Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Grand Palace (Bangkok, Thailand)

Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew) Bangkok, Thailand

This is a working palace for the Thai King Rama IX (His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej) and appropriate dress is required for entry. Closed-toe shoes (e.g., no sandals), no shorts nor short sleeve shirts.

Best to start out early.

RATANA KOSIN AREA (w/Grand Palace) Formal name of the old city Palace Area and with some of the temples. Coin pavillion includes Emerald Buddha's clothes.

a. Reclining Buddha at WAT - After finishing here, take a taxi to the Grand Palace. (Yes, it's close but first you have to figure out the right direction and then you have to walk pretty far with an intense sun.)

b. Grand Palace (WAT PHRA KAEO) (Open 8.30am-3.30pm)
Enter via Thanon Na Phra Lan (closest river exit is the Chang Pier #6) entry for the Palace is 200B (includes entry to the Vianmek teak palace by the zoo). Best to pay for a tour guide or else you'll just see a bunch of buildings. But these are the most photographed buildings in Thailand with elaborate peaks. Don't forget to study the Buddhist murals on the walls and to inspect the mock-up of Cambodia's Angkor Wat. At the end of the tour, go back out to the entrance and look for the coin pavallion where they also house the clothing for the Emerald Buddha.

After you finish, you could take a taxi to the largest all-teak building in the world VIANMEK MANSION. Compulsory free tours every 1/2 hr (last one at 15:15).

c. For lunch - I'd suggest either taking a taxi or the river boat (to Phra Athit pier) and walking along the temple around the backpacker road called Khao San. Lots of outdoor cafes to relax, people-watch, eat and shop at the second-hand bookstores.

WAT BENCHAMABOPHIT (The Marble Temple) 69 Rama V Road, Chitralada, Corner of Sri Ayutthaya and Rama V Roads, Bangkok, 10300 Thailand DAILY: 0830-1730 Constructed by King Rama V in 1901 of white Carrana marble with European accents. There are over fifty different types of Buddha images from around Asia. Taxi to nearest Skytrain STN (Victory Monument - N3) and relax back at the hotel.

WAT TRAIMIT (Open 9am-5pm) Chinatown (Sampeng) 5.5-ton gold Buddha image in Chinatown's Wat Traimit temple can be easily reached by the Chao Phraya river taxi pier Tha Rachavongse (5) or thru the end-of-the-line on the underground MRT at the Hua Lamphong station. If by river, take a taxi to the temple. If by MRT, take the left exit (before going down the long tunnel to the railroad station). You'll come out above ground, and can see a small bridge on your left, then the main plaza and the half-dome shaped railroad station on your right. Go across the bridge and up Traimit street. The back entrance to the temple will be on your right.

WAT ARUN (Temple of the Dawn) on the river at sunrise. Open 7am-5pm via the Chao Phraya river Tha Tien pier.

TAILORS - see my post on SUGGESTED BANGKOK TAILORS because there's one near the Dusit Zoo.

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