And here I thought I had seen all the gold I could possibly see when I visited Dubai, where by the way, they have ATMs with gold bullion. Well, visiting Bangkok had a whole host of surprises for us. More specifically the Grand Palace of Bangkok. Built in 1792 during the reign of King Rama I, to be the royal residence of the Thai King. It comprises several buildings including the Royal Chapel of the Emerald Buddha as well as offices and living areas. For about 150 years, Bangkok's Grand Palace was not only the home of the King and his court but the administrative seat of the government in its entirety. Thai Royalty stopped residing full-time by the 20th century but the Grand Palace still remains an important building, used for ceremonial purposes mainly and very much the seat of power at the heart of Thailand.
As a must see when visiting Bangkok, prepare for the crowds and add to that the heat and you have one sweaty visit. To avoid that though either visit early in the day of after 2pm when the heat is not as intense and the crowds, although still there, are perhaps not as crazy. Before you even enter the premises, you can see some of the gold leaf buildings peeking from the high walls. The internal buildings are a mix of styles combining European architecture, traditional Thai roof tiles and spires, as well as a neo-renaissance style. The attention to detail is just amazing! I can just imagine how long the it took the workers to build, carve and sculpt. From the tiles, to the statues that are clad in colourful outfits if not plastered in gold leaf. As beautiful as it is it makes you think about how we as humans place so much importance on material things. It is quite thought-provoking and definitely worth a visit when you visit Bangkok.
- Don't fall for the fake tour guides who will tell you that the place is closed and only they can help you get in.
- Dress code. They have a strict dress code of no shorts for both men and women. No sleeveless clothes, no see through clothes, no bare shoulders or bare feet and no belly bearing clothes either. If you make the mistake thinking that they will understand because it's hot you will either be turned away or made to borrow clothes from their local shop at the entrance. You will need to bring cash for this as a deposit is required. Thankfully I made my boyfriend park a pair of trousers having insisted that his knee length shorts would be ok.
- Entrance fee for tourists is 500 bhat but bring additional cash just in case you need to buy water to stay hydrated or if you need to leave a deposit for any clothes if your clothes are deemed not suitable.
- Audio guides are available at 100 bhat and will require a passport or credit card to secure return.
We were staying on the other side of town, while the Grand Palace is right by the river. Getting a taxi or Tuk Tuk is easy but make sure you ask for the price, negotiate or ask them to put the meter on(taxis only). This will mean you can avoid being taken for a ride(see what I did there), as some drivers have been known to overcharge to unsuspecting tourists. Depending on where you are staying you can also take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin and then take the Chao Phraya River Express Boat.
So have you been to Bangkok, yet?