1. The Grand Palace and The Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew):
Chedi: Bell shaped structure or monument housing sacred relics associated with the Buddha
Prang: A tower-like spire, usually richly carved
This spectacular monument and temple is the utmost sacred Buddhist place of worship in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha It is also the former residence of the Thai Monarch and is today the “must visit” attraction in Bangkok.
I read the whole process and getting in and out in my lonely planet guide as well as many sites online. I booked my hotel in the area (Rattanakosin) and was also very careful to respect the strict dress code, long sleeve and down the knee trouser or skirt.
On leaving the hotel, it took me about 15 minutes to walk to the main entrance, I had to return for my passport because it was necessary to show it at one of the security layers before arriving near the entrance. Arriving at the entrance, as I expected, there were large numbers of people, particularly massive groups who meticulously followed their tour guides (same way I do when I take a tour). The cost to get in was 500 bath (£12, COP42000), which was what I expected. I also decided to rent an audio guide for additional 200 bath (£4.70, COP17000), though I was warned that it is only valid for an hour and a half, after that I would be charge again another 200 bath. I had to leave my passport to guarantee my return.
I was given a map to follow and that’s how I started the tour: The Hermit Doctor was my first view, then the gallery around the temple, which holds 178 of murals! I must say they were superb to look at. I then followed through various buildings covered in gold mosaic relics of Buddha.
The whole complex is absolutely magnificent. It was a very hot day, and this is something that usually bothers me, but that day I was so distracted by these marvels, that it did not seem to bother me much. There was also a model of Angkor Wat (so looking forward to seeing the real one soon!). I also walked through the two chedis, which are both surrounded by numerous mythical creatures.
There were eight prangs which represent eight Buddhist precepts. The best viewpoint and photo spot of these buildings is right in front of the Royal Chapel of the Emerald Buddha. I then enter the Royal Chapel, for which I had to remove my shoes. In front of me, I encountered a truly detailed crafted shrine surrounded by murals ad with a small Emerald Buddha statue. This statue is made of Jade and only measures only 66 centimeters; still, it is the most revered Buddha image in Thailand. It was pretty special to be there and see it all in person. I then wandered around, well aware my one and half hour had already run out, I checked other statues and building, that I could not describe here all, there were so many! But the whole experience was well worth the visit, I would recommend it to anyone coming to Bangkok, it is a must. I recommend at least three hours to be able to walk slowly without hurry, although at this time of the year the temperatures are about 35C Celsius, so a hat and plenty of water are also advised.
When I returned my audio guide, I was not charged in the end the extra time. As I left I found plenty or restaurants to have lunch and also plenty of street vendors, I choose the latter. One last thing! In Bangkok, I discovered that one has to be for sudden changes of weather! Few moments after I left the palace, I went for a little walk around the area, when suddenly the biggest downpour of all times occurred! I try to hurry up to the hotel, but the time I walked all the way, I was completely soaked wet
One last thing! In Bangkok, I discovered that one has to be for sudden changes of weather! Few moments after I left the palace, I went for a little walk around the area, when suddenly the biggest downpour of all times occurred! I try to hurry up to the hotel, but the time I walked all the way, I was completely soaked wet!
2. Next Day: Wat Pho: (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Entry cost 100bath, (£2.40, COP8500). This temple is much less crowded than the Grand Palace, and still an amazing visit. It is most famous for being the home of the city’s largest reclining buddha, which is over 46 meters long and 16 meters high. I was truly stunned to see such big structure in front of me. Due to some maintenance of the feet, some of it was covered, but still pretty spectacular.
This temple is also famous for holding the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. I took my time to wander around and appreciate the wonders of this breath-taking structure. I spent approximately two hours there, which I considered a good time to wander around. managed to take pretty good shots. Absolutely a recommended visit as well, and very close the Grand Palace.
3. Wat Arun: (Temple of Dawn)
This one, I was so looking forward to visiting. I had seen some videos on youtube, so and I was really looking forward to the climb.
This temple is also a very short distance of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. The way to do it is to arrive at Tien Pier and cross by ferry, the crossing cost only 4 bath! I think that is the cheapest thing I have ever paid for in my life! The pier is full of food and souvenirs vendors, so I took advantage to buy me a raincoat for only 50 bath. The boat was actually quite full of both foreigners as well as local people. The crossing takes only a few minutes since is right opposite the pier.
Entry cost 50bath, (£1.20, COP4250). This is another incredible temple for an exceptional entry price. Once I arrived I found the steep stairway on the side of the prang, this is the want I had seen in the video, but unfortunately, it was close for renovations, so I was not able to climb it: ☹.
The temple’s massive main prang, with over 80 meters of height and their other four smaller prangs, makes the temple easily identifiable from the distance.
The Wat Arun, commonly known as “the Temple of Dawn”, is one the highest grade of the Royal Temples, and consequently one of Thailand’s most revered temples too.
4. Erawan Shrine:
Once I finished my visit to Wat Arun, my last visit of the day was Erawan Shrine, I had read about it in my lonely planet guide, so I added to my list of the day.
From Wat Arun, I took a Chao Phraya Express Boat to Shri Phraya for 15 bath and from there I took a taxi-meter for another 70 bath (I was quite tired at that point). My Google maps app was again helpful on finding my way geographically, yet again, it does not feature at all the boat services within Bangkok.
Once I sat down nicely on a bench, I started my usual reading time to learn more about my visit. This is a famous Hindu Shrine, and it houses a statue of Phra Phrom, the Hindu God Brahma. Thailand’s main religion is Buddhism (90%), but Hinduism is also practiced by a minority. At the time of my visit (around 3 pm), there were several worshippers. According to my readings, this shrine was built to eliminate the bad karma that had caused laying foundations of a hotel in a “wrong date”.
This one is free, and it is located in the financial district, which was new to me (I was stating in Rattanakosin district, the other side of the city), next to the shrine is the Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel, which is gigantic.
It is a nice visit, but only go if you are near the area or Hindu. Not really that impressive under my point of view.
Thanks for reading and have all super happy weekend!