You can visit Thailand’s Grand Palace and learn more about the history of Siam
A country with a long and proud history, Thailand was the only country in Southeast Asia to successfully resist colonial empires (although it lost parts of its territory). The country’s long and glorious history is evident in some of the country’s great monumental landmarks, such as the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
If you had to choose only one historical building complex in Bangkok, it would be the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace should certainly be high on the list of things to see and do in Bangkok with just two days.
The impressive history of the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace was built in 1782 by Thai King Rama I (he was the founder of the Chakri Dynasty). He moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. The king wanted a new capital for his new dynasty (which is still the current ruling dynasty of Thailand today). The current King of Thailand is Vajiralongkorn (also Rama X as he is the tenth monarch of the dynasty). He was crowned in the Grand Palace complex.
The palace was subsequently expanded over the years, with more buildings and structures being added. At that time the kingdom was called Siam. It remained the residence of the kings of Siam (later Thailand) until 1925.
The complex was not only the seat of the king with royal and throne rooms, but also a number of government offices and a large temple.
Today, the Grand Palace is no longer the official seat of government (nor is it the home of the current King of Thailand). This means that it is now (partially) open to the public and anyone can visit. The palace is still used for some official events, royal ceremonies and state events.
Thailand has a fascinating history, enhanced by the fact that it’s the only country to have defied European domination. One of the most entertaining events in Thai history was King Mongkut’s offer to give America a pair of elephants in 1861. It was an offer of friendship in support of the Union’s fight against slavery. It was one of Abraham Lincoln’s few good days during the dark days of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln very politely declined the offer.
The enormous size of the Grand Palace Complex
The Grand Palace is located in the heart of Bangkok city. It offers an insight into the history and culture of Thailand/Siam.
The palace is huge, covering approximately 2,351,000 square feet and surrounded by four walls. It is 1,900 meters long. It is a complex of several buildings, halls and pavilions with courtyards, gardens and lawns. There are too many buildings, courtyards and more to go into detail here.
- Building: Around 100 buildings
- Thai name: พระบรมมหาราชวัง – Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang
The palace complex is divided into two main zones – the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Royal Residence. The royal residence is divided into three categories:
- The outer courtyard
- The Middle Court
- The courtyard
Most of the architecture, both royal and sacred, is classified as Ratanakosin (Old Bangkok style).
Plan a visit to the Grand Palace
Today it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. A number of buildings are open to the public, but there are some closed parts that are still used as royal offices. Find out more about visiting the palace on the Grand Palace official website.
Thai nationals can visit the Grand Palace for free, but there is an entrance fee for foreigners (who can also buy the tickets online). The admission ticket includes access to Wat Phra Kaew and the Queen Sirikit Textile Museum on the grounds of the Grand Palace.
- Opening hours: Daily from 8.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m
- Admission fee: 500 baht ($13.20) for foreigners
As tourists visit (or will likely visit) a temple on site, it’s important to dress according to the strict dress code. Sleeveless shirts, vests, crop tops, sheer tops, shorts, ripped pants, or miniskirts should not be worn when entering temples in Thailand.
Those not appropriately dressed will be given a sarong before being allowed to enter the complex. Shoes are not that important – shoes must be removed when entering temples and holy sites anyway.
Visitors should allow between 2 and 3 hours to tour the old palace.