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It’s the most well-known attraction in Bangkok, and it’s top of the bucket list for the majority of first-time visitors to Thailand. There’s little denying the beauty and splendour of the Grand Palace, but a few insider tips can make your trip even better.
Here are our tips to help you get the most out of your visit to The Grand Palace.
The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings that has been the official residence of the Kings of Chakri dynasty, ever since King Rama 1 moved the capital to Bangkok in 1782. Prior to this, the palace and centre of administration had been located across the river in Thonburi bank of the Chao Phraya.
The Grand Palace consists of royal residences and throne halls, administrative, and the sacred Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It covers an area of 218,000 square metres and is surrounded by four walls, 1900 metres in length.
The Grand Palace served as the main residence of the King until 1925. Now it is mainly used for ceremonial purposes.
The Grand Palace admission fee is 500THB for foreigners. It is free for Thais and children under 120cm tall.
However, it’s a better deal than it might seem at first glance. In addition to allowing you to take in the Grand Palace and Temple of The Emerald Buddha complex, you also get access to a few other museums. In addition the ticket includes entrance to a traditional Thai “Khon” masked dance at Sala Chalermkrung theatre.
You can buy a ticket at the entrance or you can buy online at the official website for The Grand Palace.
There are many websites that do claim to sell tickets but usually they are including a guide as well.
If you can pull yourself out of bed on time, getting to the Grand Palace at around the opening time of 8.30 am. It gives you a far greater chance of having the place to yourself for an initial wander and getting that peace-exuding shot of the complex grounds without a soul around.
Though, The Grand Palace might no longer be home to Thailand’s royal family (they moved out to the Dusit Palace as long ago as 1925), it still plays a role in the most important of Thailand’s royal and religious ceremonies. Among these is the changing three times a year of the costume that adorns the Emerald Buddha statue inside Wat Phra Kaew – the switch between the three different costumes marks the transition between Thailand’s seasons, with one costume for each of the hot, rainy and cool seasons.
We always recommend a visit to The Grand Palace. While it is often packed with tourists it remains the most important attraction in Bangkok and one of the most spectacular.
At a very minimum you need 1 hour but to see it properly we suggest 2 hours. If you are detail orientated you may need longer.
The Grand Palace complex consists of 2 parts: The temple part and palace part. When you visit you get access to both. Locals usually refer to it as Wat Phra Keaw (The Temple of The Emerald Buddha).
We recommend visiting as early in the day as possible before it gets too hot and before there are too many people.
A dress code is strictly enforced at the Grand Palace. Please avoid revealing clothing and tight-fitting stretch pants. You should wear a shirt covering your shoulders, long pants covering your ankles, or a skirt and dress covering your knees.
• sleeveless shirts
• crop tops
• see through tops
• short hot pants, shorts or miniskirts
• torn pants
• tight pants
Flip-flops are not appropriate footwear but it is usually overlooked as shoes must be removed when entering sacred areas anyway.
However, if anything is unacceptable, there are several shops just outside the complex that will sell you a suitable clothing to wear (and keep as a souvenir).
For full details of the dress code visit the official website of The Grand Palace.
Our simple answer would be yes. If there is one place in Bangkok where you could gain significant insight from having a good guide, then it is here. While there are guides who hang around the Grand Palace we recommend booking a tour in advance via a reputable company.
Audio guides are also available in 8 different languages.
The Grand Palace is open daily from 8:30am. Last entry is at 3:30pm and they will make sure everyone has left by 4:30pm.
We suggest going early to avoid crowds and avoid having to rush.
Many of Bangkok’s main historical attractions are located in the vicinity of The Grand Palace. There are also many great cafes and places to get a drink. Read this article for more details.
The area around the Grand Palace, in Bangkok’s old town of Rattanakosin Island, is a pocket full of historical, cultural and gastronomical interest. There are countless other temples, plus numerous museums that are worth visiting. Most people do combine it with a visit to Wat Pho and Wat Arun.
Don’t trust Bangkok’s infamous touts, who will tell you just about any number of lies to get you to take a scammy tuk tuk tour or visit a dodgy tailor’s shop for which they are on commission. We’ve heard stories of tourists being told everything from the complex being closed for Buddhist holiday celebrations, to lies about the whole place having burned down!
But whatever you’re told, the truth is that the Grand Palace rarely closes. It does happen on occasion. For example, for royal ceremonies (see below). But in these cases it’s almost always just a smaller section of the complex that closes, leaving the rest open for visitors.
If it is closed there will usually be a sign up on the main gates. If you want to be up to speed in advance of your visit, following travel blogger @richardbarrow on Twitter is a good idea. He regularly tweets about planned closures to the Grand Palace.
If you are interested about scams in Bangkok including the Grand Palace, check out our blog How to Avoid Scams in Bangkok & Beyond.
At Expique our mission is to help people discover the real Bangkok (and beyond) and the local cultures. Our current focus is to provide the best content available to plan a trip and discover Thailand.
Prior to COVID-19 our focus was on offering a range of experiences in Bangkok including our award winning Bangkok Night Lights Tuk Tuk Tour. These have now been temporarily suspended.
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