It was a very hot day in Bangkok, hitting at 96 degrees and easily feeling like 115. The second, seriously the second you walk outside you will be sweating, especially if you visit in May, especially if you’re from Northern America, more specifically New York, where the hottest we see here is maybe 85 in July. Yeah, we weren’t used to this heat for our first full day. Right now as I’m typing this… it’s actually 61 degrees, what a difference. I have to say though, now that I’m back home. I do miss the heat. By the end of our 2 week adventure in Thailand, we were already ALMOST used to it.
Dave and I were only in Bangkok for one full day before we headed north to Chiang Mai. Knowing this, I purposely booked a hotel right by all the touristy sights so it would be easy to walk to them, including The Grand Palace. We stayed at the Navalai River Resort, and it was about a 15 minute walk to The Palace, along with other temples & sights along the way. We were actually pretty close to Khao San Road too.
Okay, now, how does one find The Grand Palace ? Well, it’s pretty easy if you have a smart phone and Google maps. If you search The Grand Palace it just comes right up. If you have your phone, but don’t have service, find wifi first, then you can map it, it will stay open on the map even if you don’t have wifi any longer. (I actually used to do this all the time when I’d visit Canada with no cell service. Maps still work surprisingly! ANYWAY….)
If you’re not in a walking mood, you can just grab a tuk-tuk or a taxi and tell them, The Grand Palace. Don’t let taxi drivers or tuk-tuk drivers tell you it’s closed, the Palace is open everyday from 8:30am to 3:30pm, and almost never closes. Some drivers will tell you this because they want to take you somewhere where they can make commission, like a jewelry shop. Just get up and get out of the taxi and find another one if this happens. Don’t get sweet talked into any nonsense ! This didn’t happen to us, but we heard a lot about these situations from others. Oh also, they will stand around the outside of The Palace, and try to tell you the same thing. Again, didn’t happen to us, but something to be forewarned about.
So, now you think you’ve arrived at The Palace, how do you know that you’ve made it? Well, The Palace is behind some very huge huge huge white walls and at the time we were there… there was only one entrance way inside for the public. First, you’ll find a pretty big white tent. In the tent you’ll see guards and metal detectors. (I don’t know if this a permanent thing or what, I mean, it didn’t seem that way but who knows)
Security will do a quick search of your bag and scan you down. Once the guards give you their approval and have checked your belongings, you’ll exit out to a long street filled with shops and food. This street leads up to the entrance way of The Palace. Just look for the swarms of people coming in and out. There will also be a couple of guards standing by the white walls and main entrance.
While you’re on this road, I highly recommend picking up bottled water before entering, you will be doing a lot of walking. (I actually didn’t follow this tip and was rushing to find water immediately after wandering around The Palace in the hot hot heat) Also, feel free to pick up some pants from a local vendor for 150 Baht because leggings, skirts, and even shorts for men are not allowed. I wore a long dress and a shirt that covered my shoulders so I was all set. Dave, wore modest clothing, but he needed pants that went down to his ankles. His shorts were not permitted. Not a problem though… because there was that vender right there that had pants for him to purchase. Talk about a way to make a lot of money from tourists who don’t read the rules, haha. But the guard that’s standing by the main entrance, will turn you away if you’re not dressed properly. Make sure you check the rules before going !
After the guard approves your clothing and allowing you to enter the main gate, you’ll walk into the main entrance way/outer courters. I was immediately blown away by the architecture of the complex colorful buildings, lawns and gardens. And little did I know this was only the beginning. I actually thought this was it. But as we ventured inward more you’ll find there’s even more beauty and many more temples to see.
Fun Fact: I found out that construction of these buildings began in 1782 and due to low funds everything was built from wood. The Grand Palace served as a significant royal residence until 1925 and is now used for ceremonial purposes only. Cool huh?
If you want venture inward more towards the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Phra Kaeo Morakot), which is Thailand’s most sacred site, you’ll have to pay a small fee of 500 Baht (about $15 USD). This will give you full access to that portion of the inner court. This is the area that you’ll see the most intricate buildings, gold gilded pillars and a series sculptured demonic guards that protect The Palace. Totally worth every penny & highly recommend.
It’s so easy to get lost in this place but it was too beautiful to care.
Now, enjoy some pics !
Dress properly upon entering the Grand Palace. Shirts that cover your shoulders. Pants/dresses that go down to your ankles
Although this is the year of mourning and you will see many residents wearing black, foreigners do not have to wear black but should wear conservative, respectful clothing
It’s easy to get wrapped up into taking loads of pictures, but put the camera down and just take in the scenery
Bring bottled water to sip on as you’re exploring
No pictures are allowed inside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, you can bring your camera inside just keep it to your side or around your neck
There are audio guides available if you would like to rent one to listen to while you’re exploring for 200 Baht. You can rent one at the Palace or check iTunes for a free guide
Free English tours are offered 4 times a day, ask at the ticket counter for further information