Visiting Grand Palace Bangkok. The Grand Palace complex in Bangkok is by no means an off-the-beaten-path monument, but it is a positively a must-see masterpiece. It is the 4th ranked Thing To Do in Bangkok on TripAdvisor with over 16,000 reviews. The Grand Palace complex is the official residence of the King of Thailand (formally Siam). The king departed in 1925, but the complex is still used today for official events. In fact, I visited the palace for the funeral of the much-admired King Rama IX in 2016. This complex dates back to the latter part of the 18th century and is located near the banks of the Chao Phraya.
Within the complex is Wat Phra Kaew known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This is the holiest of holiest sites in Bangkok as it is considered at the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. Construction of the temple began in 1783 under the orders of King Rama I, the first king of the current ruling dynasty. Over the generations, the temple complex has expanded and been embellished as kings endeavor to gain religious merit.
The focal point of this religious complex is the Ubosot. The Ubosot houses the Emerald Buddha, which was captured in 1779 from neighboring Vientiane, Laos. This meditating Buddha image is made of jade and clothed in real gold. Many official and important ceremonies take place here throughout the year.
Beyond the Ubosot there are many other temples and structures within the complex. The colors, the brilliance, the designs are exhilarating. It is effortless to wander around these brilliant temples for a couple of hours.
Visiting During Covid
I first visited the Grand Palace in 2005. I have revisited several times over the years to take in this impressive site. But I made a return visit in June of 2020. Over the years, the complex has been inundated with waves of tourists with approximately 30,000 visiting a day. Unfortunately, the large crowds detract from the experience of visiting. During the height of Covid, the temple was closed, but was reopened on June 4, 2020. The benefit? There were about 28,000 less visitors, making the visit a much richer experience.
Visitors are required to wear a facemask, sanitize your hands, and sign in upon entry and exit.
Dual Pricing And Tickets
One of the unfortunate sides of Thai tourism is dual pricing. Many monuments and parks throughout Thailand have two different prices; one for Thais and a second for foreigners. The Grand Palace is free for Thai people but foreigners will spend 500 Baht (about $15) a ticket. You may purchase tickets online here or buy at the Grand Palace. During Covid is not necessary to buy tickets beforehand, but could be recommended during normal times.
The Grand Palace opens at 8:30 am and I strongly encourage you to visit at the opening time. There will be less people and the heat will not be as oppressive. You must dress appropriately when visiting meaning no shorts/tank tops, etc. I was even told on my recent visit that I could not wear sunglasses or even a hat. If you do show up in shorts, the palace will provide a wrap for you to wear.
Visiting Grand Palace Bangkok