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The Grand Palace, Bangkok – Everything You Need To Know

If you’re planning a trip to Bangkok then you absolutely need to add the Grand Palace to your itinerary.

This exquisite palace, situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, is one of Bangkok’s most famous landmarks and visiting it is a must on any trip to Bangkok.

In this ultimate guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Grand Palace including cost, how to get there, dress code, opening hours and more.

About The Grand Palace, Bangkok

A photo I took of the buildings inside the Grand Palace, Bangkok.
A photo I took of the buildings inside the Grand Palace, Bangkok.

The Grand Palace is one of Bangkok’s most famous landmarks and after visiting it for myself recently, I can see why.

The palace complex not only features the Grand Palace itself but many other halls, buildings, gardens, courtyards and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. 

One of my favorite things about the palace is that it has a really unique look and it showcases Thai history and culture well.

The Grand Palace is actually a very sacred site in Thailand as long ago, it used to be home to the Thai King, his court and the government. 

This ended in 1925, however, today it is still used for official events and ceremonies.

Be aware that, as one of Thailand’s most popular tourist spots, the Grand Palace can get very crowded and busy. 

Is Grand Palace Bangkok Worth Visiting?

Buildings inside the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok, Thailand.
Buildings inside the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok, Thailand.

Yes, the Grand Palace in Bangkok is definitely worth visiting. 

It is actually one of the most iconic and important cultural attractions in Bangkok and is definitely a must-see for anyone visiting the city.

The Grand Palace was built in 1782 and was the official residence of the King of Thailand until 1925. 

Whilst nobody lives there now, the Grand Palace is open to the public as a museum and is a great place to explore and learn about Thai history and culture.

The Grand Palace is home to a number of impressive buildings and temples, including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which is one of the most sacred temples in the whole of Thailand.

This temple houses a very beautiful and impressive Buddha statue made entirely of jasper, as well as numerous other ornate statues and decorations. It’s pretty impressive and something you just have to see!

In addition to the impressive architecture and artistry of the Grand Palace, visitors can also learn about the rich history and culture of Thailand through the various exhibits and artifacts on display.

I personally really loved the artwork which is displayed all around the palace. I spent ages trying to figure out what was happening in each scene.

Artwork inside the Grand Palace, Bangkok.
Artwork inside the Grand Palace, Bangkok.

Overall, the Grand Palace is a must-see attraction in Bangkok that offers a unique and fascinating glimpse into Thailand’s rich history and culture so you don’t wanna miss it.

How Much Does The Grand Palace Cost?

The Grand Palace Bangkok entrance fee is currently 500 baht ($14.55). It’s the same price for both adults and children however any children under 120cm can enter for free.

I actually visited the palace very recently and that’s what I paid.

This price is only for foreigners so if you’re a Thai national, you can actually enter the palace for free.

This ticket does give you entry into both the Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Kaew temple (where you can see the impressive Emerald Buddha statue).

You may also need to rent a sarong (if you’re not wearing the correct clothing) which costs 200 baht ($5.80) but this is usually refunded as long as you return the sarong. I cover the dress code in detail later in the post.

If you want to rent an audio tour then you can for an additional 200 baht ($5.80).

You can purchase your ticket on the day at the ticket office or you can pre-book your ticket online.

I personally just bought my ticket when I got there and it was fine. The queue wasn’t super long so I only had to wait a few minutes to get my ticket and enter the grounds.

You can pay with either cash or card (I paid by card).

Grand Palace Bangkok Tour

Statues inside the Grand Palace complex.
Statues inside the Grand Palace complex.

The best way to see the Grand Palace is by booking onto a guided tour like this one.

I’d really recommend doing one of these if you can as the knowledgeable guides know everything there is to know about the palace.

I personally always find I enjoy visiting places like this so much more when I know the history behind it.

Additionally, this tour also includes a visit to Wat Traimit (where you can see a 5.5-ton solid gold Buddha statue) and Wat Pho (where you get to see the 46m-long reclining Buddha).

It also includes all of your entrance fees making it actually a pretty good price given everything that’s included.

Grand Palace Guided Tour (also includes Wat Pho & Wat Traimit)

Grand Palace Bangkok Dress Code

What I wore to the Grand Palace.
What I wore to the Grand Palace.

The dress code at the Grand Palace in Bangkok is very strict and you will be denied entry if you’re not wearing the right clothes (and that goes for both men and women).

The general rule is that you should cover your knees, shoulders and chest.

For men, you should wear full-length pants and a t-shirt that covers your shoulders. Avoid wearing shorts and vests.

For women, you should wear full-length pants or a long skirt and a t-shirt that covers your shoulders and chest. Avoid vests/tank-tops, crop tops, shorts and short skirts.

The Grand Palace is seen as a sacred site meaning the dress code is strictly enforced.

When I visited recently, I saw so many men showing up in shorts and all of them had to either buy some long pants from a nearby vendor or hire a sarong at the official hire shop.

If you’re not dressed properly, I’d recommend getting your clothes from the official hire shop inside the Grand Palace as it’s actually free (you just pay a 200 baht refundable deposit).

You’ll find a lot of vendors located just outside the Grand Palace trying to sell you ridiculously priced clothes. 

They’ll often tell you that your outfit is incorrect (even if it’s not) so if you’re unsure then continue to the official ticket office and ignore these sellers. 

They’re just trying to sell you an overpriced t-shirt or sarong.

Can You Wear Jeans To The Grand Palace?

Yes, you can wear jeans to the Grand Palace.

You should avoid ripped jeans or anything with holes in as this may be seen as inappropriate. Regular full-length jeans are fine though.

I actually wore jeans to the Wat Arun temple when I first visited and I wish I hadn’t.

I was allowed to enter wearing jeans but I felt so hot. The tight clothing plus the uncomfortable material made walking around in 86ºF (30ºC) heat almost unbearable.

I later bought a pair of loose cotton trousers for other sights like the Grand Palace and felt much more comfortable.

Why Is The Grand Palace So Famous?

The Grand Palace in Bangkok.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is famous for many reasons. Not only is it hugely historically significant but it’s also incredibly beautiful so tourists flock here from all over the world to see it.

Historical Significance

The Grand Palace was built in 1782, and was the official residence of the King of Thailand for over 150 years. 

Many important ceremonies and events took place here and, as a result, the Grand Palace is an important symbol of Thailand’s history and culture.

Architectural Beauty

The Grand Palace is world-renowned for its stunning architecture and intricate design. 

The buildings within the palace complex all feature intricate carvings, golden leaves and colorful tiles. 

One of my favorite things about visiting the palace was admiring its beauty and appreciating the incredible craftsmanship that went into its creation. It really is stunning.

Buildings inside the Grand Palace complex.
Buildings inside the Grand Palace complex.

Cultural and Religious Significance

The Grand Palace is also home to Wat Phra Kaew which is one of the most important and sacred temples in Thailand. 

This temple houses the Emerald Buddha statue which is believed to bring good fortune and prosperity to Thailand. It’s made entirely of jasper (not emerald), meaning it looks pretty cool too.

Due to this, the Grand Palace is also an important religious site and many Thai people come here for this reason.

Grand Palace Bangkok Opening Hours

The Grand Palace is open from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm every day of the week.

Last entry is at 3:30 PM but the palace does remain open until 4:30 pm.

Best Time To Visit Grand Palace Bangkok

Statues at the Grand Palace.
Statues at the Grand Palace.

The best time of day to visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok is early in the morning as the temperature is cooler and the crowds are smaller. 

Arriving as soon as the palace opens at 8:30 am is a good way to avoid the worst of the crowds and the heat.

This is also great if you want to take lots of photos without tons of people in the background. Make sure you’ve got your best Thailand Instagram captions on hand because you’ll need them!

Another good time to visit is in the late afternoon, just before the palace closes at 3:30 pm. 

You can actually enter the palace at 3:30 pm and wander around until 4:30 pm.

Few people know this (they think the palace closes at 3:30 pm but that’s just the last entry) so it means that it’s much quieter.

The crowds tend to thin out at this time as visitors begin to leave and the temperature begins to cool down. 

Make sure you visit with enough time to explore the grounds. I personally don’t think 1 hour is enough to see everything so you might want to get there at 2:30/3 pm.

The Grand Palace does get very crowded, especially during peak tourist season, so it’s a good idea to avoid visiting at midday when the crowds are at their worst.

What Can You Do At The Grand Palace In Thailand?

The inside of the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok.
The inside of the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok.

The Grand Palace complex, which covers over 200,000 m², is made up of several sites which are divided into two main areas: Wat Phra Kaew and the royal residences. 

The royal residences are then divided up into further areas: the Outer Court, the Middle Court and the Inner Court.

Wat Phra Kaew

One of the most impressive areas within the Grand Palace complex is Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. 

This sacred Buddhist temple contains the famous Emerald Buddha statue which shows a Buddha in a meditating position, having been delicately carved out from a single block of jasper (and not emerald as the name implies).

The origins of the statue are very mysterious. In fact, nobody really knows where it came from or who made it. It initially surfaced in northern Thailand in 1434.

Since 1784, once a season, the King of Thailand has changed the Buddha’s clothes in a ceremony.

The Royal Residences

Grand Palace, Bangkok
Grand Palace, Bangkok

My personal favorite part of the Grand Palace to explore was the royal residences as it was just so grand! 

I’ve literally never seen anything so fancy – it really puts Buckingham Palace to shame.

You’ll find the Outer Court of the palace close to the entrance. 

This was the location of several state offices and government departments like the army, the treasury and the civil administration. This is also where you’ll find the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

The Middle Court is where the King of Thailand once resided. It also contains some of the most magnificent rooms including two very detailed throne halls. 

You can actually take a look around these halls which today are just used for important royal ceremonies like coronations. The interiors are really magnificent!

The Inner Court is actually closed off to the public so you won’t be able to see it at all. 

Historically, the Inner Court was where the King’s daughters and royal consorts lived. It was a mostly female-only zone but many sons under the age of puberty also lived there.

The King was the only adult male allowed to enter, however today it is no longer in use.

Interestingly, the Grand Palace actually has more of a European-style rather than Thai-style. You’ll notice a huge contrast between the palace itself and the Wat Phra Kaew temple.

To learn more about the palace’s restoration throughout the years, you can also take a look at the museum that’s located inside the complex. 

This museum contains lots of information about the restoration of the Grand Palace as well as many models and images of how it used to look.

How Long Does It Take To Walk Around The Grand Palace Bangkok?

Building on the Grand Palace complex.
Building on the Grand Palace complex.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a vast complex, covering an area of more than 200,000 m² so the amount of time it takes to walk around the entire palace can vary depending on how much you want to see and how fast you walk.

On average, it takes about 2-3 hours to explore the main buildings and temples within the Grand Palace complex, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Outer Court and the Middle Court. 

If you are interested in learning everything there is to know about Thai history and culture, or if you want to explore every single nook and cranny of the palace, it may take longer.

When I visited recently, I spent around 2 hours exploring the palace grounds. I definitely didn’t see everything there is to see including the throne rooms and the museum but I saw a lot.

It was very hot on the day I visited and I was getting tired (plus my boyfriend came down with sunstroke) so we left after a couple of hours.

As one of Thailand’s most popular attractions, the Grand Palace can get very crowded, especially during peak tourist season, which can slow down your progress as you navigate through the crowds. 

I was constantly bumping into people and trying to get around people to see certain parts of the palace. I imagine it would have been a bit quicker without so many people.

You’ll also need to factor in some time to take a rest as it’s really tiring and there’s not much shade at all so the hot sun is beating down on you the whole time.

To get the most out of your visit to the Grand Palace, I’d plan at least 2 to 3 hours of time to explore but you may want to allow for more time if you want to take things at a more leisurely pace or explore every single corner of the palace.

How To Get To Grand Palace Bangkok

Map of Bangkok showing the location of the Grand Palace.
Map of Bangkok showing the location of the Grand Palace.

The Grand Palace is located right in the heart of the city, along the banks of the Chao Phraya River. 

There are many ways to get around Bangkok including the BTS, MRT, taxi or tuk tuk.

What Is The Closest BTS Station To The Grand Palace?

The closest BTS Skytrain station to the Grand Palace is Saphan Taksin on the Silom Line but it is still 5.5km away.

To get to the Grand Palace by BTS using public transport follow these steps:

  • Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin on the Silom Line.
  • When you arrive, take Exit 1 which is labeled ‘Cross-River Ferry Pier’.
  • Once you get outside, walk to the Central Pier. You’ll be able to see it when you exit the station.
  • When you get to the pier, follow the signs for the Chao Phraya Express Boat.
  • Buy a ticket from the attendant. It should cost 20 baht ($0.60) per person.
  • Board the boat and get off at Tha Chang Pier which is located right in front of the Grand Palace.

I actually did this journey recently when I visited the Grand Palace and it’s pretty easy. 

If you’re coming by MRT rather than the BTS then you can still take the MRT to Saphan Taksin station and follow the steps above.

Map showing the route from Saphan Taksin to the Grand Palace.
Map showing the route from Saphan Taksin to the Grand Palace.

Taxi/Tuk Tuk

Taking a taxi or tuk tuk is another easy way to get to the Grand Palace. It’s much more convenient and comfortable than taking the BTS and the boat.

It can be expensive though because as soon as you tell a taxi driver you want to go to the Grand Palace they just see you as a huge dollar sign and will try to charge you at least 5x the normal price.

Be sure to negotiate the fare with them or insist that they use the meter. I personally use the Grab app (Asia’s version of Uber) whenever I’m in Thailand because you don’t have to haggle or worry about being overcharged.

Grand Palace Bangkok Address

Address: Na Phra Lan Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand.

This is the official address for the Grand Palace however if you tell a taxi driver you want to go to the Grand Palace they’ll know where it is so you won’t really need the address.

Can You Take Photos In The Grand Palace Bangkok?

Golden building in the Grand Palace.
Golden building in the Grand Palace.

Yes, you can take photos in most areas of the Grand Palace in Bangkok but there are some restrictions in certain areas including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

You’re allowed to take photos in all the outdoor areas of the Grand Palace including the courtyards, gardens and exterior of buildings. 

However, you’re not allowed to take photos inside the main buildings, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew).

This rule is strictly enforced so please don’t try to take any pictures of the Emerald Buddha itself.

Areas where you’re not allowed to take photos are clearly signposted so you’ll know when you can and can’t take photos.

Can You Go Inside The Grand Palace Bangkok?

Yes, you can go inside the Grand Palace itself but only certain rooms are open to the public.

You’ll find that there are certain areas of the palace that are off-limits completely including the Inner Court.

You can access the outdoor areas of the Outer and Middle Courts as part of your ticket.

The only buildings that you’re allowed to enter are the two throne halls, which are located in the Middle Court, and the Wat Phra Kaew temple which is in the Outer Court.

The entire Inner Court and the rest of the indoor areas are all off-limits and the public cannot enter them.

Who Lives In The Grand Palace Bangkok?

Statue at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Statue at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Today, nobody lives inside the Grand Palace in Bangkok but historically the King of Thailand lived there.

Whilst the Grand Palace is one of Thailand’s most important historic landmarks, it’s no longer used as a royal residence by the Royal Family of Thailand.

In 1925, King Rama VII moved their primary residence to the Dusit Palace, however the Grand Palace is still used by the family for official state functions and ceremonies.

The Grand Palace was originally built in 1782 as the official residence of the King of Thailand and it served as the center of the government and administration for the country for over 150 years. 

Do You Need A Passport For Grand Palace Bangkok?

No, you do not need a passport to visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

You actually don’t need anything to visit the palace other than some money to pay for the entrance fee. You can also pay by card.

Grand Palace Bangkok Scams

Unfortunately as the Grand Palace is one of Thailand’s most famous sights, this does mean that some people try to take advantage of that and scam tourists.

Below I’ve listed the most common scams involving the Grand Palace.

The Grand Palace Is Closed

Many taxi and tuk tuk drivers in the area will tell you that the Grand Palace is closed. They often dress up like official-looking security guards to make it more believable.

This is really common as when I visited the palace recently, I actually had 3 different people come up to me saying this and some of them even looked like official officers.

I even had one guy come up to me after I’d left the Grand Palace telling me it was closed, little did he know I’d just been in there so I knew it wasn’t closed.

The Grand Palace is open every single day and it would only be closed if there was some sort of catastrophic event.

These drivers are just looking to take you to various shops that pay them a commission to bring in tourists. Just ignore them and keep walking to the palace.

Dress Code Scam

Another common scam is street sellers telling you that your skirt is too short or your t-shirt is too tight in order to sell you a sarong/clothes. 

If you follow the guidance that I listed above then you shouldn’t have a problem so just ignore anyone that says what you’re wearing isn’t correct.

If you are unsure, go to the official Grand Palace entrance anyway and if it is too short, they will give you a sarong for free.

The street sellers will usually try and charge you a high price so I personally wouldn’t bother (especially when you can hire one for free at the entrance).

Overpriced Tours

Another scam is people trying to sell overpriced tours or audio guides. They often will try to charge a really high price.

If you want an audio tour then you can rent one inside the entrance for 200 baht.

It’s also hard to know the quality of these tours when someone is just approaching you on the street.

If you want a guided tour of the palace I’d recommend pre-booking this Grand Palace tour as it’s very reasonably priced, includes a tour of two other Thailand temples and it has excellent reviews so you know you’re getting a good deal.

Grand Palace Bangkok History & Facts

Statues inside the Grand Palace.
Statues inside the Grand Palace.

Here’s some Grand Palace Bangkok facts and the general history behind the palace.

The Grand Palace was originally built in 1782 by the King at the time, Rama I. 

Rama I was the founder of the Chakri Dynasty which is the current reigning dynasty of the Kingdom of Thailand. 

He decided to move the capital of Thailand from Thonburi (on the west side of the Chao Phraya River) to Bangkok (on the east side).

The Grand Palace was originally built out of wood to save money meaning it looked very different to what you see today.

Over time, bricks were taken from the ruins of Ayutthaya and taken down the Chao Phraya River to build the Grand Palace into what it is today. 

Over the years, many other buildings were added by successive kings.

Rama I was able to move into his new residence just 2 months after construction started. 

This was due to them using the exact floor plan and layout of the old Ayutthaya Grand Palace to build the new palace. This saved both time and money.

The Grand Palace was then the home of the King of Thailand for the next 150 years. It was also the site of the government. 

Throughout the early 1900s, a series of new palaces were built in Bangkok and the Royal Family gradually moved into them and by 1925, the palace was empty.

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is one of the palace’s most popular sights, dates back to the 14th century.

Here’s a quick overview of how each area of the palace was used:

  • The Outer Court was historically used to house government departments including the treasury and the army. 
  • The Middle Court was where the King resided. It also contained halls used for state business. 
  • The Inner Court was where the King’s royal consorts, Queens, ladies-in-waiting and daughters lived, along with young boys (under age of puberty). The King was the only man allowed inside the Inner Court.

And that’s it!

Thanks for reading this post all about the Grand Palace in Bangkok. 

I absolutely loved visiting this royal palace and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in history, culture and architecture.

If you need more help planning your Bangkok trip then check out my guide on where to stay in Bangkok which covers the top hotels and a guide to each area of the city.

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Megan

Megan Jones is a travel expert and founder of Traveller's Elixir, who has been travelling the world full time since 2021. Megan's travel tips been featured in numerous media outlets including Metro, Timeout, Thrillist and more.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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