Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace in Bangkok are some of the most impressive and magnificent feats of human architecture I have ever seen. I was in awe almost the entire time I was there. However, there are quite a few things that I wish I had known before going straight there. Luckily, I found out that there was a dress code before I left, and put on pants. My friend, on the other hand, brought leggings to change in to, only to find out those were not allowed either. That brings me to the first thing you should know.
Adhere to their dress code or else you will have a hard time struggling to walk in a thick, long skirt. It will likely be extremely hot on the day you go, and wearing one of these skirts makes the heat even more brutal. My girlfriend almost suffered from a heatstroke after just an hour of walking around.
Bring a lot of water. If you don’t want to feel rushed while exploring the incredible grounds and temples, you will want to keep yourself properly hydrated during your time there. There are some drinking water stations, but if you don’t want to go out of your way to find them, you should have at least some water of your own.
This place is huge. I was planning on tackling Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun all on the same day. I could spend well over two hours at Wat Phra Kaew alone. If it wasn’t for the heat and how tired we were, we probably would have stayed a lot longer. That being said, you will probably get tired from exploring. You’ll be doing a lot of walking if you want to explore all of the grounds. Pace yourself because Wat Phra Kaew is definitely one of the places you should stop to smell the roses.
There are going to be a lot of people. Being at Wat Phra Kaew was like being in Disney World. It was one of the most crowded places I have ever been, and although it did have its quiet little corners, for the most part, we were battling with crowds for walking room and photo opportunities. It is a bit hard to get an authentic, spiritual experience here, but the place is one of the most magnificent displays of architecture and detail I have ever seen. If you want something a little more quiet and spiritual, I recommend Wat Pho next door where we were able to explore at a more relaxed pace. It is also home to the famous Wat Pho massage school and we were able to get massages after exploring the grounds for an hour.
Go as early as you can. We got to the entrance at around 9AM and it was already really crowded. As we were walking out a little before noon, the crowd had ballooned. There was a long line to get in, and I couldn’t imagine how much more crowded the actual grounds would have been if we had waited until later in the morning. I believe the temple opens at 8AM and closes at around 4 PM. It gets much hotter throughout the day, so I’d say getting there as soon as it opens would be the best time to go.
Be respectful. Wat Phra Kaew is one of the holiest sites of the Buddhist religion, so as a visitor, you should adhere to their customs. That means no shoes in the holy temples, wearing proper attire, and not being silly or disrespectful to their holy figures. I learned that using Buddha as a decoration is highly frowned upon, or possibly even illegal in Thailand. That means using it to decorate your home or getting a Buddha tattoo is just poor judgment. Don’t take silly or vulgar pictures with the statues and temples, and just don’t be a bad tourist.
If you follow these tips, your trip to Wat Phra Kaew will hopefully be more pleasant than mine was. I still enjoyed my visit a lot, but definitely wish I was more prepared for it. Going to Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace were definitely among my favorite parts of my trip to Thailand.