With just 3 full days in Bangkok we were eager to check out as many must-see attractions as possible – despite recovering from some serious jet lag!
There are several “big” things to do in Bangkok as a tourist, but a visit to Wat Phra Kaew (also known as Temple of the Emerald Buddha) in the Grand Palace is arguably the most important.
This comprehensive tourist guide covers everything you need to know about visiting Wat Phra Kaew including opening times, dress code, how to get there and a little history to boot too!
Visiting Wat Phra Kaew Temple
Wat Phra Kaew (officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram) is the home of the Emerald Buddha statue and is considered to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.
A Quick History of The Grand Palace
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is located inside the walls of the Grand Palace – a large complex in the heart of Bangkok that consists of many historic buildings.
Construction of the Grand Palace began in 1782 under King Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I) who went on to live there during his reign. The palace continued to serve as the residence of the Royal Family for approximately 150 years and many buildings were added to the complex by the kings who lived there.
Note: The Royal Family no longer resides in the Grand Palace, but royal ceremonies and official state functions are still held on the grounds each year.
The Emerald Buddha Statue
The Emerald Buddha (Phra Kaeo Morakot) is located inside Wat Phra Kaew temple on the Outer Court of the Grand Palace.
The iconic statue is carved from a single piece of semi-precious jade stone (not emerald) and depicts the Buddha sitting in a meditating position. The sacred image is considered a symbol of protection in Thai society.
Note: The Emerald Buddha is the main attraction at the Grand Palace so don’t miss it!
Opening Times, Entry Fee & Dress Code
The Grand Palace is open to visitors between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on a daily basis.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Grand Palace is one of the most visited landmarks in Thailand. Needless to say, it’s worth getting there early if you want to avoid the crowds.
There is a 500 Baht admission fee to the Grand Palace.
This gives you access to Wat Phra Kaew, the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles and The Royal Thai Decorations & Coins Pavilion – all of which are located inside the walls of the Grand Palace. You can also use your ticket for free access to the Vimanmek Palace Museum.
This is VERY IMPORTANT!
Like any sacred place in Thailand, there are certain dress rules that you must follow when visiting Wat Phra Kaew. However, the dress code for the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew is particularly strict compared to other temples in Bangkok.
The following is a list of prohibited clothing at the Grand Palace:
- Shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, tight fitting trousers, and tights
- See-through shirts and blouses, as well as culottes or quarter length trousers
- Sleeveless shirts or vests
- Sandals (without ankle or heel straps)
- Rolled-up-sleeved shirts
- Sweatshirts and sweatpants, wind-cheaters, pajamas and fisherman trousers
You will also be required to take off your shoes when entering Wat Phra Kaew and some of the other sacred buildings on the grounds.
The strict dress code at the Grand Palace is something that many tourists (myself and Paul included) are not aware of before arriving. Fortunately, you can rent appropriate attire (long pants, long skirts, etc.) at the entrance and will be fully reimbursed upon returning the clothing.
How To Get To Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew is located on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon District.
[To get directions on Google Maps from your current location, click here.]
We arrived by taking a Chao Phraya River Express Boat to Tha Phrachan Cross River Ferry Pier.
The main entrance to the Grand Palace is a short 10 minute walk from Tha Phrachan Pier:
I would recommend taking a Chao Phraya River Express boat when going to Wat Phra Kaew. This will give you a different perspective of Bangkok and will avoid the heavy traffic that tends to build up around the Grand Palace area.
You can also get by taking a taxi, tuk-tuk, public bus or the BTS Sky Train.
Note: Wat Phra Kaew is located near several other famous temples in Bangkok including Wat Pho and Wat Arun so consider adding these to your itinerary while you are in the area.
Views From Around & Inside The Temple
The Grand Palace is a huge complex with so many cool buildings and interesting structures to see.
[Pictured above: Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Grand Golden Pagoda]
[Pictured above: Paul Anthony and I standing outside Wat Phra Kaew]
Many of the buildings in the Grand Palace are covered in mosaic tiles as shown in the photo below. The attention to detail is unbelievable!
Added Bonus – Official Tottenham Hotspurs Program
A few months ago I met up with Paul in London where I attended a Tottenham Hotspurs soccer match. Quite the experience to say the least!
Anyway, I happened to be wearing my newly acquired Spurs shirt when we visited Wat Phra Kaew and after sending some photos to the Spurs press team, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the “Spurs Around The World” section of the latest program!
Please feel free to share your experience at the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew in the comments below!
"My visit to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew exceeded my expectations! The buildings are so amazing and the history of the Grand Palace is unbelievable. Definitely worth the trip."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★