The Grand Palace is easily the most popular tourist attraction in Thailand. Tourists gather to see the ornate buildings and stunning temples. With its size and the large crowds it is easy to get overwhelmed or miss something. I wrote a quick guide to the Grand Palace for first-time visitors, so you can make the most out of your visit!
What is the Grand Palace?
The Grand Palace was home to the King of Thailand from 1782 to 1925. Though the Royal Family no longer lives there, many state events are still held in the complex. Parts of the complex are open to the public like the Outer Court and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, while the inner buildings are closed off.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is a stunning temple of beautiful gold statues and gilded walls surrounding Thailand’s most sacred Buddha sculpture. It’s a beautiful part of the complex and was my favorite.
The complex is huge and incredibly ornate. I couldn’t get over how detailed each and every bit of it is. The buildings are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Leave yourself plenty of time to explore every little corner of the complex and make sure there is room on your memory card for the hundreds of photos you are sure to take!
There are brochures you can pick up by the entrance that explain the significance of each structure and contain a map of the complex. You can also rent an audio guide for 200 Baht.
Where is the Grand Palace?
The Grand Palace is located in the historic center of Bangkok on the Chao Phraya River. The complex is surround by several other temples of interests, such as Wat Pho and Wat Arun.
Costs & Logistics
The temple costs 500 Baht for all foreigners to enter. Your ticket allows you entrance to all areas of the Palace that are open to visitors and to the Vimanmek Mansion Museum.
The temple is open from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM daily unless a royal event is taking place. It is best to get there early to beat the crowds. Most of the tour groups get there around 9AM and the complex starts to feel overcrowded by 10AM.
See Also: A Love Letter to Bangkok
How to get to there
If you are staying on Khao San Road, you can walk to the Grand Palace and save yourself a hefty tuk tuk or cab fee. It’s a short distance and is easy to navigate with Google maps. If you don’t feel like walking make sure that you negotiate the price of your tuk tuk and the driver agrees to no stops before going to the Palace. Even though it is a short distance, you probably won’t find anyone willing to take you for less than 150-200 Baht.
If you are coming from a different part of town you can take the BTS to the Saphan Taksin station. From there you can hop on the express water shuttle to Chang Pier and walk to the Grand Palace entrance.
Pro tip: If you want to take a taxi to the Grand Palace, make sure you get one that will run the meter. The rate that the taxi drivers usually quote tourists is almost 4 times the actual amount it would be with the meter on.
Important things to know
The Grand Palace has a pretty strict dress code. No items of clothing can be see-through or sheer. You must have pants that fall below the ankle, and they can’t be skin tight like leggings. Shoulders of both men and women must be covered. For shoes, you can’t wear any sandal without a back strap. I wore a pair of elephant pants that I bought on the street the night before, a t-shirt and my sports sandals.
There are certain parts of the complex where you aren’t allowed to take photos. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha houses the most holy Buddha sculpture and the inside of the temple may not be photographed. There are many signs, in several languages, warning you not to take a photo. Please be aware of them while touring the complex.
Bring lots of water and sunscreen. The complex is huge and Bangkok’s weather can quickly get overwhelming while you explore. There is little shade and few options for water so be sure to bring your own.
Where to go next?
There are tons of things to do in Bangkok once you have gotten your fill of the Grand Palace!
- Check out Wat Pho, a nearby temple that is just a few minutes walk from the Grand Palace. Wat Pho is known for its beautiful stupas and hundreds of gold Buddha statues. It’s definitely worth a visit. Admission is 100 Baht and the temple is open from 8AM to 5:30PM.
- Take a day tour to Bangkok’s Floating Markets. You can shop for souvenirs and delicious food from boats along a river. Get all the insider info in my guide to the floating markets!
- Bangkok’s Chinatown is only a few stops away on the river boat. Take the boat with the orange flag and get off at N5 Ratchawong. From there you can walk to Yaowarat Road, the heart of Chinatown, were you can find great shopping and delicious Dim Sum.
- Take a Taxi to MBK and check out one of Bangkok’s best shopping malls! You could spend hours wandering around the maze of shops in the mall. If you want to see one of Bangkok’s more upscale malls check out the nearby Siam Paragon.
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