The Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha
Bangkok is home to some of Asia’s most important Buddhist temples. From the glorious Wat Phra Kaew within the grounds of the Grand Palace to the enigmatic beauty of the enormous Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, the city skyline is pierced with golden chedi spires.
One of the highlights of any Bangkok travel itinerary is a visit to Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the nearby Grand Palace.
A Bit of History
In 1782, King Rama I was crowned the first king of the Chakri Dynasty. He decided to move the capital across the Chao Phraya River to Bang Makawk (later known to foreign traders simply as Bangkok), a site of just four square kilometres (one and a half square miles) but blessed with greater natural defences against invaders. On the auspicious date of 6th May 1782, construction of a royal residence, throne halls and temples began. The area’s river defences were also further strengthened with the excavation of canals and the construction of thick walls to form Koh Ratanakosin, or Ratanakosin Island, the seat of royalty and government, and home to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the golden Mount, Sanam Luang park, and many more important cultural sites.
The Grand Palace is no longer a royal residence but is used for hosting royal ceremonies and welcoming state guests and foreign dignitaries. The Grand Palace is divided into two main zones, the former royal residence and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which houses a 70-cm Emerald Buddha. The figure holds great significance for the Thai people and is highly revered. The golden robe draped around the Buddha is changed three times a year by the King of Thailand. Golden chedis within the compound feature colourful, mythical demon guardians.
How to get to the Grand Palace
Take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station. Here you can hop on the Chao Phraya River Express boat to Tha Chang Wang Luang Pier (orange flagged boat and THB 15 baht). It is then a short walk from the pier to the entrance to The Grand Palace public entrance. Wat Pho is also nearby.
The Grand Palace is open daily from 8.30 a.m. – 3.30 p.m. Tickets are THB 500 and include the entry to Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.