Editors' Picks

Grand Palace

grand palace, bangkok

Plan to spend several hours exploring the Grand Palace, a sprawling complex that was the official residence of the king of Thailand from the 18th to the mid-20th centuries. As with any palace in Europe, each expansion was the work of another king, but perhaps the most influential touches were added by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), whose father was the inspiration for The King and I. (Even though the story of British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens and the six years she spent at the court teaching English to the king’s wives, concubines and children—including Chulalongkorn—is revered by the Thai people, the Hollywood film starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fat is not. In fact, it was banned in Thailand because of major historical inaccuracies.)

King Chulalongkorn was keenly interested in Western politics and administration, and his insight and political savvy is often credited as the reason why Thailand (then Siam) was never colonized. At the Grand Palace, King Chulalongkorn, who traveled widely in Asia and Europe, instigated the building of the Borom Phiman mansion, a whimsical combination of Thai and neoclassical French architecture (today it houses heads of state who travel to Thailand). The big attraction at the Grand Palace, to a large extent, is the spectacular temple of the Emerald Buddha, carved entirely of green jade and clothed in gold. Note that your ticket to see the Grand Palace is also valid for a same-day visit to the Dusit Palace.

Written by Simone Girner

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