The Grand Palace in Bangkok is one of the most important and popular tourist destinations in Thailand. It is a complex of beautiful, marvelous structures, including palaces which accommodated and served Thai kings until 1925, along with the most significant and sacred temple in Thailand – Wat Phra Kaew (the emerald Buddha temple).
For the first article, a review of the Grand Palace history => click this link
In this article, I will shortly cover the structure of the Grand Palace and the division to different areas
The Grand Palace Structure
The complex is divided to 4 main areas, separated from one another by walls and gates: The Outer Court, the Middle Court, the Inner Court and Wat Phra Kaew (the emerald Buddha temple).
The Outer Court
The outer court is located in the north-western corner, next to the main entrance to the Grand Palace. This is where the royal government resided in the past, and today the structures serve to manage the palace along with the other royal assets. Next to this area, in the north-eastern corner, you’ll find Wat Phra Kaew.
The Middle Court
The middle court is at the largest part of the Grand Palace, and it lies at the heart of the complex. The middle court features the palaces that accommodated Thai kings in the past, along with various halls and structures.
When exiting Wat Phra Kaew area, you’ll get right to the Middle Court, which features one of the most prominent and impressive structures in the area – the Chakri Maha Prasat – a large, western style palace, with Thai elements. The structure was built by king Rama V, and its construction was completed on 1882.
King Rama V wanted a European style palace, and assigned an English architect for that purpose. Some of the king’s associates and advisors argued that Thai elements should be integrated into the work, and the final result was indeed, a western/European style palace with a Thai styled roof.
Next to the palace, you’ll see the Dusit Maha Prasat, an impressive, beautiful structure with a Thai design, which was built by king Rama I back in 1790. Right next to it, by the western wall of Dusit Maha Prasat, king Rama IV built the Aphorn Phimok Pavilion some time later. The structure served as a designated place to change clothes when departing or returning to the palace.
The small wooden structure is considered one of the highlights of Thai art. King Rama IV loved it so much that he wanted to build an exact replica in Bang Pa In palace. The international exhibition held in Brussels in 1958 also featured a replica of Aphorn Phimok Pavilion.
The Inner Court
The inner court is located in the southern part of the Grand Palace. In the past, the area served as the residence place for the king’s wives and mistresses, entourages and young children; a total of 3,000 persons lived in the area.
The area functioned as a small city, which was managed by the women. It featured shops, schools, warehouses etc. When a male professional visited the area, he was accompanied by local female guards.
Today, the area is completely empty and no resident lives there. Moreover, no activity takes place in any of the structures, and the area is closed to the public.
Wat Phra Kaew (the emerald Buddha temple).
Built in 1783 as part of the Grand Palace complex, Wat Phra Kaew is the most sacred temple in Thailand, featuring a Buddha statue made from a 70-cm high, single piece of jade stone.
The emerald Buddha statue is very sacred, and is said to guard and protect Thailand. The statue’s origin is not certain, but since the 15th century, it was in Chiang Mai. In later times, it was moved to different places in Laos until the late 18th century, when it was brought to Bangkok and since then lies in Wat Phra Kaew.
The Buddha statue has been dressed in a set of golden gowns. There are 3 golden sets which represent the 3 seasons in Thailand, and the Thai king changes from one cape to another in an impressive ceremony that is held once the seasons change – on the first day of the 4th, 8th and 12th month according to the Thai lunar calendar (usually on March, August and October).
In conclusion: A must-see site that you just have to visit during your stay in Bangkok!! Those who are interested in culture, art and history can spend days exploring the place, but for general impression purposes, a 1-2-hour visit should do the work.
Opening hours: every day from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, but you may purchase entrance tickets until 3:30 PM (for 500 baht)
Dress code: when visiting the Grand Palace, you must dress appropriately – short/long sleeve shirts (as long as the shoulders are covered) and pants/skirts/dresses that cover your knees (or longer outfits).
A word of warning: The Grand palace area is surrounded by swindlers and tricksters who will approach you and tell you that the Grand Palace is closed today (from whatever reason). Instead, they will offer you a tour elsewhere. Simply ignore them!
My opinion: a very impressive place – don’t miss it when visiting Bangkok.
♣ Here’s a clip I took in the Grand Palace… …Enjoy!!