Thailand’s capital is a perennial favorite on the tourist circuit for two primary reasons: its hedonistic nightlife and its collection of outstanding sights to see—sights such as the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Wat Arun, and the Grand Palace Thailand. The last of these is particularly popular, adorning travel guide covers and postcards sent across the world. And the popularity of the Bangkok Grand Palace is of little wonder, really, given its out-of-this-world golden splendor. Quite simply, the Grand Palace Thailand is one of those sightseeing destinations that travelers live and breathe for while in Bangkok.
Located on the edge of the Chao Phraya River in the tourist hotspot of the Old Town area of Rattanakosin, the Bangkok Grand Palace is a huge complex of awe-inspiring buildings that date back to the closing decades of the eighteenth century. When Thailand’s King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke decided to relocate the country’s capital from Thonburi to Bangkok, he decreed that Bangkok should have a Royal Residence and seat of power that would exhibit an ostentatious magnificence to match the city’s newly formed political importance. Thus the Bangkok Grand Palace was born.
The plan of the Bangkok Grand Palace is similar to the main palace at Ayutthaya, though it differs insofar that it’s still in use today. While the king of Thailand no longer resides in the Grand Palace Thailand, important royal ceremonies such as coronations, marriages, and banquets are still held here. That being said, you don’t have to spend much time at the palace to realize it mainly exists now as a tourist site. Hoards of people flock here every day to see the marvelous structure, and the feeling that the Grand Palace Thailand is a bit of a circus is hard to ignore.
Still, as with the Colosseum in Rome and the Giza Pyramids, great attractions are always going to attract great amounts of people. And the Bangkok Grand Palace is certainly a great attraction. In fact, it’s basically two great attractions in one: the Grand Palace Emerald Buddha is also found here, which means you’ll basically be able to check off two must-sees in one trip.
The Grand Palace Emerald Buddha was commissioned by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke to serve as his very own place of worship. And what a place of worship it is! Also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Phra Kaew, the Grand Palace Emerald Buddha is just about the most jaw-droppingly splendid temple you’ll likely see the world over. Huge, golden, and intricately decorated, it’s the type of building that you have to stare at for several minutes just to work out exactly what you’re looking at. The temple takes its name from a sculpture of Buddha (made, strangely, not from emerald but from jade) that sits at the temple’s focal point. While it’s relatively small in stature, measuring only 17.5 inches (45 centimeters) in height, the Grand Palace Emerald Buddha is great in effect—decorated in gold, it’s an incredible and infinitely memorable vision to cast one’s eyes upon.