Out of all the sites of interest around Bangkok, which one should we see first? This was the question we asked ourselves the moment we arrived in Bangkok. Well, the Grand Palace was the obvious answer, as it is the face of Thailand and would be a real introduction to Thai history.
The Grand Palace is stunning! Incredibly stunning and it is outrageously grand. It is a wonderful place to visit. During our tour, we spent plenty of time leisurely wandering around its courtyard, walked away with some knowledge, slowly admired their architectural marvels and at the same time, we captured so many photos.
When we arrived at the gate of the Palace, it was filled wall-to-wall with tourists hustling left and right, excited to get into the official residence of the Kings of Thailand. Judging from their faces and accents, it seemed that half of the population of mainland Japan, Korea and China was there with us. In spite of it being crowded and hot, a trip to Bangkok would not be complete without visiting the city’s most popular landmark.
King Rama I started the construction of the Grand Palace in 1782 with a combined area of 218,400 square meters. It is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. It has four major parts which are separated by numerous walls and gates: the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Outer Court, the Middle Court, and the Inner Court.
I like the Grand palace because everything is so fabulous. The history is amazing. I like the majestic beauty of Thai architecture. The intricate hand-made artworks are all mind-blowing. It is unique and shiny. The elephant gates and the pairs of demon guards at the gates are fantastic. I was fascinated to see the collections of old weapons. I adored all the details of the Grand Palace and I also liked when the blazing sun hits the shimmering collections of golden temples. I was overwhelmed at the end of our visit.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is one of the astonishing structures inside the Palace which houses The Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand’s most significant and sacred relics. According to the legend, a Buddha statue made of stucco was found after a lightning struck a Chedi in Chiangrai province in 1434 A.D. As time passed by, a monk noticed that the stucco had flaked off and the Buddha was a green color. The monk removed the stucco covering and found the Emerald, hence the name Emerald Buddha even though it was entirely carved out from green jade. The Emerald Buddha, which dates back to the 15th century is just magnificent. It is about 30 inches tall. It is so holy because only the King can touch it. The King changes the robe of the Emerald Buddha three times a year which corresponds with the three seasons (summer, rainy and winter).
Tips in Visiting the Palace:
1. Opening hours: 8.30am to 3.30pm. If you go there early you might dodge the crowds.
2. The entrance fee for foreigners is 500 baht. Bring enough baht since the Grand Palace only accepts cash.
3. The Palace conforms to strict dress code. In other words, dress up decently and modestly. No short pants, no sleeveless, no see-through and no slippers. If you don’t, the Grand Palace will not let you in or you can rent soft trousers and skirts for 200 baht.
4. Charge your camera.
5. Beware of the scammers outside the Palace, especially when the tuktuk drivers offer ridiculously cheap price. Have a good look on the net for the current tuktuk prices, if you wish to get a realistic idea about what’s going on.
What else can I say? Apart from the fact that The Grand Palace is really an absolute eye candy and it is worth a visit when going to Thailand, as it makes you feel closer to Thai people.