Image of: Sideview of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Grand Palace in Bangkok – Legend of the Emerald Buddha

This post was last updated on February 19th, 2020 at 08:36 am


The Grand Palace is the most famous attraction in Bangkok. Among the Thai residents, it is also called Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang. Words that will probably give you triple word value in scrabble. Fortunately, most tuk-tuk drivers speak English and it is referred to everywhere as the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a beautiful building, and one of the most popular sights of Thailand.

 

Grand Palace in Bangkok

The Palace has been the official residence of the kings of Siam since 1782, and later Thailand. The King, his family, the government, and the servants stayed here until 1925, in total there were more than 1,000 men.

 

Access to the Grand Palace will cost you 500 baht (US$16). It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 

Nowadays the palace is no longer used as a residence for the king. The current king of Thailand lives in the Chitralada Palace. The Grand Palace in Bangkok, or Royal Palace, is still used today for special occasions.

 

Change of Name

In the beginning, the palace was also called Phra Ratcha Wang Luang or Royal Palace. Just like its predecessor in Ayutthaya. It was King Mongkut (Rama IV) who changed the name to Phra Boromma Maha Ratcha Wang, or Grand Palace.

 

Wat Phra Kaew

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha or the Wat Phra Kaew is the main attraction within the Royal Palace; a highlight within a highlight. Although it is always and everywhere referred to as a temple, it is, in reality, a royal chapel.

 

This confusion is not entirely unjustified since the Wat Phra Kaew has all the characteristics of a temple. Although the temple is called the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Buddha is made from green nephrite.

 

For 200 baht (US$6.40) you can rent an audio guide that will tell you more about the complex.

 

Image of: Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok
Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok

 

Legend of the Emerald Buddha

According to legend, the Emerald Buddha was erected in 43 BC and made by Nagasena in India. After it remained there for 300 years, it was taken to Ceylon in Sri Lanka to save the statue from the civil war.

 

In 457, King Anaruth of Myanmar sent a group of people to Ceylon for Buddhist writings and the Emerald Buddha to support Buddhism in his country.

 

Unfortunately, the boat got lost and ended up in Cambodia. When Thailand, or Siam at that time, conquered Angkor in 1432, the Emerald Buddha was taken to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand.

 

After many detours, it eventually ended up in Chiang Rai where kings hid the statue. After that, it was finally taken to the Grand Palace.

 

Image of: A giant at the Grand Palace
One of the giants at Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace

 

Grand Palace Clothing Regulations and Scams

Strict clothing regulations apply. For example, you have to wear trousers that reach the knees and women have to cover their shoulders. If you do not have these types of clothing, you will be able to get it there.

 

In addition, you must always take off your shoes /slippers at every temple you enter.

 

TIP – NEVER point the soles of your feet towards a Buddha statue. This is a massive insult.

 

Scams

It sometimes happens that the tuk-tuk driver drops you at the wrong “point”. There they tell you that the Grand Palace is not open and that you have to come back later. Don’t fall for this; they just want to talk to you again in a tuk-tuk to give you a tour through the city as “cheap” as possible!

 

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