The Grand Palace, Bangkok
The Grand Palace has an area of 218,400 sq. metres and is surrounded by walls built in 1782. The length of the four walls is 1,900 metres. Within these walls are situated government offices and the Chapel Royal of the Emerald Buddha besides the royal residences.
When Siam restored law and order after the fall of Ayutthaya the monarch lived in Thonburi on the west side of the river. Rama I, on ascending the throne, moved the centre of administration to this side of the Chao Phraya; and after erecting public monuments such as fortifications and monasteries, built a palace to serve not only as his residence but also his offices--the various ministries, only one of which remains in the palace walls.
This palace came to be known as The Grand Palace, in which the earliest edifices contemporary with the foundation of Bangkok were the two groups of residences named the Dusit Maha Prasat and the Phra Maha Monthian.
Bangkok Sea Shell Museum
Bangkok Sea Shell Museum is located on Silom Road next to Soi Silom 23, opposite the Lerdsin Hospital. It is created from the intention of a sea shell collector and two-time winner on sea shells of the "Faen Phan Thae"(real fan) TV programme, Mr.Somwang Patthamakhanthin and Ms. Oraphin Sirirat who has loved sea shells since her childhood. It is a three-storey building, exhibiting different kinds of sea shells; such as, giant sea shells and sea shells of bivalve molluscs in beautiful colours from every corner of the world, rarely found sea shells of Hoi Bia (marine shells in the family of Cypraeidea) and cones that can kill a human by only attacking with its poisonous dart, as well as shells of land snails and freshwater mollsces. In addition, there is a display of unusual sea urchins and an exhibition of artwork about sea shells. The museum is open daily from 10.00 a.m.- 9.00 p.m. to the general public to get more knowledge about sea shells. Admission is 200 Baht per person.
The National Museum
A visit to the National Museum reveals the history of Thailand And how people lived during the different periods. It gives you a view through the windows of the past. The National Museum, located on the opposite side of Sanam Luang to The Grand Palace, was established in 1887 by King Rama V. The foundation collection was previously stored at The Grand Palace. The original building was formerly the palace of a vice-ruler.
King Rama VII placed it under the administration of the Royal Institute of Literature, Archeology and Fine Arts which has evolved to be the Fine Arts Department.
New buildings were constructed in 1967 and other historical buildings relocated to the museum grounds. The Buddhaisawan Chapel was built in 1787 to enshrine a revered northern Buddha image called Phra Buddha Si Hing. The interior has exceptional murals, while the building itself is a fine example of Rattanakosin religious architecture.
Tamnak Daeng is another building that has been moved to the Museum. This Red House was originally the residence of an elder sister of King Rama I. Furniture and other items from early Bangkok times. The National Museum collection encompasses a wide range of religious and secular art found throughout the country. Items from pre-historic times, through the Srivijaya, Dvaravati, Khmer Kingdoms and the Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin periods of Thai history.
These include Neolithic tools, painted pots and bronze objects unearthed in the northeast. Thai Buddhist art exhibits feature images in stone, bronze and terracotta as well as illustrated scripture books manuscript cabinets and votive plaques.
The Museum also has a large collection of miscellaneous items such as Thai and Chinese ceramics, theatrical costumes, palanquins, weapons and assorted items used in royal households.
Guided tours are given free by volunteers in English and French starting at 9.30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tours are also given in German on Thursdays and in Japanese on Wednesdays of the first & the third week of each month. Guided tours in some other languages can be arranged.
How to get there : The most enjoyable route is to take the BTS Skytrain to Taksin Station. From here take a Chao Phraya River Express boat to Tha Phrachan Pier. Walk straight from the pier to Sanam Luang Park and turn left past Thammasat University to the museum. By Bus No. 3, 6, 9, 15, 19, 30, 32, 33, 43, 53, 59, 64, 65, 70, 80, 84 Air Condition Bus No. 3, 6, 7, 38, 39, 80, 82, 91 Airport Bus No. A2
Opening hours : Wednesday to Sunday from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
Admission fee : 40 baht
Contact : The National Museum Bangkok Na Phrthat Rd., Phra Borommaharachawang Sub-district, Phra Nakorn District, Bangkok.
Nearby Places/Attractions: Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew), Phra Athit Road, Khaosan Road
Royal Barge National Museum
The Royal Barge Procession is one of the most spectacular events in the world. It is performed occasionally during the Tod Kathin Buddhist Festival when H.M. The King delivers new robes to the monks at Wat Arun. It was also seen by millions of viewers around the world when it was specially staged for the 2003 APEC Conference in Bangkok and broadcast live to the participating countries.
These ornately decorated boats are maintained by the Royal Thai Navy and docked at The Royal Barge National Museum on Bangkok Noi canal on the Thonburi side.
The most impressive and important boat is the Kings personal barge, Suphanahong which was built in 1911. It is 46 metres in length hewn from a single tree and covered with intricate gilt carvings and colourful pieces of glass. The design is representative of a mythical swan. The crew consists of 54 oarsmen who paddle in time to the rhythmic beat of a drummer.
The Royal Barge fleet consists of 52 vessels. Each is a masterpiece of marine and traditional craftsmanship. They feature a variety of figureheads on their bows, including a sacred Garuda, Hanuman and the seven heads of Naga.
In formation the fleet travels in rows five abreast and more than one kilometer from the leading barge to those at the rear. These are propelled by 2,082 specially trained naval personnel. A visit to The Royal Barge National Museum will give you an insight into the colourful culture of Thailand.
How to get there : by Chao Phraya Ferry cross the river at Tha Pra Chan Pier near Thammasat University to Bangkok Noi (Thonburi) Train Station Pier or by chartered boat from Tha Chang Pier.
Open daily : 9 am. - 5 pm.
Admission : 30 baht
The temple is located on Fuang Nakhon Road near Wat Pho. Built by King Rama V in 1869, it was in keeping with tradition that each monarch constructed a temple to mark his reign. The temple is a mixture of local and western styles, showing an awakening interest in new ideas and a desire to experiment with them. The exterior of the chapel is in the Thai style, but the interior is decorated in the European style.
Open Daily : from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission : Free
Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing
A visit to Wat Suthat Thep Wararam, situated almost in the center of old Bangkok, gives you an opportunity to see both the Giant Swing and one of the first-class Royal temples. The surrounding area is also worth exploring as there are many shops selling religious items. The building of the temple was commissioned by King Rama I, the founder of Bangkok, in 1807. Its location in the center of Rattanakosin Island. This was in keeping with the Buddhist belief that it is like Mount Phra Sumeru being the center of the universe. Phra Sri Sakayamunee, the principal Buddha image, was moved from Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai to be placed in Phra Wihan Luang in Wat Suthat in 1808.
Wat Suthat is surrounded by an impressive wall 1.94 metres high and 0.85 metres thick. There are a total of 15 doorways leading into the temple compound. Within the temple grounds the most important building is the Phra Wihan Luang which is the Royal Temple. The mural paintings, covering all the interior walls are some of the finest to be seen anywhere. Each has stone inscriptions describing the pictures. Surrounding the Royal Temple is Phra Wihan Khot terrace which is really impressive with 156 Buddha statues, mostly in the seated meditative attitude called Smathi. The chapel, Phra Ubosot at Wat Suthat is possibly the most beautiful in Thailand and is also the largest measuring 72.25 metres in length and 22.60 metres in width. There are four pavilions (sala) within the compound that are elevated to the height of the temples walls. These are used for various royal functions and for viewing the previous functions at the Giant Swing in front of the temple. The annual ceremony was held up until the 1930s but was discontinued to the high fatality rate as young men tried to swing high enough to grab a sack of gold on a pole about 25 metres in the air.
How to get there : Bus routes 12, 15, 42, 73, 96, 508
Open daily : 8.30 am. to 9.00 pm.
Admission fee : Baht 20
Make sure you set aside one late afternoon to see and photograph this imposing sight at sunset with the Chao Phraya River in the foreground. These photographs will bring back beautiful memories of Bangkok.
The temple was built during the Ayutthaya period and was originally called Wat Makok after the name of the local village Tambol Bangmakok. It means "Village of Olives".
Wat Arun gets its name from Aruna, the Indian god of the dawn, hence its common name The Temple of Dawn. The location of the temple is in the area that used to be occupied by the palace of King Taksin who re-established the Siamese Kingdom after the fall of Ayuttaya more than two hundred years ago. The main Buddha image is believed to have been designed by King Rama II.
Wat Arun, often called The Temple of Dawn, is one of the most remarkable visual identities of Bangkok. The imposing Khmer-style prang or tower is 67 metres tall and decorated with bits of porcelain that was used as ballast by boats coming from China. It is surrounded by four smaller prangs. Construction of the prangs were started by King Rama II and completed by King Rama II.
The central balcony is an ideal spot for looking across the river to The Grand Palace and The Temple of The Emerald Buddha. Each year at the end of the three-month lent period for Buddhist monks, H. M. The King or his appointed representative travels down river in a Royal Barge Procession to present new robes to the monks. This ceremony is called Royal Tod Kathin.
How to get there : Bus routes 19, 57, 83
Open daily : 7.30 am. to 5.30 pm.
Admission fee : Baht 20
Situated on Thiam Ruammit Road off Ratchadaphisek Road, about 100 metres from the Thailand Culutral Center. Siam Niramit is a one-of-a-kind cultural theme complex offerring a world-class spectacular performance in a 2000-seat theatre. The 80-minute show features 3 stories of Thailand’s cultural heritage: Journey Back into History, Journey Beyond Imagination: The Three Realms and Journey Through Joyous Festivals, with the magic of state-of-the-art technology and special effects. The show starts nightly at 8 pm. but visitors should arrive at 7 pm. to join a free guided tour to a Thai village in the compound. Restuarants and souvenir shops are also available. Tickets cost 1,500 baht per person.
How to get there: taking MRT or subway to Thailand Cultural Centre MRT Station
Bangkok Art and Culture Center
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) is under the supervision of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre Foundation, set up by the City of Bangkok.
The BACC is a new mid-town facility for the contemporary arts. Programmes for art, music, theatre, film, design, and cultural/educational events take place in a friendly and recreational atmosphere - with cafe, restaurants,bookshops, and an art library being part of the facility. The BACC aims to create a meeting place for artists, to provide cultural programmes for the community giving importance to cultural continuity from past to contemporary. It aims to open new grounds for cultural dialogue, networking, and create new cultural resources from both the public and the private sectors.
For more information: call 0 2214 6630-1 or visit www.bacc.or.thOpening hours Tuesday - Sunday 10 am.-9 pm. (Close on Monday)Admission Free (except for special events)
How to get there: Non-airconditioned bus nos. 15, 16, 21, 25, 29, 34, 36, 40, 47, 48, 50, 54, 73, 79, 93, 141, 159 and 204 Air-conditioned Bus no. 501, 508 and 529 BTS Sky Train - get off at National Stadium Station. Car - proceed to the entrance on Phayathai Road.