The Grand Palace
Na Phra Lan Rd., near Sanam Luang/Open daily 8:30am-4pm/proper attire required
As the King has moved his residence to Chitrlada Palace in northern Bangkok, the Grand Palace, built in 1882, is now only used for major ceremonies or Royal functions. Its exterior, an interesting blend of Thai and European architecture, is worth a look and there are a couple of staterooms and halls that are open to visitors. These include the Amarin Vinitchai Throne Hall, where the King still delivers his birthday speech, and a small weapons museum. The Grand Palace, known as Pra Borom Maharatchawong in Thai, is located adjacent to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. We advise you to book a guide.
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
Na Phra Lan Rd., near Sanam Luang/Open daily 08:30-15:30
The home to Thailand's most sacred relic-the Emerald Buddha-and the country's most stunning temple, Wat Phra Kaew, was completed two years after the capital was moved from Thonburi to Rattanakosin in 1784 and forms the northeastern corner of the Grand Palace complex. The Emerald Buddha was discovered in 1434 when lightning is said to have struck a chedi in Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand. It was originally covered in stucco which peeled off over time to reveal the stone beneath. Since then it was moved around northern Thailand by a succession of Thai Kings before being taken by the Lao and placed in Vientiane. Rama I retook the statue in 1779 and brought it back to Thailand where he placed it at the centre of his new capital. It is the most sacred Buddha image in Thailand, and hundreds pay their respects to it every day. The 945,000 sq.m. grounds encompass over 100 buildings that represent 200 years of royal history. Apart from the amazing architecture, gilded statues and the majesty of the temple, Wat Phra Kaew also features excellent examples of mural art, documenting both the lifeand travels of the Buddha and scenes from the Ramakien, the Thai version of the Ramayana epic.
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Chetuphon/Thaiwong Rd/Open daily 08:00-noon, 13:00-17:00
The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is the oldest and largest wat in Bangkok, originating in the 16th century before being rebuilt by Rama I. It also houses the largest reclining Buddha statue in the land as well as the greatest number of Buddha images. It is also the centre for traditional Thai medicine and a learning centre for Thai massage where you can either receive or learn how to administer this ancient healing art. The 45-metre-long reclining Buddha statue depicts the Buddha entering nirvana and is impressive both for its size and the mother-of-pearl detail on the soles of the feet which reveal the 108 auspicious signs of a genuine Buddha.
Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn)
34 Arun Amarin Rd, western bank of the Chao Phraya River/Open daily 08:00-17:00
Across the river from Wat Pho is Wat Arun or Temple of the Dawn, one of the city's best-loved landmarks and an important religious sight in its own right. Before being moved to Wat Phra Kaew, the Emerald Buddha was temporarily housed here by Rama I where there had been a temple since the Ayutthaya period. The five-towered structure is covered almost entirely in pieces of colourful porcelain and designed as a representation of Mount Mehru, the Khmer home of the gods. The temple is believed to have been named by Rama I on his first sunrise visit, but in contrast with its name, it is best visited at dusk when the setting sun forms a stunning backdrop.
Rajadamri Rd, near Erawan Bangkok/Open daily 06:30-22:30
Apart from the many temples across the city, there are a far greater number of small shrines where Thais pay their respects to various deities and spirits. Don't expect serenity here. This is one of Bangkok's busiest intersections: the overcrowded, flashy shrine to the Hindu creation god Brahma and his elephant Erawan is filled with worshippers lighting incense, buying lottery tickets and watching the traditional dancing group which performs for a fee.
Jim Thompson's House
6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama I Rd/Open daily 09:00-17:00
American businessman Jim Thompson was largely responsible for the worldwide popularity of Thai silk. His love for Thai craft and culture however was not purely directed toward silk and his house is a testament to his commitment to maintaining and celebrating Thai art and culture. His fame has spread due to his mysterious disappearance in Malaysia in 1967 when he went out for a walk and never returned, inspiring conspirational myths and legends. The Jim Thompson complex houses six traditional teak houses from around the country, each tastefully decorated with art pieces and antiques from around Southeast Asia. There's also a shop selling his trademark silk designs and a small caf?
Suan Pakkard Palace
Sri Ayutthaya Rd, Rajatavee/Open daily 09:00-16:00
A former market garden, this was converted into a residence and garden by Princess Chumbot of Nakhon Sawan. Consisting of five reconstructed Thai wooden houses, Suan Pakkard Palace pays testament to her dedication to collecting Thai artefacts and antiques. Of note are the examples of Buddhist and Hindu art, the ceramics from old Ban Chiang and the delightful lacquer pavilion which depicts scenes from the Buddha's life and the Ramayana.
King Mongkut Hospital, 315 Rajawithi Rd/Open Mon-Fri 08:30-16:30
Built in 1909, Phaya Thai Palace was a country cottage to which Rama V could escape on the weekends. It housed a radio station, before the whole place was turned into a hospital. The only structure remaining is the Thewaratsaparom Throne Hall, a stunning glass-and-wood building that was mostly used as a theatre. The rooms inside are built and decorated in western styles, complete with French doors, a grand staircase, a fireplace and an elaborately carved ceiling. Since the palace is on hospital grounds, the banyan trees next to the building are used for shade by the staff, but the palace's interior is open to visitors. This is a quiet, secluded place for a breather.
Tour Desk Independently Operated
For day tour information and reservation, please contact World Travel Service located in the lobby and mezzanine area
Open daily 06:30-21:30
World Travel Service's most popular excursions
- Bangkok-Floating Market-River Kwai-Bangkok Whole day tour including lunch THB 1,750
- Bangkok-Floating Market-Rose Garden-Bangkok Whole day tour including lunch THB 1,830
- Pattaya Whole day tour including lunch THB 2,160 (minimum 4 persons)
- Grand Palace Half day tour THB 1,180
- Bangkok-Tiger Temple-River Kwai-Bangkok Whole day tour including lunch THB 2,900