Built in 1782, the palace was commissioned by the former King Rama I, who founded the Chakri Dynasty of Thailand. Although the palace is no longer the official administrative seat of government or the home of the King of Thailand, the original buildings used for these purposes still stand and can be toured during your visit.
Over the centuries since it was first built, the palace grounds have been well maintained, with particular care taken to preserve and restore the palace’s extensive frescoes. Thailand’s most sacred site, the Emerald Buddha Temple , is located between the palace walls, as are many other important buildings where you can have the opportunity to experience first-hand a piece of Thai history. For details on everything you need to see when you get here, take a look at our list of top tourist attractions inside the Grand Palace.
Things to See at Grand Palace
1. Temple of the Emerald Buddha / Wat Phra Kaeo
This sacred place is easily recognizable by the two imposing demonic figures guarding the entrance. The statues, gifts from Chinese merchants, stand guard at the gate of the beautiful temple. Those “brave enough” to pass through the demons face a circle of frescoes depicting the epic poem by Ramakien , which recounts the work of the gods and their relationship with humanity. Inside the gold-tiled chedi, known as Phra Si Ratana, is a relic that (according to tradition) is either a piece of bone or hair of the enlightened Buddha.
Inside the bot, the exquisite statue of a meditating Buddha – made entirely of semi-precious stone jade and dressed in golden robes – stands just 66 centimetres tall and rests on a tall plinth beneath a nine-level dome. Scholars believe the figure was carved at Pataliputra in India, although other sources claim it is from Burma and the work of an unknown artist. It first came to light in 1434 at Chiang Rai, in northern Thailand, after arriving there via Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Cambodia.
At the time of its discovery, the statue was encased in plaster. During transport, the casing was damaged and torn, revealing the figure inside. The Buddha travelled extensively to arrive in Bangkok in 1778, where it has been kept ever since. Three times a year, the king changes the Buddha’s robes during a special ceremony to mark the start of a new season.
2. Phra Mondop
Behind Phra Sri Ratana is Phra Mondop-a building made of tiny mosaics of green and gold glass, a gilded belfry and pure silver floors-which serves as the Palace library. This golden building contains the Buddha Canon-sacred scriptures written on palm leaf-as well as a number of Buddhist publications and ancient literature.
While the building remains closed to the public and you won’t be able to catch a glimpse of the sacred texts, the outside view of the beautiful mother-of-pearl doors, dragon images and Ayutthaya-style architecture is something extraordinary and worth a stop.
3. Ho Phra Parit
Originally, this unique hall was created specifically for the use of monks, who gathered here daily to create holy water and then sprinkle it throughout the palace. In times of war, the water was also used to ‘enhance’ the power of weapons through a special ceremony performed here. While the practice of creating holy water was discontinued in the 1920s, the ceremony is still performed during Buddhist holy days.
Ho Phra Parit is divided into two rooms, with the larger one used for prayers and rituals and the smaller one used for storing religious objects.
4. Prasat Phra Debidorn
The Prasat Phra Debidorn building, also known as the Royal Pantheon, contains life-size statues of the kings of the Chakri dynasty. The building was originally designed to house the Emerald Buddha, but these plans were abandoned when the resulting structure was deemed too small.
Getting a glimpse of the kings will be difficult, however – the interior is only open to the general public once a year, on Chakri Day (6 April). Luckily, the outside of the pantheon is just as famous thanks to the two golden pagodas and the array of colourful, larger demons that guard the building! A great spot for photos!
5. Angkor Wat
Although nothing beats the grandeur of the real Angkor Wat in Cambodia , this perfect replica of the Khmer-style temple is well worth a visit. Although much smaller than the real one, the stone model offers an interesting history lesson and a glimpse into the original temple as it was designed. The model dates back to the reign of Rama IV, when present-day Cambodia was a vassal state of Siam.
The mini Angkor Wat is located directly opposite the Emerald Buddha temple and you can easily miss it if you don’t look for it. Surrounded by colourful, ornate buildings, the simple design of this grey sand model provides a remarkable contrast that is worth seeing.
6. Boromabiman Hall
Boromabiman Hall is the official name of the building overlooking the lawns where the annual party in the King’s garden was held. The murals inside depict the four Indian gods (Indra, Yahuma, Varuna and Agni) as guardians of the universe. On the tablets below are inscribed the ten royal virtues: liberality, propriety, readiness for sacrifice, leniency, modesty, conscientiousness, freedom from anger, freedom from suspicion, patience and right conduct.
Since the time of Rama VI, all the successors have grown up here. Today the building is used only occasionally, usually to host visiting heads of state or high-ranking Buddhist officials.
7. The Grand Chakri Palace
Although is no longer the royal residence (the current monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, has been living in the Amhorn Sathan Residential Hall inside Bangkok’s Dusit Palace since 2016, when he inherited the throne after his father’s death), the Grand Chakri Palace is still something special to see.
The house was originally designed by an English architect in the Italian Renaissance style, but King Rama V ordered it to be decorated with typical stepped roofs and mondhop. While the design makes the building stand out from its surroundings, it also makes it look more regal and important. In addition to the richness of their interiors, all rooms in the palace are treasured with precious paintings and portraits of every Thai king.
8. Phra Thinang Amarin Winitchai
This is the ‘High Residence’ – essentially a throne room where King Rama I once paid homage. The room is still used today, often for ceremonies involving heads of state or for future coronation anniversary celebrations of the current king. You can see a peristyle in front of the building, where royal proclamations used to be read.
Inside, the golden throne, in the shape of a boat, is the focal point. Directly in front of it is a giant, regal, nine-tiered umbrella, representing the king’s prestige and power. Royal umbrellas can have anywhere from five levels (for an heir) to nine for a sovereign king.
9. Dusit Maha Prasat
The single large inner hall of this building, which is open to visitors, was originally the audience chamber of Rama I. Here, the king welcomed his guests, seated not on the large throne seen today, but higher up on a throne that looked like a niche in the wall of the south wing. On the ceiling, a belfry designed to resemble the king’s crown adds a royal touch to this Italian Renaissance meets Thai traditional hall.
While the furniture in the interior is original for the time of the building’s construction, the frescoes were painted in a later period. There is also a second inlaid pearl throne here, used by the king when he was away or taking a break….!
Bangkok, Thailand! The Grand Palace…!
10. Aphorn Phimok Prasat
When you leave the Dusit Maha Prasat, the thin golden wooden pavilion in front is the Aphorn Phimok Prasat, used by Rama I. Here, the king would change before entering the audience hall and then again after exiting. Around the pillars of the pavilion were curtains woven with golden thread, while the king wore his ceremonial robes.
This pavilion was also used to park the king’s palanquin, a form of transport that moves with one passenger – basically a large box or seat carried by six porters on long columns. Before a ceremony, the king would change inside the Dusit Maha Prasat before leaving in the palanquin to join the festivities.
Tours at the Grand Palace
Are you thrilled by all you can see and do within the walls of the Grand Palace? Let a professional guide take you to see Bangkok’s top attractions, including the most important buildings of the Grand Palace, on a six-hour Bangkok city tour, Best of Bangkok .
At 7:30 am, a dedicated driver will pick you up directly at your hotel in an air-conditioned vehicle. From there, you’ll be taken directly to Wat Traimit in Chinatown, home to the world’s largest (and heaviest at 5.5 tons) seated golden Buddha. You’ll then continue a walking tour of Chinatown’s wooden shops and make another stop at the shrine dedicated to Kuan Yin, the Chinese goddess of mercy.
Your next stop is at the Grand Palace, where your guide will take you on a tour of the grounds-including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha; the giant demon guardians that protect the entrance to the temple and Phra Siratana Chedi, a golden bell-shaped stupa-before heading to Wat Pho, just south of the Palace Complex. Here, you’ll see the giant reclining Buddha, a magnificent 46-metre-long golden statue.
You’ll finish the tour at a restaurant overlooking the Chao Phraya River, where you can enjoy a traditional Thai lunch before retiring to your hotel.
Hours and tickets
Opening hours: 8:30am – 15:30pm daily. The Grand Palace does not close for national or religious holidays, but may close on very rare occasions during special royal ceremonies.
Entrance: the standard entrance ticket includes access to Wat Phra Kaeo, the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles and The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online at the Palace’s official website to bypass the long queues. If purchasing online, please note that tickets must be purchased at least 24 hours before your visit and must be picked up in person at a special window near the Palace entrance.
There is an extra charge for renting an audio guide in various foreign languages such as English, German, French, Spanish, Russian and others.
Visitors can enter the palace through the Wiseedtschairi Gate (“Gate of Great Victory”), beyond which a wide road leads to the outer courtyard. On either side are modern buildings housing government offices. The ticket office is located at the beginning of the road leading to the palace courtyard.