Abdul Muqeet Waheed
Bangkok, the capital and the largest city of Thailand, is situated about 25 miles (40 km) from the Gulf of Thailand on the delta of the Chao Phraya River. Ornate temples and a thriving street life may be seen throughout this busy city. Visitors are not instantly made to feel welcome by the city’s sluggish nightlife, blazing heat, and high traffic congestion.
When I entered, you were greatly impressed by the vastness and popularity of what is Thailand’s most holy site and compound of shrines, royal rooms, and government houses as soon as you arrived outside the palace walls and inside the gates.
At the ticket counter, the first bombshell occurs. 500 Baht, or around £11.50 at the time of writing, is not much money in Western terms for foreigners. Thai nationals are granted free entrance. Children under 120 cm are also allowed for free. It is split into four main courts, the Outer Court, the Middle Court, the Inner Court, and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which are all separated from one another by various gates and walls.
As I reach the palace, it’s overcrowded and sweltering, and tour groups are lining up left and right, excited to see the royal house of Thailand’s Kings. It took me half an hour to get out of the crowd. This area is noisy. I have been in Bangkok for a week and am comfortable with city life, yet this took us off guard.
I entered a world where people use selfie sticks as weapons, kids as body shields, and personal space is only spoken in the past tense, similar to how playing jacks is a talent that people used to have but no longer bother with. But I do know that number has increased significantly today. It was challenging to move over than a few inches without becoming part of a tour group row, the subject of a couple of selfies, or an additional in a mini-photo session.
The Emerald Buddha is one of the Grand Palace’s most notable features. But, before you get to the biggest draw, you’ll pass by the Yakshas or temple guards. The 20-foot-tall, enormous demon guardians, also known as nature spirits, are easy to see.
This Emerald Buddha statue, which is around 600 years old, has witnessed a lot throughout the years. It spent time in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, crossed into Laos for a while, hung out in Luang Prabang and Vientiane, traveled to Bangkok in the late 1700s for a five-year stay at Wat Arun, and then settled down at this location at Wat Phra Kaew in 1784. That’s a long journey.
I think it’s hard for me to judge because I add to the problem! Since I am neither Thai nor a Buddhist, this location does not have the same significance for me as it does for the millions of people who come here on a trip. The bulk of those present in this area, however, were really from huge tour groups that had been shuttled into the Grand Palace as part of a quick tour of Bangkok.
And if you do need a little break from the bustle, the interesting “Temple of the Emerald Buddha” museum, which is situated in the northeast of the complex, was virtually empty. Housing rows and rows of tiny Buddha statues, the Manangasila Seat, where Ramkhamhaeng, the illustrious ruler of Sukhothai in the 1300s, is said to have sat and instructed his subjects, and some fascinating model-village style displays of the Grand Palace area showcasing the area’s evolution over time.
Although you might disagree after reading the foregoing, I hate to sound cynical, but if visitors were truly interested in seeing this historic site, a visit to the museum would be the ideal way to round off their journey. Instead, they move around, phones in hand, on a loop of tours meant to make it appear as though they have visited Bangkok, while in fact, they have only visited another landmark.
I’ll wrap up the way I started. It would feel incomplete to travel to Bangkok without seeing the Grand Palace.
After you’ve finished, go straight outside, take the boat over to Wat Arun, and take a taste of authentic Bangkok—which is thankfully out of the coaches’ reach.
WAY TO Get THROUGH TO THE GRAND PALACE -Details On TOUR
Instruction: Go straight to Saphan Taskin Station on the BTS Skytrain. Take the Chao Phraya River Express boat from there to Chang Pier, then stroll a short distance to the main entrance of the Grand Palace.
HOURS: The Grand Palace is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
ENTRANCE FEE: You must pay an entrance fee of 500 baht to enter Wat Phra Kaew, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion, the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, and the Vimanmek Mansion Museum.
SPECIAL NOTE: You must spend an extra 100 baht if you want to rent a personal audio tour in English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, or Mandarin.
As you approach one of Bangkok’s holiest locations, please always be respectful and polite and wear suitable clothing. The following things are prohibited:
- Tight-fitting pants, denim shorts or quarter-length pants, fisherman’s pants, and shorts
- sleeveless or see-through shirts
- sandals or slippers without straps
- sleeves with a roll
- Pajamas, windcheaters, sweatshirts, and trousers
Bring a large bottle of water with you to stay hydrated as you cannot purchase water inside the Grand Palace. In addition to the hot and muggy weather in Bangkok, the large number of visitors will undoubtedly raise the temperature. Additionally, being cool and dressed appropriately will keep you.