If you are in Bangkok and do not take the effort to visit the Grand Palace, trust me, you are missing something! If you belong to the clan of people who marvel at architecture, creativity and construction capabilities (without modern day science), you just have to spend a day admiring the Grand Palace – I insist, and I haven’t met anyone who was disappointed after visiting this site.
Here are eight things that you must keep in mind when you set out to visit the Grand Palace:
No sleeveless T-shirts that expose your shoulders or shorts that show your knees; no three-fourth pants either. The dress code to enter the palace is very well defined – shoulders and full legs to be covered. We saw guards stopping people for not being dressed appropriately.
Ladies, a shawl/sarong over your shoulders won’t do the job; you need a jacket if you are wearing a top with straps. However, if you do end up here and aren’t dressed – do not despair. There are plenty of little shops outside the palace that sell loose harem pants and T-shirts …one size fits all.
As per rules, you need to wear covered shoes while you are in the palace compound. Shoes without straps or flip flops are not allowed. Carry a pair of socks that cover your ankle if you are in doubt. However, we did not see anyone being pulled out for wearing ‘inappropriate footwear’. We would recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes which keep your feet snug and comfortable. Exploring the palace well means taking a walking tour of at least four hours.
Bangkok is hot and humid. We have been to the city thrice, and its always felt similar. Needless to say, it is important to carry a bottle of water. There are only a couple of shops inside the Palace complex, which charge a premium on the printed price. It is best to carry a bottle of water or some juice which is easily available outside the main gate.
Don’t Skip a Meal
We reached the Palace at 10 am, straight from Bangkok airport. We were sleep deprived and hungry. Our enthusiasm to visit the Palace took us right there, on an empty stomach. We assumed that there would be cafes inside the premises. Well, there are none…and we realised this after we had paid for our entrance ticket and could not go out. There was just one little shop near the ticket counter that helped us placate our rumbling tummies with some fresh fruits, cakes and croissants…very few options for us vegetarian souls.
Carry Local Currency in Cash
The entrance ticket to the Grand Palace costs THB 500 and can be purchased at the entrance by paying cash. Credit cards weren’t accepted when we went. Suggest carrying local currency the entrance tickets, food and water.
Take a Guided Tour
We would highly recommend taking a guided tour: the electronic audio guide or the authorised tour guide – the choice is yours. You are provided with a m ap and a one page synopsis of the important points in the Palace. There are hardly any signs or displays to take you through.
The audio guide can be rented near the ticket window by paying THB 200 per audio set for 2 hours. You need to keep your passport/credit card as security deposit.
We preferred taking a tour guide, who took THB 700 to take five of us around the Palace and Temple of Emerald Buddha within two hours. If your bargaining skills are good, you may be able to strike a deal with the guide at ~THB 550-THB 600. Make sure you speak to him/her before paying up to ensure that you understand his/her accent.
We have met plenty of people who have been to the Grand Palace. Everyone has loved it, but has cribbed by saying ‘It’s too crowded!’. Well, it is too crowded because it truly is a place worth seeing. Tourists flock in buses, regardless of the day of the week. Forget having a picture without the crowds in the background. If you still aspire for one such picture, visit early. The Palace timings are from 830 hrs to 1530 hrs (closed on Mondays). If you are amongst the first few to reach, you surely will come back with some ‘exclusive’ pictures.
Visit Other Sites
The entrance ticket to the Grand Palace also includes entrance to a few other sites that are printed on the ticket. Most of these sites are open to visitors till about 4 pm only. Plan your day well in case any of these sites interest you. While some of them are within the Palace compound, other like the ‘Teak House’ are a couple of kilometers away and may require a short cab ride or a long walk in the Sun!
Hoping that you do visit the Grand Palace when you in Bangkok …and that you have a great time there!
As always, feel free to send an email if you have any queries… glad to help! Let the travellers’ tribe grow!