The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand is certainly a beautiful place to visit. It is also a major tourist trap. But as we are tourists and it is a must see place to visit in Bangkok we opened our wallets, entered the royal gardens and took many photos and a video to prove that we actually went.
Before entering the palace we encountered a famous Bangkok scam. A man approached us as we headed towards the entrance. He told us the palace was closed and that we should go to another nearby attraction. I'm not exactly sure what he said after that. It's such a well known scam that I had already stopped taking in what he was saying. Typically, you're directed somewhere that money can be extracted from you, part of which goes to the person who lures you in. Always verify the closed-ness of an attraction for yourself.
After a lengthy stroll the long way around the outside of the palace walls we at least reached the entrance. At the smug price of 400 Baht per foreign adult, the Grand Palace is Bangkok is definitely on the expensive side. For an extra 200 Baht, you can purchase an audio guide for two hours. We didn't go for the audio guide machine, not that we didn't want it, but they ask for either a credit card or a passport to take hostage while you have the audio guide. Bah bow.
One other thing that the Grand Palace advertised in the same area as where you buy your tickets and the audio guide is an iPhone app. This app is a guide for the Grand Palace. At a price of $2.99 AUD and free wifi at the ticket area, we decided to splash out and buy the app. It was ok, nothing special, and had the exact same small amount of information that you received in the free pamphlet.
Once you enter the Grand Palace, there is a booth just to your left that says that there are free English audio tours at 10:00am, 10:30am, 1:30pm and 2:00pm. We weren't there at these particular times so we are unable to advise if the free tour was worth it. It is advisable to believe that you would be required to deposit a donation into the tour guide's hat at the end of the tour though.
It is very important to realise that you need to be conservatively covered when entering and walking around the Grand Palace in Bangkok. This means that shoulders and knees need to be covered. For both men and women. Women, please do not show off your boobs by wearing anything low cut or revealing. Just make sure you wear shorts, pants or a skirt that covers your knees, and if you are wearing a tank top, then please cover up with a sarong. If required, there is a place just inside the entrance of the Grand Palace, just before you get to the ticket booth, that you can hire a sarong or even a full pant outfit.
Once in the Grand Palace complex completely, you will be sharing the experience with what seems like every person in the world. It is a very busy place. If you think you can get a quiet moment to take that quiet picture without anybody else in the photo, think again. We were lucky to get maybe one or two photos without other people in them. Alas, the Grand Palace really is beautiful, photogenic and very very popular.
The Grand Palace is a large complex surrounded by four walls. It is a Palace of many buildings and each building is as gorgeous as the others inside and out. Every wall seems to have a scene painted on it from the past. Important people and events. They were all lovely to look at.
There is also the temple of the emerald Buddha that people love to see. The statue is indeed beautiful but as you are not allowed to take photographs in there, and there are men lurking in the crowd ready to pounce on anyone taking out a camera, we decided to follow suite and just enjoy the scene before moving on.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok is beautiful place to visit. Some of the buildings are genuinely awe inspiring. The architecture is magnificent. The decorations are flawless. It is just too busy to really enjoy.
Note that the Grand Palace is only open from 8:30am to 3:30pm. As it is a large complex, you really do need to get there in the morning or very early afternoon. Most of the museum sections of the Grand Palace shut at 3pm, and you will not get your money back if you don't see everything.
Also, you receive two tickets when you purchase them from the Grand Palace ticket office. One for the Grand Palace & Temple of Emerald Buddha the second one for the museums, Throne Hall, Sanam Chandra Palace & Kingdom Exhibition. We think we saw everything but it's difficult to be really sure.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand is worth a visit. Yes it's crowded, yes we had to part with a bunch of money but it was beautiful and we felt like we had to see it once. Now we can cross it off our bucket list.