“Everyone visits the Grand Palace in Bangkok”
Tim, our local guide, was explaining to us on the ride over that the Grand Palace is at the top of the list for first time visitors to Bangkok.
It’s true, and I had already known and experienced this on my own first visit ten years ago. But today was different. We were repeat visitors, and not travelling as a couple, but as parents with Kalyra and Savannah on their first visit to Bangkok.
The moment you arrive outside the palace walls and enter the gates you are quickly struck by the sheer size and popularity of what is Thailand’s most sacred site and complex of temples, throne halls and Government residences.
As we enter the complex it’s crowded, it’s hot, and tour groups are justling left and right excited to enter the official residence of the Kings of Thailand since construction began under King Rama Ι way back in 1782.
Yes, it took us about five seconds to be reminded that this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand and would be a REAL introduction to Thai history and life for our kids.
The Grand Palace complex is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and is surrounded by four walls with a combined area of 218,400 square metres.
It’s divided into four main courts, separated by numerous walls and gates: the Outer Court, the Middle Court, the Inner Court and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
As we wandered the complex jostling with what seemed like the whole population of Bangkok trying to take photographs, Kalyra kept asking
When do I get to meet the Buddha?
“Soon darling. Let’s just take our time and take it all in. I know it’s hot and crowded but please be patient and stay close to Mummy and Daddy.”
Kalyra is great traveller, and has been fortunate to experience many things in her five years, but sometimes struggles in big crowds and was just holding it togethor. Meanwhile, miss Savannah was taking it all in from the comfort of her stroller.
Everywhere you turn, in every courtyard and at every bend, the beauty of the place amazes and takes your breath away. I remember being very impressed on that first visit in 2002 and this second visit was no less mesmirizing.
I even captured this shot of a monk looking mesmirized.
The statues and buildings are huge.
Kalyra is just dwarfed by this entry way
Along with the sheer size comes the details and craftmanship
We’d been exploring the complex for maybe an hour or so and the question of “when do I get to see the Buddha” continued and Kalyra became increasingly restlessless, which was totally understandable given the trying conditions.
Soon it came time to witness the worshipers lighting candles and sticks of incense in a ritual which they raise to their head while bowing.
Tired and independent Kalyra was having none of the help suggested by Mummy and Daddy and totally lost it when it was explained that NO she couldn’t carry out this ritual by herself and she needed to step aside and respect the locals.
Nothing like having your five year old lose it at the most sacred temple in Thailand
But we all regained our composure, after a five minute time out, and carried on with the rest of the proceedings, including a visit with the Buddha.
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If you’re a travelling family, and you have just arrived in a new country late the previous night after a long flight, make the first day a free day! Don’t plan any activities. Allow your kids to adjust to the time zone and the environment. Don’t be like us and drag them to a hot and crowded environment. More travel with kids tips.
At the end of the day we had an incredible time visiting the Grand Palace as a family.
Besides the experience of showing our kids this important and sacred place for Thai people, the locals absolutely adored both Kalyra and Savannah (must have been the blonde hair blue eyed novelty) and couldn’t stop taking photos with us.
A happier Kalyra after finally seeing Buddha inside the temple.
- The easiest and most enjoyable route is to take the BTS Skytrain to “Saphan Taksin” Station. From here take a Chao Phraya River Express boat to Tha Chang Wang Luang Pier. It is a short walk from the pier to the entrance.
- Another option is take a taxi all the way from your origin. Make sure the driver turns on the meter — this is the law in Bangkok. Plan ahead as traffic in Bangkok can be horendous.
A strict dress code applies.
- Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves (no tank tops. If you’re wearing sandals or flip-flops you must wear socks (in other words, no bare feet.)
- Women must be similarly modestly dressed. No see-through clothes, bare shoulders, etc.
If you show up improperly dressed there is a booth near the entrance that can provide clothes to cover you up properly (for a deposit).
As our guide Tim stated, and we can confirm
Every visitor to Bangkok should see the Grand Palace.
It’s crowded, it’s hot, and your younger children may temporarily lose it, but no visit to Bangkok would be complete without visiting the city’s most famous landmark.
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Disclaimer: Our trip to Thailand is hosted by Tourism Thailand