Following the nightlife of Koh Phi Phi and with our friend Corinne visiting for just a week, we used our second visit to Bangkok as a chance to embrace some Thai culture. What better place to start than with the largest and most sacred place in Thailand; the Grand Palace. Bangkok offers beautiful religious sites on nearly every corner, recognisable by the tell-tale coloured roof tiers, but the Palace stands out as the most impressive architecturally. It is a maze-like complex of buildings, temples, statues and spires set in green gardens and paved courtyards, which are completely overwhelming; the size and number of buildings mean that it can take a whole day to view fully. It costs 500 baht to enter (about £11), but is worth every satang*!
The Grand Palace was originally a home for the monarch, the royal family and the government, but now is mostly used as a museum showcasing royal artifacts and historical weapons. The primary tourist attraction is the group of colourful temples and religious statues, including the renowned Wat Phra Kaew (The Temple of the Emerald Buddha). The Emerald Buddha is in fact made from jade, but was mistaken for emerald in the 15th century. It is quite a small image, but the monastery in which it is displayed is almost fairytale-like, with extensive wall art depicting the life and teachings of the Lord Buddha and gilded decorations. The Emerald Buddha is also adorned in different outfits according to the seasons! Huge numbers of visitors made offerings and came to worship before the shrine-like monument, which in itself was intriguing to observe.
The architecture of the group of temples is classic Thai style, with bell shapes, brightly coloured mosaic walls and tall patterned columns creating porches to the entrances. The gold paint used on the wall art and on statues reflects brightly in the sunshine creating a glow around the buildings. It was impossible to find a single corner that wasn’t filled with ornate and intricate details – we took well over 500 photos…
The Grand Palace is everything people say it is; sacred, dazzling and architecturally spectacular.
Charlotte & Sarah x
* a one hundredth of a baht!