Bangkok's Grand Palace

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Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace

The highlight of our recent trip to Bangkok was seeing Nanna (my mother), who was on a three night stop over on her way to Tibet and China. A short visit but worth the journey to see the smiles on the kids faces when they saw Nanna for the first time since Easter.

This was Nanna and her partner's first trip to Bangkok and we only had a single day for sightseeing in the city. One day to see the highlights of a city the size of Bangkok - not an easy task! In the end we decided to visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, followed by street food snacks in the nearby markets, a river ferry ride to Phra Arthit and lunch at a restaurant near Khoa San Rd that we'd discovered on our last visit to Bangkok.

Of course we struck a ridiculously hot day and underestimated how long it would take to see the Grand Palace complex, so we ended up skipping the ferry ride as the kids were too tired. But we still had a great day out at the Palace, followed by green curries, shopping and ice creams near Khoa San Rd. I

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, are at the top of many tourists 'must see' lists. Within two minutes of walking inside the palace grounds we realised they were a 'must see' for a very good reason. I've seen a lot of temple complexes and palaces during our time in Asia, and this one is definitely up there with the best.

For almost 150 years, the Grand Palace was the home of the King and his court, as well as administrative seat of government. Thai Kings stopped living in the palace full time at the start of the twentieth century but the complex remains the seat of power and spiritual heart of the Thai kingdom.

Grand Palace Bangkok

We spent most of our visit exploring the temple complexes surrounding Wat Phra Kaew. The rich blues and greens, earthy reds and shining gold tiles covering every imaginable surface are stunning.  The architecture is intricate and varied, since many of the buildings were gifted to Thailand and are built in the architectural styles of their home country. There's even a scale version of Angkor Wat!

Scale model Angkor Wat

The shear scale of the temple complex is so huge it borders on the ridiculous. By the end you're like 'meh enough gold gilded temple, seen ten of those already' ... but it was still worth seeing.

Noah spent most of his visit trying to calculate how much the tiles on the temple walls would be worth after I pointed out to him that they were gold. He had grand plans for what he could do with even just the tiles from a few naga. I was relieved to find out that none involved plans for world domination. Always good to know given infinite wealth your kid doesn't harbour secret desires to become an evil mastermind living in a secret volcano lair.

Counting the naga

 

Grand Palace Bangkok

Eventually he gave up his calculations and discovered several ponds filled with toads. The rest of the visit was spent counting the toads and making us go back to count them again ... and again ... before the heat got too much.

it's hot

On our way out we dropped into the weapons museum inside the Borom Phiman Mansion. It's a small museum but the kids loved it.

"Mummy that's a trident"

"Wow how do you know that?"

"From watching Little Mermaid"

Oh dear ....

 

Borom Phiman Mansion Bangkok

Visiting the Grand Palace

Is it worth it? Even with kids?

Maybe!

We were really impressed by the Grand Palace and had a fantastic morning there. The buildings are stunning. There's not too much climbing involved and there were plenty of things the kids could touch - both big pluses! Our kids were also really impressed by the changing of the guards and the small stores selling ice creams.

BUT it's huge, hot and packed with tourist.

The biggest negative is the entrance fee. At 400 baht per adult (kids free) it is ridiculously expensive. The entrance does include entrance to several of the museums, including the mint, as well as several other mansions around Bangkok but whether you are likely to visit those is another question!

The Palace grounds and temples are very impressive but Bangkok has a lot of other amazingly beautiful temples that you can visit for 1/10 the entrance fee. They're also quieter! I probably wouldn't go back again now that we've seen it purely based on the entrance cost. But I think it was worth seeing once if your budget can afford it.

Dress Code

Dress code for visitors is strict. Men are required to wear covered shoes (or at least fashion crimes like socks with sandals!), shirts with sleeves and long pants. Women need to have their shoulders and knees covered. No singlet shirts or revealing clothing is allowed.

Appropriate clothing is a available for loan near the entrance, although you are required to leave a deposit.

Opening hours

The palace is open from 8.30 - 3.30 every day, unless a royal ceremony or other official function is on. The audience halls and throne rooms in the Grand Palace are closed on weekends.On the day we were there several sections were closed with signs up stating a Royal funeral was in progress.

 

Next Post: Photo walk around our neighbourhood in Penang Previous Post: A kids morning out at the Chatuchak Markets

About the Author

tracykids

Tracy Burns

Tracy always talked about traveling a lot more than she ever traveled. Married to an avid traveler that thankfully changed. After almost two years exploring South East Asia and Australia, enjoying the most amazing food, temples, beaches, and more importantly every sweet food treat she can find, Tracy is keen to explore further afield. Tracy juggles homeschooling, playtime, blogging and learning more about photography while they travel. Some days she juggles them better than others!

Comments (4):

  1. Wow - sounds like a great day! I cant believe how gorgeous the temples look. Not sure if my kids would stay still long enough for us to be able to see everything. At least the kids can get in for free....and sitting on the steps eating ice-cream sounds like a perfect way to end the day :)

    cheers
    Lisa

  2. what cool photos!! i am amazed at the entrance fee (no wonder it is covered in gold, yes?) and the crowds. glad noah found the toads!!

  3. Your photos are stunning, makes me yearn to get to that part of the world soon.

  4. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks

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