Thailand's famous "Grand Palace" is a building complex at the heart of oldtown Bangkok. This palace was used as the official residence of the Thai Kings from 1782 to 1925 and housed the King, his court and the royal government. Adjacent to the Palace is Wat Phra Kaew or the "Temple of the Emerald Buddha" and often the names get confused with the Grand Palace by tourist. The is probably due to Wat Phra Kaew being the primary attraction within the palace grounds. While the grounds are still used for an occasional royal ceremony, the primary function of the Grand Palace is as a museum to present to the public the Royal History of Thailand.
If you have a day or two in Bangkok to plan a robust cultural excursion, this page will help. These Thailand Travel Explorer pages contain information and photo compilations of the very best top destinations in Oldtown Bangkok, which will give a full flavor of the culture that has developed into the Thailand we know today.
Wat Suthat (Wat Suthat Thep Wararam) is located adjacent to the "Giant Swing" and the swing is considered part of the Temple complex. The temple is also one of the official "Royal" Temples as well as a royal temple of the first grade, one of ten such temples in Bangkok. The temple grounds are beautifully maintained and on my visit one of the two Temples were under renovation. I suggest a tour of the temple for anyone interested in Thai Culture.
Bangkok's Giant Swing is another of Bangkok's famous City icons. The swing has a long history in Bangkok, being constructed in the late seventeen hundreds by King Rama I. The swing ceremonies have their roots in Hindu traditions. The swing has been replaced several times in the past with the most recent in 2007 when huge teak trees were specially grown and selected for the straightness of the trunks and free of knots. I was lucky enough to be in Bangkok for the dedication of the new swing and I remember it was quite a big ceremony.
Wat Pho is an amazing piece of historical real estate, one that you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Bangkok. As indicated in this Blog’s name, Wat Pho is the birthplace of Thai Massage. What this means is the area of the Temple was used to develop healthful massage techniques, kind of like a medical school of long ago. To continue this tradition, the temple maintains a massage school near the temple, teaching the local Thais to properly give “Thai Massage”.
Wat Pho has many names, the official name is “Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn. The Temples original name was Wat Pho Tharam. “Wat Pho” is the common name and means “Temple of the Bodi Tree”. The temple is also one the nine Royal Temples of the Chakri Dynasty, being built during the reign of King Rama I of that Dynasty.
Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram (Wat Phra Kaew) is also called "the Temple of the Emerald Buddha". This amazing temple is located adjacent to the Grand Palace and is filled with over a hundred ornate buildings and statues and sculptures most related to either Buddhism or Hindu. The grounds are ornate with many gardens and statues. These buildings are surrounded by walls on all sides, the entire wall is painted with scenes from Ramayana, which is a ancient Hindu Tail of the gods. Cameras are not allowed in this church so it is difficult to get a photo of the tiny (between 60 and 75 cm) Emerald Buddha. Not much is known for certain about the statue, except that it isn't actually made of emerald but rather of green jade or jasper. The tiny sacred Buddha is ceremoniously has a change of clothes with each change of season.
Information, photos and videos of great destinations in Bangkok. Click here to view a list of Articles about Bangkok Destinations.
Bangkok's 9 Royal Temples
Bangkok Must Sees
Exploring Thailand's Nature
Islands of the Thai Gulf
Thailand's Royal Palaces
Thailand and World War 2
Explore Chiang Rai
Explore Chiang Mai