Part of the Grand Palace complex, the Chakri Group features a unique blend of traditional Thai architecture and 19th-century European styles.
Admission: 500 baht.
The Grand Palace complex is in the heart of Bangkok. The palace was the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. The king, his court, and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The Grand Palace is still used for official events. Several royal ceremonies and state functions are held within the walls of the palace every year. It is one of Bangkok’s busiest tourist spots, so let your guide show you the best way to enjoy your visit to this often-crowded place.
The site once hosted eleven halls and pavilions but only three are left. The Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall, the Moon Satharn Borom Ard Hall and the Sommuthi Thevaraj Uppabat Hall. Behind these structures lie the grand Borom Ratchasathit Mahoran Hall, which has been recently rebuilt. None of the rooms are open to the public as state functions are still carried out within. The changing of the guards occurs at the front courtyard every two hours.
The Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat is situated on the northernmost part of the Phra Thinang Chakri group. The throne hall forms the front or the façade of the entire building group. In front of the throne hall is the Rathakit Field. The throne hall is constructed in an eclectic style, blending Thai and European (renaissance and italianate) styles. The lower part is European, while the upper part is in Thai-styled green and orange tiled roofs and gilded spires, or prasats.
After a trip to Singapore and Java in 1875, King Rama V brought back two Englishmen to design and construct the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall, the architect John Clunich and his helper Henry C. Rose. Construction began in 1876. The King wanted an entirely European structure with domes but at the insistence of his Chief Minister, the King decided to add the gilded spires and Thai roofs. The throne hall was completed in 1882, on the centenary of the House of Chakri and the Grand Palace. The new throne hall was given the name Phra Thinang Chakri, meaning literally ‘the seat of the Chakris’.
Phra Thinang Moon Satharn Borom Ard is situated behind the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall to the east side and was built as a separate wing in 1869. The hall encompasses the original area where King Rama V was born and had lived as a child. Previously King Rama I had the area set aside as a small mango tree garden. Currently the hall is used as a banqueting and reception venue.
The Phra Thinang Sommuthi Thevaraj Uppabat is situated on the opposite side of the Moon Santharn Borom Ard Hall to the west of the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall, the wing was also built in 1868. The hall is divided into several state rooms for use by the king, and a reception room and a council room. It was in this hall on 12 July 1874 that King Rama V stated to his ministers his intention to abolish slavery in Siam.
The Phra Thinang Borom Ratchasathit Mahoran is a large banquet hall at the very back of the Chakri Maha Prasat group. Formerly the Damrong Sawad Ananwong Hall and the Niphatpong Thawornwichit Hall. The two halls were built by King Rama V to host foreign guests and dignitaries. Construction of the current hall began in 1996 but was interrupted by the 1997 Asian financial crisis and resumed on 1 April 2004. The new throne hall is built on a raised platform and consists of several inter-connected buildings forming two internal courtyards. These rooms function as a banqueting hall and are still used for important state functions. In 2006 the hall welcomed the royal representatives of 25 monarchies worldwide for the celebration of King Rama IX’s 60th Anniversary on the Throne.
Things to see and do at the Chakri Group:
- The collection of ancient weapons displayed in the arcades along the building’s front (open to the public on weekdays only).
- Admire the beautiful lawns and gardens.
- The changing of the King’s Guards. (Every two hours)
- Roof tops painted in gold, red and green are an awesome sight.
- Food is available from stalls nearby.
The Grand Palace is open daily from 08:30 – 15:30
The Grand Palace and The Chakri Group is located on Na Phra Lan Road, Old City (Rattanakosin)
Admission price: 500 baht.
Ticket includes entry to Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.
Things to remember when visiting:
A strict dress code applies. Visitors must be properly dressed before being allowed entry. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves (no tank tops. If wearing sandals or flip-flops you must wear socks (no bare feet). Women must be similarly modestly dressed. There’s a booth near the entrance that provides clothes to cover up for a small deposit.
After your visit to The Grand Palace there’s plenty to see and do in central Bangkok, like visiting Khao San Road and Soi Rambuttri. Some of Bangkok’s other important temples are nearby, including Wat Suthat and The Giant Swing, and Wat Bowonniwet Vihara.
For more Thai history you can visit the nearby Phra Sumen Fort, the Museum of Siam, and the Bangkok National Museum.