The Grand Palace (Royal Palace) and the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok are a must-see when visiting the Thai capital.
The Royal Palace (Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang)
The Royal Palace was built in 1782 by King Rama I on the left (eastern) bank of the Chao Phraya.
It houses not only the royal residence and throne room but also a large number of government offices and the temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo).
It covers an area of 21.8 hectares and is surrounded by four walls 1,900 m long.
History of the Grand Palace
The first capital of Siam was Sukhothai from the beginning of the 13th century to the middle of the 14th century.
It was then Ayutthaya who fulfilled this function, but in 1569 the Burmese kingdom, a secular enemy, inflicted a crushing defeat on Siam by ravaging Ayutthaya and killing the population.
In the following decades, the Siamese took over Ayutthaya, but in 1767 the Burmese sacked it again.
After having once again driven the invaders out of Siam, King Taksin moved the capital to Thonburi in 1770.
About ten years later, the next king, Rama I, founder of the Chakri dynasty (which still reigns today), chose to settle on the other side of the Chao Praya river in the village called Bangkok.
In 1782 he had a Palace built in a meander of the river (which would be the official residence of the Kings of Siam until 1946) and a temple named Wat Phra Keo to house the statue of the Emerald Buddha.
Over time, many other royal buildings were added, and it is this group of buildings, all more sumptuous than the others, scattered over an immense 218-hectare enclosure, that we call the Grand Palace.
The Emerald Buddha
The Emerald Buddha is a jadeite statue revered throughout Thailand; it is located in the Royal Chapel of the Grand Palais (Wat Phra Si Ratana Satsadaram).
The Emerald Buddha is the religious and symbolic emblem of the Chakri dynasty, the country’s palladium.
History of the Emerald Buddha
Its origin is surrounded by legend.
It appeared in 1434 at Chiang Rai, in the far north of the country.
It was discovered in a chedi gutted by lightning, and looked like a gilded stucco statue.
Later, the stucco cracked, and the translucent green stone appeared.
The Statue is called “the emerald Buddha,” but it is jadeite, and it was named Phra Keo Morakot.
The king of Chiang Mai, after hearing about the statue, wanted to recover it and sent an elephant convoy to bring it back.
But on the way back, the elephant carrying the Buddha took the wrong path, and the statue arrived in Lampang, where the king, not wanting to upset the divine signs, left it.
She stayed there for 32 years.
In 1468 the new king of Chiang Mai Tilokaraj recovered the statue.
In 1551 the kingdom of Chiang Mai came under the rule of the king of Lan Xang (now Laos), and the Buddha left for Luang Prabang, where he remained until 1564 when the capital of Laos was transferred to Vientiane.
In 1778 General Chakri, future Rama I, seized the city and brought the statue back to Thonburi.
It was placed in Wat Arun and finally found its place in the chapel of the palace of the new capital in 1784.
The Emerald Buddha and his veneration
The jadeite block measures 75 cm high by 45 cm wide, the statue itself measures only 60 cm tall, 15 cm from the uncut base being hidden in the pedestal.
According to his style, the Emerald Buddha belongs to the Northern school of Chiang Saen. It was probably carved in the 15th century. It is assumed that jadeite comes from Burma.
The statue is presented on a gold pedestal, on an 11-meter high altar, in a glass cage and under a 9-storey golden parasol that symbolizes universal royalty.
The Buddha is at the center of royal and popular devotion. He owns three gemstone costumes that are solemnly changed by the king himself, according to the seasons during great ceremonies.
All around the Buddha, at the foot of the altar, are gathered royal gifts and those offered by the people.
Video of a visit of the Grand Palais and the Emerald Buddha
Watch out for scams!
Professional Thai and Western crooks are used to using this popular place to find prey to scam, beware if you are told that the temple is closed, check it out by yourself and don’t let a tuk-tuk take you for a free ride to a fake ruby shop (very common scam).
To visit the Grand Palace and the Temple of Wat Phra Kaeo, proper clothing is required (pants, covered shoulders, closed shoes, flip-flops are prohibited).
Timetable and opening days
The site is open from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, seven days a week (except on ceremonial days).
Entry ticket price
It is advisable to book your ticket in advance to avoid a long wait at the ticket offices.
Admission ticket: 500 baht
You can book here.
Getting to Grand Palace
The Grand Palais is located near the Chao Praya River, next to Wat Pho.
There is no subway station in the area.
To reach the Royal Palace, you must take a taxi, a public boat or the bus.
By Taxi: tell your driver that you want to go to Wat Phra Kaeo (“Pai thi Wat Pra Keo,” in Thai), some taxi drivers in Bangkok do not know the term “Grand Palace.”
By boat: take the Silom Line of the Skytrain BTS (aerial metro) and get off at Saphan Taksin station.
Then take exit number 2 and the public boat Chao Phraya Express Boat to Tha Chang Station (Station #9).
After that, you are 5 minutes’ walk from the main entrance of the Grand Palais.
By bus: if you are resourceful, this is the most economical but also the most complicated way (when you don’t speak Thai) to get there.
Most Bangkok city buses have stops near the Grand Palais.
The bus lines that stop at the Palais Royal are:
Bus 1, 3, 9, 15, 25, 30, 32, 33, 39, 43, 44, 47, 53, 64, 80, 82, 91, 201, 203, 501, 503, 508 and 512.
Maps of the Royal Palace
Situation of the Grand Palace on the map of Bangkok
Source: http://fr.wikipedia.org; Photos: The Grand Palace: Mda; Grand Palace: Gisling; Phra Sri Ratana Chedi: Michael Janich; Giant Grand Palace: Sim100; Emerald Buddha: Gakuro; Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram: Aimaimyi; Emerald Buddha Temple: Sodacan
How useful was this post?
Click on a star to rate it!
Average rating / 5. Vote count:
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Thanks for your feedback!