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The Grand Palace
Located right in the centre of Bangkok, this building complex has officially been the residence of Siam kings since 1782. Still being used for official events, Grand Palace is amongst Thailand’s most well-known tourist attractions.
The combined area of Grand Palace is that of 218,400 sqm. It shares its boundaries with Sanam Luang, Maharaj Road, Thai Wang Road and Sanamchai Road. Grand Palace is not a single structure but is rather a collection of numerous buildings, pavilions, halls, gardens and courtyards. The palace is sectioned into various quarters namely the Outer Court, the Middle Court and the Inner Court.
The Grand Palace is the most popular landmark in the Thai capital and there are more than enough reasons for that. There are several palatial buildings within the complex. The Wat Phra Kaew is one of the most significant and highly revered structures in the palace. It literally means Temple of the Emerald Buddha and was constructed in 14th century. The Royal Reception Halls of the Grand Palace are used for coronations and other important ceremonial occasions. Chakri Maha Prasat or the Grand Palace Hall embraces the tourists first. The Dusit Hall is rated to be the finest among all buildings that had been constructed with the same style of architecture.
There are a total of over 30 landmark structure in The Grand Palace. Take a look at the map above. The area for building #13, #14 and #15 are the restricted area. You can only view them from far. A booklet with the same map will be provided to you after your ticket is verified.
There is only one entrance to The Grand Palace. The moment you enter the area, you’ll see a big open space. This is a gathering area and nothing much to see. Entering to this area is not chargeable unless you want to visit the inner area.
You are required to dress appropriately as you are about to enter a holy place, Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In case if you wear shorts, tight fitting trousers, sleeveless shirts, sandals or whatever that is deemed inappropriate, you will be prohibited to enter the paid area. To gain access to the inner area, you may hire a robe that is refundable in part or in full.
Walk pass the field and go further in and you’ll see a ticketing counter. With effect of 1st January, 2013, the entrance fee has been increased to 500 baht for foreigners (Thai citizens get free access). At this price, you’ll get a few tickets that allow you to gain access to several museums and halls that include the Pavilion of Regalia, Vimanmek Mansion Museum, Support Museum Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall, Sanam Chandra Palace and Arts of the Kingdom Exhibition.
After going through the entrance door, you’ll find yourself in the Outer Court (labelled #1-#12 in map) surrounded by temples. One of the most significant temples of Thailand, the Temple of Emerald Buddha is located here. We cover this area in details separately in the Wat Phra Kaew page.
Labelled as #16, #17 and #18 in the map, the Chakraphat Phiman Hall, the Audience Hall of Amarindra Winitchai and the Praisal Taksin Hall make up the Phra Maha Monthian group of buildings.
The Audience Hall, built in 1785, is used for state ceremonies. Coronation ceremony are held in the Paisal Taksin Hall. After the coronation, the sovereign will spend at least one night in the Chakraphat Phiman building to signify the taking up of official residence.
Completed in 1882, the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall (#26 in the map) is one of the grandest of all buildings in the Grand Palace. The building comprises the Central Throne Hall and the 2 wings.
The walls of the Central Throne Hall have 4 canvasses depicting diplomatic receptions of the past. It now serves as the reception of foreign ambassadors. The left and the right wall have a painting of King Mongkut’s reception of the British envoy and Queen Victoria’s reception of the ambassador respectively.
Labelled as #30 and #31 in map, the Dusit Group comprises the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall and the Amphorn Phimok Pavilion. The Dusit hall was built to replace the wooden Amarintharapisek Maha Prasat when it was burned down in 1790.
The height and dimensions of this building is the same as the Suriyamarin Throne Hall in Ayutthaya, where the lying-in-state was a tradition for the successive Ayutthaya Kings. This tradition continues until today. Dusit Maha Prasat Hall is currently used for lying-in-state of kings, queens and honoured members of the royal family and for annual Coronation Day Ceremony.