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One of the most popular attractions in Thailand is the Grand Palace Bangkok. It’s the official residence of the Thai Royal Family and is a huge complex full of golden temples, jewel-encrusted shrines, and stunning architecture.
If it’s your first time visiting the city, you will need to make sure you make a stop here.
But the Grand Palace in Bangkok may not be for everyone. It’s busy and hot, and compared to other attractions in Bangkok, quite expensive for foreigners.
So is the Grand Palace worth it and what is there to see? In this complete guide to the Grand Palace, we’ll be sharing everything you need to know about visiting this cultural gem in Bangkok.
Is the Grand Palace worth it Bangkok?
If it’s your first time in Bangkok, the Grand Palace is definitely worth visiting. The complex is one of the oldest in the city, having been built in 1782, making it one of the most important historical attractions in Bangkok. It’s also the official residence of the Thai Royal Family.
The complex has several temples, museums, and stunning buildings to witness, including the Wat Phra Kaeo or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, so you have lots to see and explore.
It’s at least a half-day activity, so definitely worth spending some time here. We have it included on our 3 Day itinerary for Bangkok.
Is the Grand Palace in Bangkok free?
For Thai people, it’s free admission, but for tourists, you have to pay a fee for your tickets.
As of November 2022, the price to enter the Grand Palace was 500 baht for foreigners (around $14 USD).
The entrance fees include Wat Phra Kaew, The Royal Thai Decorations and Coins Pavilion, and the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile.
Things to See in the Grand Palace
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 meters.
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.
Inside the complex, you have several buildings, shrines, and temples to see. The Dusit Maha Prasat Palace was used as an audience hall and is located adjacent to The Piman Rattaya Throne Hall.
Behind this, is the Buddha Ratanasathan, a small museum in the complex with stunning artworks and relics.
On the other side of the complex you have the Wat Phra Kaew Museum and of course the Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha in English.
Behind the Wat Phra Kaew is the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.
Top tip: while you’re in the area, walk across the road to visit Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. This is one of Bangkok’s other top attractions.
Our Experience of 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 royal residences of the Kings of Thailand since construction began under King Rama Ι way back in 1782 (except for King Rama V who chose to live elsewhere in the city.
It was thought that King Rama I moved the royal court from Thonburi on the West to the east of Bangkok for protection, which explains the fort-like walls around the complex.
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.
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 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.
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.
HOT TIP: 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.
Read more about our travel with kids tips here.
Getting to The Grand Palace
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.
Alternatively, you can take the MRT to Sam Yot Station and walk for about 15-20 minutes.
Another option is to take a taxi all the way from your origin. Make sure the driver turns on the meter — this is the law in Bangkok but they often don’t do this and then charge whatever they like at the end.
Use Bolt or Grab for a cheaper rate and to agree on a price beforehand.
Plan ahead as traffic in Bangkok can be horrendous.
What is the Dress Code for the Grand Palace?
Though the royal palace is not a temple, it is treated as such. A strict dress code still applies, especially for women.
- Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves (no tank tops, vests, or sleeveless shirts. 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, or tight-clinking clothes. Make sure you have your knees and shoulders covered.
If you show up improperly dressed there is a booth near the entrance that can provide clothes and wraparounds to cover you up properly (for a deposit).
And if you think they are relaxed about this, think again. If you’re wearing a long skirt that covers your knees but it has a slit up one side, they will tie it together for you with an elastic band.
This is a rule that is always enforced, so be sure to dress politely or bring a sarong. Better yet, just wear trousers.
Video of The Grand Palace:
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Before You Go
The Grand Palace is a must-see attraction in Bangkok for any first-time visitor. The sheer size, elegance, craftsmanship, and intricate detail that goes into the architecture is incredible to see.
Our guide Tim says “Every visitor to Bangkok should see the Grand Palace.” And we agree.
It’s crowded, it’s hot, and your younger children may temporarily lose it, but it’s completely worth it.
No visit to Bangkok would be complete without visiting the city’s most famous landmark.
Disclaimer: Our trip to Thailand is hosted by Tourism Thailand, but all the thoughts, ideas, and opinions in this guide are our own.
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Have you visited the Grand Palace in Bangkok? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.