The Grand Palace is the number one attraction in Bangkok and sits at the heart of the capital. I’d recommend anyone who comes to Thailand to visit the Grand Palace at least once. There’s no other imperial palace in Asia that matches its magnificence as every statue and building glitters in pure gold. The Grand Palace was once the home of the Kings of Siam and spreads across 200,000 square metres. The compound is a majestic collection of royal residences, courtyards, temples and each corner shines gloriously on its own. Currently, the buildings are used for ceremonial purposes and visits from Heads of State.
The entirety of the Grand Palace is grandeur and holds great spiritual meaning. There are giant guardian figures or ‘Yaksha’ structures believed to ward off evil spirits. The colors of white and gold are incredibly breathtaking – golden spires, hundreds of beautiful edifice with gleaming tiles and mosaics. The Grand Palace was built under the reign of King Rama I, which represents Thailand’s symbolic architecture. Every hour seems bustling with tourists and not a single centimetre is unoccupied.
Related: Ayutthaya and Temples of Bangkok
The main attraction of the Grand Palace is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). It is the holiest buddhist temple in Thailand, where the Emerald Buddha resides – a holy relic standing at 66-cm high and made of green jade. The word, ‘kaew’ refers to the green color of the emerald. Legends say the emerald buddha brings fortune to the country that possesses it, past kings and armies have gone to war for it. In 1778, King Taksin went to war and retrieved it from Laos and for over 200 years the emerald buddha has rested in Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok.
- Strict dress code: Make sure you’re dressed properly before entering the Grand Palace – you will be refused entry without appropriate attire. Usually this means insufficient clothing – no bare shoulders, short pants, sleeveless, bare feet, etc. This applies to men and women. However, there are several shops directly outside the gate that sell traditional thai clothing for about 100 baht.
- One-day tour: It is definitely possible to achieve all 3 landmarks (Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun) in one day. Get up early in the morning and start on the Grand Palace first, then head to Wat Pho and Wat Arun. The time spent at the Grand Palace and visiting the temple of Emerald Buddha definitely takes the most time (est. 2 hours). Next, head on to Wat Pho next and make Wat Arun your last destination.
- Safety: The Grand Palace is always a major attraction and filled with crowds of people. Be careful of pickpockets and carry your bags on the front. Also, there’s a warning sign on this at the gate, so be vigilant.
- Weather: Unless it’s rainy, the weather shouldn’t be an issue for the most part of the year. It would usually be scorching hot and if you’re on the move to visit more destinations, it’s best to have 1L of mineral water in your bag to keep hydrated.
- Opening hours: 08:30 – 15:30
- Entrance fee: 500 baht (all-inclusive of all the zones in the Grand Palace).
- Location: Na Phra Lan Rd, Bangkok, 10200, Thailand