Bangkok’s glittering Grand Palace is one of the most popular attractions in the Thai capital. Built in 1782, this sprawling 54-acre (21.8-hectare) complex served as the royal court and administrative seat of Thailand for 150 years. Today, while it continues to host royal Thai functions, the palace also impresses swathes of visitors with its intricate golden-spired architecture and cultural history.
The complex grounds, right off the Chao Phraya River, feature several visitable buildings and courtyards. Popular sites within the palace walls are the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew); Phra Maha Monthian, where ceremonies of the court still take place; the throne room in Dusit Hall (only two of three throne halls are open to the public); a museum covering the palace’s history; and the buildings of the former royal residences. Though the palace is no longer used as a royal residence, the inner court remains closed to the public. In-depth day tours with private guides explain the art, traditions, and architecture of the Grand Palace.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A strict dress code applies for entry: long pants or skirts, shirts with sleeves (no bare shoulders), and socks—even with sandals. If you come unprepared, a booth near the entrance may offer extra cover-ups with a deposit.
- Most half-day Bangkok tours couple a visit to the Grand Palace with other top activities like canal cruises or stops at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), or Wat Arun.
- The grounds feature a cafe and three restrooms.
When to Get There
The Grand Palace is open daily from 8:30am to 3:30pm. The temples can get crowded and, with the requisite dress code, can also get quite hot. To beat the heat and the crowds, visit in the early morning on weekdays during the peak tourist (but cooler, drier) months of November to February, or in the rainy season (July through October).
How to Get There
The Grand Palace is sandwiched between the Chao Phraya River, Sanam Luang Park, and Wat Pho in the government district of downtown Bangkok. To get there, take the Chao Phraya Express to the Tha Chang Pier. Alternatively, take a taxi or tuk tuk from the city center—although Bangkok’s notoriously heavy traffic is very likely to slow you down.
Making the Most of Your Grand Palace Visit
There are many sites to see within the Grand Palace. If you arrive early, head straight to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, to the left of the entrance, before crowds form. If you visit later in the day, head to the right past the ticket booth to see the palace and formal halls before circling back around by Buddha Ratana Starn Hall and Sidhala Phirom Hall, behind the Emerald Buddha complex. Take your time exploring the chedi (Thai Buddhist stupa-like monument) and naga (multiheaded snakes) along the temple’s exterior.