Bangkok, Thailand : Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

15th December 2010. Written by Xin Li. Bangkok, Thailand December is apparently the best time to visit Thailand because the temperature is cooler and humidity is lower as well. However, the weather could still be a killer as the afternoons are ridiculously hot.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

Back to our Bangkok trip, the next stop after Wat Pho was the Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew (the Emerald Buddha Temple), the grand dame of Bangkok, a spot that no visitor to the “Venice of the East” would miss.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

The admission to the palace and temple cost 350 THB and opens from 0830 Hours to 1530 Hours DAILY (there are tuk tuk drivers or swindlers who will try to convince you that it is closed for the day). Measuring 218,400 square metres in area and surrounded by walls built in 1782, the sprawling complex was the seat of government after fall of Ayutthaya when King Rama I moved the center of administration to Rattanakosin area of Bangkok.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

The visit to the Grand Palace will start from the entrance of Wat Phra Kaew, (the Emerald Buddha Temple) the most revered temple in the kingdom by Thai people. The Emerald Buddla contrary to popular belief is actually made of petite jadeite (hence its emerald colour).

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

The Upper Terrace has many buildings that serves during functions with differing styles of architecture originating from the various reigns. Despite so, they are consistently traditional Thai with subtle differences.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

The first sights to welcome you upon entering the temple are the Phra Sri Rattana Chedi, housing the ashes of Buddha and Phra Mondop, a library known for its Ayutthaya style mother-of-pearl doors. This is then followed by the highlights of the Upper Terrace.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

The highlights of the Upper Terrace include the reliquary in the shape of a golden Chedi, the Repository of the Canon of Buddhism, a model of the Angkor Wat and the Royal Pantheon.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

I later found out that the Angkor Wat model, crafted by the Royal Command of King Mongkut (Rama IV) was meant as a reminder that the neighbouring state of Cambodia was once under the dominion of Thailand.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

Even with the huge tourist crowd, the immensity as well as the astonishing amount of details of the structures seemed to overwhelm them.

Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew


A notable feature of the temple is the murals which are painstakingly hand painted by artisans. We also got to witness the tedious process of restoring the fragile but important cultural treasure. The murals mentioned, is a pictorial representation of the well-known Ramakien, a Thai epic painted during the reign of King Rama I with 178 scenes. While it may be under shelter, these murals were exposed to the outside elements like wind and moisture (and not to mention hordes of tourists touching it or camera flashes) daily and hence require regular restoration.


Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew - Ramakien Mural Restoration


Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew - Chakri Maha Prasat Hall


Due to the intense heat of Bangkok afternoon weather, we were exhausted by the time we finished exploring the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and parts of the Grand Palace. We only caught a glimpse of the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall, designed by British architects as a royal residence of King Rama IV to commemorate the centennial of the Chakri dynasty. It has a mix of Italian and Thai architecture.


Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew


Despite its touristy status, the Grand Palace deserves a visit from anyone who visits Thailand or Bangkok. For a fan of architecture, the grand palace is a treasure trove for the architecture fanatic and a piece art that deserves at least a day of appreciation. It is also a must-see for history aficionados.


Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew


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