This article is all about one of Thailand’s most fascinating landmarks: we are talking about the Grand Palace Bangkok, also known as the Royal Palace (Thai: พระบรมมหาราชวัง).
The Grand Palace is an absolute must-see on any visit to Bangkok, offering a fascinating history, plenty of culture, and stunning architecture.
The Grand Palace Bangkok also houses one of the most precious treasures of the entire Kingdom of Thailand: the unique Emerald Buddha at home in Wat Phra Kaeo.
Getting there: By MRT (Blue Line) to Sam Yot, by ferry to Tha Tien Pier, or by cab.
Grand Palace Bangkok opening hours: Daily from 08:30 to 15:30.
Grand Palace Bangkok ticket: 500 baht for adults (as of 2023).
Dress code Grand Palace Bangkok: Knees and shoulders covered
The History of the Grand Palace (Grand Palace Bangkok)
The Royal Palace (Grand Palace Bangkok) was built in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I.
The latter aimed to resurrect the glory of the Siamese Empire after the Burmese had destroyed the ancient capital of Ayutthaya 15 years earlier.
The Great Palace was built on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River, north of the then-already-existing Wat Pho (then: Wat Potharam) and south of Wat Mahathat (then: Wat Salak).
For over 150 years, the Royal Palace (Grand Palace Bangkok) served as the royal residence.
Then, in the late 1920s, it was transformed into a museum and the official venue for royal ceremonies.
Today, the Grand Palace is, first and foremost, a landmark, a place of religious worship, and one of the flagships of the city of Bangkok.
Officially, the Grand Palace Bangkok is only used for special occasions and royal events.
Nevertheless, its importance as a historical and cultural jewel of Thailand remains unchanged.
Tip: Book a guided tour of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew to learn more about the history of the Grand Palace.
This is what awaits you at the Royal Palace (Grand Palace Bangkok)
The Great Palace covers an area of about 218,000 square meters and is surrounded by a high wall.
Inside the wall, you can expect many different, richly decorated buildings and several temples and halls. There are also some beautifully landscaped gardens.
Specifically, the palace consists of four parts: The Outer Court, the Central Court, the Inner Court, and Wat Phra Kaeo.
Each of the four areas was perfectly tailored during construction to those who lived or worked there.
For example, the Inner Courtyard in the Northern Palace was reserved for women – accordingly, it is surrounded by a high wall.
The ministries, the king’s guards, and the treasury sat in the Outer Court in the southern palace.
Most impressive, however, is the Central Court, which houses, among other things, the Chakri Maha Prasat with the Throne Hall, the Dusit Palace, and the Wat Phra Kaeo Museum.
Overall, the Royal Palace (Grand Palace Bangkok) is modeled after the old Royal Palace in Ayutthaya, which the Burmese had previously destroyed.
Emerald Buddha: The main attraction of the palace
The absolute highlight of the Royal Palace (Grand Palace Bangkok) is definitely the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, also known as Wat Phra Kaeo.
As the name suggests, the temple houses the famous Emerald Buddha, a precious and sacred Buddha statue carved from a single block of jade.
The Buddha is depicted in various poses and is framed by glittering gold ornaments.
The Wat Phra Kaeo Museum is somewhat hidden in the Central Courtyard’s southern part.
It is located in a western-style building that King Chulalongkorn once had built as the “Royal Mint.”
Here are some original architectural elements exhibited that had fallen victim to previous renovations.
You can also admire various Buddha statues donated to the temple by kings and private individuals.
On the upper floor, you can see the “Manangasila Throne” and a model of Wat Phra Kaeo during the time of King Rama I.
In addition to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, highlights of the site include the impressive Phra Maha Montien Halls, the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall, and the Royal Palace itself.
Tips for your visit to the Grand Palace Bangkok
The Grand Palace Bangkok is one of the city’s most popular sights.
So it’s worth coming early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Also, you can enjoy slightly cooler temperatures in the morning, while it often gets unbearably hot in the temple complex at lunchtime.
Since the palace is a sacred place, you should pay attention to appropriate clothing. Cover your knees and shoulders and wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking in the facility quite a bit.
It may also be worth booking a guided tour or using an audio guide to learn more about the royal palace’s colorful history and major landmarks.
Tip: Save money with this self-guided audio tour of the four main temples in Bangkok.
Around the Grand Palace Bangkok, several cookshops serve delicious Thai dishes.
Try, for example, the famous Tom Yum soup, Pad Thai, or Som Tum (green papaya salad).
Dresscode Grand Palace Bangkok
If you plan to visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, knowing and respecting the Grand Palace Bangkok dress code is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
The Grand Palace is a significant cultural and religious site, so appropriate attire is essential to show respect for Thai traditions and customs.
Here are some tips on what to wear when visiting the Grand Palace:
- Cover Your Shoulders: Both men and women should wear tops that cover their shoulders. Sleeveless shirts and tank tops are not allowed on the palace grounds.
- Wear Modest Tops: Choose tops that are not low-cut or revealing. It’s best to opt for shirts and blouses that cover the chest area appropriately.
- Knee-Length or Longer Bottoms: Wearing knee-length or longer bottoms is a must for both men and women. Shorts, skirts, and dresses should reach or go beyond the knees.
- No Tight-Fitting Clothing: Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes as they might be considered
Grand Palace Bangkok Opening Hours
The Grand Palace is open to visitors every day of the week, including weekends and public holidays. The opening hours are from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
However, it’s important to note that the Grand Palace might occasionally close early due to special events, ceremonies, or official functions.
Thus, double-checking the schedule or verifying the opening hours beforehand is always a good idea to avoid any disappointment.
Also, please remember that the last admission into the Grand Palace is usually around 3:15 PM. To fully enjoy this breathtaking site, arriving a bit earlier is best to allow enough time for exploration.
In addition to the Grand Palace, the adjacent Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) is also a must-see attraction, and it’s within the same complex. So, you might want to plan your visit to include both places.
Grand Palace Bangkok Ticket
You’ll need to purchase an admission ticket to enter the Grand Palace complex.
The Grand Palace Bangkok Ticket grants you access to the Grand Palace itself and includes entry to the awe-inspiring Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew).
As of 2023, the ticket prices are as follows:
- For foreign adults: 500 Thai Baht (THB) per person.
Please note that these prices are subject to change, so verifying the current ticket prices before your visit is a good idea.
You can conveniently purchase the tickets at the entrance to the Grand Palace. The ticket counter is well-marked, so you won’t have trouble finding it.
Our conclusion about the Royal Palace (Grand Palace Bangkok)
The Grand Palace is much more than just one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist destinations.
It is a living cultural heritage of Thailand and offers deep insights into the rich history and traditions of the country.
In our opinion, the Royal Palace (Grand Palace Bangkok) is, therefore, an absolute must for any visit to Thailand.
Embark on a journey into the past, marvel at the breathtaking architecture, and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this magical place.
A final tip: If you want to get in the mood for Bangkok before your trip, you should watch the movies “Anna and the King” with Jodie Foster or “The King and I” (1956) – for both films, the Grand Palace served as a film set.
Both films are based on the autobiography of Anna Leonowens, whose books tell of her five-year stay in Siam (now Thailand) from 1862 to 1867.
She was summoned to the court to teach English to the fifty or so children of Rama IV.
The best tours for your visit to the Grand Palace
Visit the main sights of Bangkok with tickets to the Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha Temple, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun with a local guide.
The tour will first take you to the Grand Palace, which was once the home of the kings of Siam and now houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Continue to Wat Pho with the famous reclining Buddha. The last stop is Wat Arun – the beautiful Temple of Dawn.
During this tour, you will experience Bangkok’s best markets and temples. Let’s start with a visit to the Mae Klong train market.
The next stop is the floating market of Damnoen Saduak, where you can taste many regional delicacies.
We then continue to the Grand Palace. Here, your guide will tell you everything you need to know about the complex and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
You will visit the Grand Palace with a local guide during this half-day tour. Here, you can learn everything you need about this impressive facility.
Then, we will go to the temple of the reclining Buddha. Take a journey back in time with your guide, and let the spirituality of the sacred place wash over you.
On the way back, we will pass Tha Thien Market, a cultural food market with great traditional products.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Grand Palace Bangkok
Here, we answer some frequently asked questions about the Royal Grand Palace Bangkok.
What exactly is the Grand Palace in Bangkok?
The Grand Palace in Bangkok is an impressive historical site in the heart of Bangkok. It served as the royal residence of Thai kings for over 150 years.
Where exactly is the Grand Palace Bangkok located?
The Grand Palace is located in the Phra Nakhon district of Bangkok, near the Chao Phraya River and near the Wat Pho temple.
What sights are there to discover in the Grand Palace?
The Grand Palace has many impressive buildings and temples, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo), the Phra Maha Montien Halls, the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall, and many more.
What are the opening hours of the Grand Palace?
The Grand Palace temple Bangkok is open to visitors daily from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Please note that admission will be granted only until 15:00.
Does the Grand Palace in Bangkok charge admission?
Admission to the Royal Palace costs 500 baht for tourists (free for Thais). Children up to a height of 120cm can visit the facility for free.
What is the dress code in the Grand Palace?
Since the Grand Palace is a sacred place, appropriate attire is expected. Shoulders and knees must be covered. You can rent clothes at the entrance if you are not dressed appropriately.
Are there guided tours or audio guides at the Grand Palace?
Yes, both guided tours and audio guides are available.
How long does it take to visit the Grand Palace Bangkok?
It all depends on your own pace. However, we recommend planning at least two to three hours for the most important sights.
Are there any special events or ceremonies at the Grand Palace Bangkok?
Yes, the Grand Palace is still used for royal ceremonies and events, such as the annual ceremony celebrating the king’s birthday in December.
How to get to the Grand Palace Bangkok?
You can easily reach the Grand Palace by cab, tuk-tuk, or boat on the Chao Phraya River. There are also buses and the Skytrain that stop nearby.