In Pictures: The Grandeur of the Grand Palace, Bangkok

(*Apologies for the quality of the photos – it was a rainy and gloomy day when I visited the Palace)

The Grand Palace is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bangkok. A trip to Bangkok would be incomplete without visiting the Grand Palace, in fact, it’s a must-see for any first-timer to the city.

Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the Grand Palace is an architectural symbol of Thailand. The palace was constructed in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, the founder of Chakri Dynasty, and it served as the royal residence of the Kings of Siam until 1925. The Grand Palace is now used for official events such as royal ceremonies and state functions. The present monarch of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej currently resides at Chitralada Palace.

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Getting There

One thing I love about Bangkok is the ease of travelling to the main attractions within the city. BTS (Skytrain), MRT and river boat networks are easily interconnected, and the signages are very clear. The same is also clearly outlined in tourist maps, thus tourists would be able to understand and decide which place to visit and how to get there.

To get to the Grand Palace:

  1. Catch the BTS at Siam station heading to Bang Wa.
  2. Alight at Saphan Taksin station and exit to Central Pier to catch the river boat.
  3. Hop on to the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat to get to the Grand Palace. A Day Pass costs THB150 which gives you unlimited rides.
  4. Alight at Tha Tien Pier (N8) for the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. From there, it is a short walk to the palace.

Dress Code

There is a strict dress code when entering the Grand Palace (including Temple of the Emerald Buddha). No tank tops, see-through clothes, bare shoulders and no shorts. Shoulders and knees must be covered. However, if you are improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entrance that provides you clothes to cover you up properly (I believe a deposit is required).

Because of the strict dress code, do expect some kind of commotion at the entrance as every visitor would be screened for improper dressing. Such visitors would be called upon, prevented from entering the Palace grounds and directed to the booth to rent clothes to cover up.

I understand that not all tourists were informed of the dress code but I saw a woman wrapped a hotel towel around her shorts so that it could cover her knees! Needless to say, she was spotted and immediately was directed to the booth to rent clothes. A thought struck my mind – she obviously knew about the dress code but couldn’t she wear pants, a longer pair of shorts or a long skirt to cover her knees? Instead she brought the hotel towel!TH-20

Opening Hours & Entrance Fees

Opening Hours: 8.30am-3.30pm daily except during special royal ceremonies.

Entrance Fees: THB500 inclusive access to Wat Phra Kaeo, The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile which are located within the Grand Palace compound, and to Vimanmek Mansion Museum.

If you wish to rent a personal audio guide, the fee is additional THB100.

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace comprises numerous buildings, halls, pavilions, gardens and courtyards. It is partially open to the public as a museum but it remains a working palace with several royal offices situated inside.

The Galleries

The walls of the Royal Monastery grounds are painted with scenes from the Ramakien. The walls were painted since the reign of King Rama I, and have had been restored several times.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

This week, experiment with light and capture a silhouette.

I have shared these silhouette images of my travels around Asia in a number of weekly photo challenges and travel themes..but I guess there’s no harm in showing them again ;-)

Lombok, Indonesia – Senggingi Beach

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Sabah, Malaysia – Tanjung Aru Beach

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Sabah, Malaysia – Filipino Market

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Siem Reap, Cambodia – Angkor Wat

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Bangkok Buzz

It was the long weekend in Malaysia – Eid celebration – I was away for a short trip to Bangkok. I had been to Bangkok a few times but they were business trips which never really gave me time to explore the city. I didn’t see much back then except for the hotel and office. And so this time around, I made the effort to spend a couple of days in this amazing city and to see what it has to offer.

The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok was only 2 hours. Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, I travelled on the Airport Rail Link (the Express Line) which connected me with downtown Bangkok, Phaya Thai Station. It is the quickest way to get to the city – 18 minutes – rather than getting into a taxi or arranging for an airport pick-up by the hotel which could get you stuck in Bangkok’s notorious traffic jam. At Phaya Thai Station, I moved on to interchange to the BTS (Skytrain) and alighted at Asok Station on the Sukhumvit Line. I was staying at Hotel Mermaid located on Soi 29 Sukhumvit Road, a short walking distance (4 blocks) from Asok Station. My luggage was light, so I didn’t mind dragging it while walking to the hotel. Airport Rail Link BKK Hotel Mermaid is a 3-star hotel and it was very clean and truly comfortable. It costs about US$40 a night without breakfast and its location is quiet, away from the din of Bangkok traffic. If you would like to read more about Hotel Mermaid, here are my reviews (Kathleen P) of the hotel on Tripadvisor.  TH-2

As soon as I checked in and freshened up at the hotel, I walked out to the shops close to Asok Station. There are shopping malls and numerous shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants nearby. Hence there will never be a shortage of places to shop and eat :-) You will never be hungry and especially for ladies, you will never be bored because there’s plenty of shopping to do! Apart from the malls in Sukhumvit, you can travel from Asok Station to, for instance, Siam Station, to shop at other major shopping malls such as Siam Paragon, Siam Centre and so on.

 

Since I never got to explore Bangkok in my previous trips, I had forgotten how manic and crazy the city can be. In addition to the massive traffic jam, there are numerous commuters, shoppers and tourists milling around the train stations and shopping malls! Everything out there competes with your senses to get your attention – traffic, music, people, street vendors, announcements, lights, digital billboards and a variety of advertisements – it can get overwhelming sometimes. Nevertheless, it is a good buzz – this shows how exciting and vibrant Bangkok is.

Shop Till You Drop

My girlfriends know that I’m not really a shopping kind of gal. Yeah I do shop for stuff but I don’t go crazy shopping for hours on end :-) However, I was a little different from my usual self on this trip – I decided to do some real shopping, hahah! Many friends have shared with me about the variety of stuff to shop in Bangkok, and how amazingly cheap some of the items. And so I set off for Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Chatuchak Market is only open during the weekends, and it has about 8,000 market stalls! This means, any item that you want to shop for, you can find in this market. The market is roughly divided into…clothing & accessories, handicrafts, ceramics, furniture & home décor, art, books, antiques & collectibles, pets, food and beverage. With its sheer size and diverse collections of merchandise, on any given weekend, more than 200,000 visitors come to Chatuchak!

My family members and friends  previously shared with me that they had spent a full day at Chatuchak (and apparently that’s not enough!) but I only spent half a day shopping there. Since I’m not really a shopping kind of gal, spending half a day in the market was quite a stretch already for me :-) I bought 4 blouses and 3 t-shirts – the quality of the clothes are surprisingly of good, and the t-shirts are sold for as cheap as THB50!

Even if you’re not really a shopping person, it’s still fun to go to Chatuchak Market but my advice is – do dress appropriately for the hot & humid weather – wear t-shirts and shorts, use sun-block and drink plenty of fluids to hydrate. Don’t worry, there are plenty of stalls selling food and drinks, and stalls offering massage in case you’re exhausted from shopping :-)

I did more shopping in the afternoon elsewhere and bought more t-shirts and cotton scarves. By evening, I decided to call it a day because the items began to look the same to me, and that’s when I knew I had enough of shopping for the day! My feet ached from all that walking and there was no better way to end a day of shopping by going for a foot massage (costs only THB250 for 1 hour). Thank goodness, there was a massage parlour just a minute walk from the hotel.

Kat Pegi Mana celebrates the 200 milestone!

Just over last weekend, I hit a new milestone in travel blogging – 200 followers on WordPress, Facebook and email combined! I never thought I would reach this milestone ever since I started this blog on WordPress since Oct 2013, sharing travel stories and photographs dated from 2009 till present.

A big Thanks to all of you, fellow bloggers and followers, you have been a fantastic and supportive community. You have inspired and motivated me, and I hope you continue to “travel” with me on my journeys. Cheers!

Thank You

The Endearing Children of Dah Hanu

(This post is linked to Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Endearing)

When I was travelling in Ladakh back in 2010, we heard about the Dah Hanu village. This village has a special interest because its inhabitants (Drokpas) are said to be of pure Aryan descent, a small community of a thousand people who have more pronounced noses and a taller height. The Drokpas are Buddhists by faith, similar to Ladakhis, but racially and culturally different. Historians have noted that the Drokpas settled here between 200-300 BC when Alexander the Great brought his entourage with him through the Himalayas from Greece and Persia.

As we arrived at the village, I immediately noticed the apricot and walnut orchards, and vegetables patches. The surrounding terrain of this village is desert-like and rough, thus the orchards provided shades and protection from the fierce rays of the sun. With the intense heat from the sun, I guess it was possible to grow these crops and yet as we walked closer to the mud brick houses, I sensed the general socio-economic condition of these people remained poor. The village seemed very quiet as if it was abandoned. Not a single human being could be found except for the children. Our guide, Stanzin asked a little boy where the adults were, and the boy said that they had gone to another village to welcome a newborn. Stanzin was bemused about the entire adult population traversing to another village to welcome one child but leaving their children behind.

Because we had travelled quite a distance from Lamayuru, we didn’t want to just leave Dah Hanu for nothing. So in the end we spent some time playing with the children. I reckon the kids were curious about us – they sang and danced – they were so excited to meet us.

When we were about to leave the village, we chanced upon a Drokpa old lady dressed in a traditional costume. We wanted to take a picture of her – discreetly – but she saw us and immediately requested for money. Since Dah Hanu village is one of the two villages open to foreign tourists, the community now takes advantage by asking for money each time tourists take a photograph.  Stanzin warned us that the villagers sometimes asked for exorbitant sum of money, hence we decided not to take her picture.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

This week, share a texture found in an unexpected place. It could be made of natural materials..or with man-made object.

I think the selection of photos here represent “texture” :-)

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Texture in red sandstone

Banteay Srei

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Siem Reap, Cambodia: Texture in stone bas-reliefs

Angkor Wat

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Rajasthan – India: Texture in white marble

Jain Temple

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Grand Palace in Bangkok: Texture in gold

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