this architectural wonder has a fusion of both Western and Thai designs.
The Grand Palace is just too huge! What I showed was just a portion of this amazing place. I couldn’t believe It was just the first day of my solo backpacking trip and it was already worthwhile.
It is hard to miss this historical site. Most of the visitors will definitely mention the Grand Palace whenever you’ll ask which place to go to in Bangkok. With its intricate architecture, well-decorated structures and colossal statues that are shrouded by legends, the Grand Palace complex is definitely a must see.
*Sources: Guide to the Grand Palace tourist map available in the ticketing area and several tour guides I spoke with during the trip.
There is a strict dress code policy inside the temples:
- For men: Long pants and sleeved shirts are to be worn. No sleeveless or tank tops allowed.
- If you’re wearing sandals, you should wear socks as well.
- For women: See-through clothes and off-shoulder dresses are prohibited.
- Short shorts are also not allowed.
- If you dress up as per above, there is a booth in the facade where you can cover up.
How to get there:
- From Suvarnabhumi Airport, go to the basement where the train station is located. Buy a token (30Baht) and head to Phaya Thai station. You can then get a taxi to drive you to the Grand Palace. (Always check if the driver is using a taxi meter.)
- If you’re coming from the other side of the city, you can take a boat ride to cross Chao Phraya river for 4 Baht. Take the ones bound to Tha Chank Wang Luang Pier.
Where to stay:
I booked a hotel reservation at the Royal Tha Tien Village. It’s just 5 to 10 minutes away from the temples and is an ideal place to stay when exploring Bangkok. Please contact them or visit www.agoda.com for some good deals: