The Grand Palace Bangkok established Bangkok as the new capital of Thailand in 1782 and is home to one of Thailand's greatest treasures - The Emerald Buddha.
Bangkok's Grand Palace is a compound of buildings. There are various buildings which make up the compound, some of which are off limits to the general public but can still be see from the outside where you can marvel at the stunning designs and architecture - just be sure to have your camera ready.
The palace is located in the old section of Bangkok, very close the the main river, The Chao Praya, and as such is not close to any stop for the Sky train or the Subway and so you have to get there by taxi, river ferry or bus.
If you are coming from the Silom, Sathorn, Sukhumvit areas of Bangkok, we suggest you get to Saphan Thaksin on the Sky train route. This will take you to the river and from that stop, you can get the river ferry to the Grand Palace and get off at Tha Chang.
When you arrive at the Grand Palace entrance, you'll notice a number of entrances, all with guards.
However, as tourists, you can only enter via the main entrance - which is obvious. Thais can enter via a number of entrances and can enter for free.
The entrance to The Grand Palace in Bangkok is also the main guard house and so you'll probably witness some guard changing but the guards are plainly dressed and look like standard soldiers more than ceremonial guards.
There is also an office where you can leave your goods and also borrow some trousers and tops if you forget to turn up appropriately dressed. It's important to know that you MUST dress appropriately and this means not wearing short skirts or low cut dresses.
At this entrance area, you'll notice a lot of people milling around and this is usually people waiting for a tour to begin. You will probably be approached by a Thai who can speak English asking you whether you wish to join a tour or have a personal guide. Whether you do or don't is up to you but there is no pressure to do so.
If you are really into the history and want to know all about the various buildings a guide will be a good idea. However, if you just want to marvel at the splendor that is The Grand Palace, then you will probably get by using the free pamphlet /map that you will receive on either buying your ticket or going through the turn styles.
At this point, you are not yet in the grounds of the Grand Palace but you can get your first glimpse of some roof tops and pagodas and the main, golden stupa.
If you follow the flow of people entering Bangkok's Grand Palace, you'll arrive at the ticket window. You'll need to buy your tickets before being allowed through the turn styles. There is a mini-mart type shop next to the ticket booth which is where you can buy batteries, memory cards, drinks and snacks. Prices will be inflated so only use this as a last resort.. This goes for the shops opposite and around the Grand Palace.
Best Time To Arrive
We suggest you get there as early as possible due to the heat. If you go after 11 am it will be very hot and there are few places to cool off.
The Grand Palace is a photographers haven and so pick your day carefully. Dull muggy days will not produce good photographs so try to visit when it is clear and not over cast. If you go to Bangkok in June to September, it's quite likely to be over cast most days as this is the rainy season.
The best time to visit - if photography is a primary concern - is around March - June which is the hot season. The photography will be good but it'll be hot whilst doing it.
You will also find it fairly difficult to take photos with all the other people there. Each time you have a good shot, someone will walk in front of you or groups of people will be standing around just getting in the shot, so if it's good photography you are after, get there early.
Also, everything is quite close together so getting a good expansive shot is difficult without a wide angled lens. Using a standard lens / camera means tops of buildings will always be cut off or something missing from each shot.
Food & Drinks
It's best to take a bottle of water with you. If you take one with you you'll be able to buy a bottle for about 20 Baht. If you wait until you get to The Grand Palace, it'll cost you 70 + Baht. Snacks are OK, but certainly nothing like fast food.
There is a cafe near the museum. Prices are reasonable but there is not much there. It's mainly hot and cold drinks and some snacks.
How To Dress
We suggest loose clothing that covers your legs, shoulders and chest. We also recommend wearing sandals or shoes you can take off easily because you have to take your shoes off to enter most of the temples and some buildings.
Direction To Follow
You do not have to follow a particular route but be sure to look at your guide map to be sure you take in everything. It is very easy to wander around and find yourself heading outside having missed a number of important buildings.
After buying your ticket however, you will be guided to the main section which is the Temple Of The Emerald Buddha (Wat Pra Kaew). Your first view is shown on the left.
As mentioned earlier, the Grand Palace consists of inner and outer courts and it's the outer court that is open to the public although not all buildings are open for viewing.
Two thrown rooms are open but no photos can be taken. You can take photographs of the exterior of the buildings but not inside.
You can't take photos inside Wat Pra Kaew either
Unfortunately, there are a few scams that go on around the Grand Palace - as elsewhere in Bangkok.
One of the main scams is to tell you the palace is closed due to prayers or some other official function and whilst official functions do occur, they are few and far between and for all intents and purposes, The Grand Palace is open all year round.
The idea of the scam is for you to choose to go somewhere else and you'll be taken there by an expensive tuk tuk / taxi ride and will be driven to places where they will try to sell you stuff.
So, if you are unlucky enough to go on one of the rare days The Grand Palace in Bangkok is closed, do not accept an invitation to go on a tour that you haven't planned. We suggest you go back and plan an alternative trip.
Wat Po - Reclining Buddha- 5 minute walk
(Famous reclining Buddha is behind The Grand Palace. An entrance fee should be paid but it's easy to avoid)
National Museum- 5 minute walk
(Largest museum in the area with many displays to help you learn about Thai life and culture)
Golden Mount Temple - 20 - 25 minute walk
(A golden topped temple set on a small hill a short walk from Kao Sarn Road.... a decent view across Bangkok awaits.)
Wat Chana SongkhramRachawora Mahawiharn - 20 minute walk
(Ancient temple built in the Ayutthaya period- good introduction to Thai temples)
Giant Swing - 15 minute walk
(Huge red swing about 80 feet high once used by young men swinging to catch a bag of silver coins in their teeth.)
Wat Suthat - 15 minute walk
(large temple next to the Giant Swing)
Wat Ratchanatdaram Worawihan- 20 minute walk
(a short walk past democracy monument, this temple is architectually impressive)
Situated opposite Central World, the Arnoma Hotel provides good accommodation in an excellent location. Close to Skytrains, excellent shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Few hotels at this price offer such a good location.