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In a city where one majestic attraction simply flows into the next, it can be hard to do justice to all the attractions of Bangkok. However some sights are worthwhile as much for first timers as for repeat guests. The Grand Palace is certainly one of the top Bangkok attractions.
Any movement around this vast capital requires some time and know how, but rest assured with so many millions of people there is more than enough transportation. The best way to approach the Grand Palace complex is from the Chao Praya River. The speedy boats which transport tourists zip up and down the waterways and anyone will be able to make out the distinct grandeur of the complex, however if you’re keeping track of stops, look out for Wat Pra Kaew.
The Grand Palace complex is not just one facility, it is like layers of an onion. There are loads of courtyards, halls, temples and palaces all surrounded by a thick white wall that sturdily secures the compound. Signs for entrance and exit are well posted around the walls and following the flow of foot traffic is a good way to find the entrance as well. The King of Thailand does not actually live here, these are ceremonial halls for official functions. Be aware that scammers will stand around the entrances telling tourists the grounds are closed except for tourists who go with them and similar stories.
The unmistakable sign of this complex is the shimmering beauty of the vibrant reds, greens yellows and oranges. These are colors of Theravada Buddhism which are seen on the roof tiles of the finely designed British designed structures. One of the most famous Buddha shrines is housed within these walls. The Emerald Buddha is a statue with a mysterious past and the source of much power and struggle. It is amazing to see the worshippers and well wishers as well as tourists who pass through these courtyards.
There is a fee to enter the palace grounds starting at 400baht per person. Prices vary upwards depending on extras that can be added. The hours of visitation are from 8:30am till 3:30pm daily, however be sure and check that no ceremonies or official business will close the compound on a given day. On select holidays like New Years Day portions of the grand palace are open free of charge to the public, however crowds of worshippers are immense. Guided tours are available but are really unnecessary unless one would like to spend a really long time inside, the self guided walk takes up quite a bit of time anyways. Be aware that one must dress appropriately to enter the grounds, which means most things covered with long sleeves, there are clothes to be used by tourists for a deposit of 200 bahts.