Bangkok’s top historic and tourism attraction, the Grand Palace is one destination few visitors pass up the chance of seeing. This fabulous collection of buildings, pavilions, stupas and monuments dates from the latter years of the 18th century and is also home to the nation’s beloved Emerald Buddha statue. Although the palace is the official residence of the Thai royal family, they mostly live at the city’s Dusit Palace.
King Rama I oversaw the construction of the Grand Palace when the Thai capital moved across the Chao Phraya River from Thonburi to Bangkok. It remained the home of the Chakri Dynasty kings until the reign of King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn). The Grand Palace remains a majestic testament to the styles of royal structures prevalent when it was built.
The exterior walls of the Grand Palace are around two kilometres long. The complex occupies a good-sized part of Rattanakosin Island and the public entry is on Naphralan Road. The main palace building is palatial indeed. Even the inner reception hall does not disappoint and is an outstanding example of olden European chateaus and the like.
The Amarinda Hall was King Rama I’s initial residence and contains the original Chakri throne. Other royal highlights are the Boromabiman Hall and the amazing artefacts housed in the Grand Palace Museum. Wat Phra Kaew is a classic example of an ornate Thai temple and is where the Emerald Buddha statue resides (Phra Kaew is Emerald Buddha in English).
Apart from when special events are scheduled, the Bangkok Grand Palace is open daily between the hours of 08:30 and 15:30. Guided tours provide the most illuminating insights to the palace. Dress codes apply and females are required to wear garments that cover the shoulders and the knees while males need to don long trousers and a minimum of a T-shirt. Palace officials are stringent about these codes, but clothes are available for hire in case you forget.