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The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew: An Educational Trip for All

Siripun Sinbuathong 15.07.2010 03:05
Miss Amanda Barrett (left) and Pattaya Times Reporter Siripun Sinbuathong (right) in front of one of the many spectacular temples at Wat Pra Kaew.

Miss Amanda Barrett (left) and Pattaya Times Reporter Siripun Sinbuathong (right) in front of one of the many spectacular temples at Wat Pra Kaew.

No trip to Thailand is complete without visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Both are situated in the Banglamphu area of Bangkok, also referred to as the ‘Old City’. It is only a two-hour drive from Pattaya and can be easily reached by taxi from the heart of Bangkok for about 80 baht.

Wat Phra Kaew is known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and is considered as one of the world’s most spectacular holy places. Within its walls are the finest examples of Buddhist architecture, paintings and sculpture in Thailand.

The highlight of the site is the Emerald Buddha itself, housed inside a magnificent hall with walls decorated in an Ayuthaya-style mural describing the life of the Buddha and the Buddhist religion. Despite being just over sixty centemeters tall, the Emerald Buddha is one of Thailand’s most sacred. It is covered in a costume that is changed three times a year depending on the season. The changing of the costume is an important ritual performed by the King. The two sets of costumes not used are kept on display at the Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Thai Coins just near the entrance to the Temple.

The surrounding areas are just as magnificent as the Emerald Buddha itself. The inside walls of the compound are decorated with murals that portray the entire Ramakien story. The 178 scenes begin at the north gate and continuing clockwise.

There are also several monuments in the temple grounds, the most interesting of which are the three pagodas to the immediate north of the ubosoth, the Phra Si Ratana Chedi, and the Phra Mondop, a library built in Thai style by Rama I.

Miss Amanda Barrett, 22, a tourist from Australia said, “Going to the temples and seeing the Emerald Buddha was such an amazing spiritual experience. It also blew my mind to hear that the mirror mosaic that decorates the temples was all hand crafted. It was such an uplifting and an educational day out. I would recommend this to not only foreigners but to Thai people as well.”

To be allowed in The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew you must dress appropriately. There will be guards at the front who will be checking if your outfit is appropriate enough. If you do not have long sleeved shirts/blouses or long trousers or dresses/skirts with you, it is possible to hire cloths at the gates of the Palace. This cloth can be wrapped around you and worn as a ‘Sarong’ or across your shoulders.

Always keep in mind that under no circumstances must you point your feet at the Emerald Buddha. If you cannot cross your legs, avoid sitting down. If you do point your feet at the Buddha image, you could be ejected. Photography inside the Emerald Buddha Chapel is strictly forbidden. This is not just a requirement of the chapel; taking pictures of Buddha images is against the law.

Admission fee is 200 Baht for foreigners, but Thais are admitted free. The fee also includes tickets to the Coin Pavillion, Vimanmek Mansion and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall, all of which are worth seeing in their own right. The site is open from 8.30am to 12pm and 1pm to 3.30pm.

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