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 the entire time I was there. However, there are quite a few things that I wish I had known before going straight there. We had just gotten off a flight at around 5 AM and weren’t able to check in to our hostel yet. We decided that instead of feeling sorry for our jet lagged selves, we’d cut right to the chase and start exploring the chaos of Bangkok.
Bangkok is a bustling city rich with beautiful sights and incredible things to do. Unfortunately, our excitement was quickly met with the realization that we were quite unprepared for some of the adventures. Our first adventure would be to Bangkok’s Grand Palace and neighboring Wat Phra Kaew that shared the complex. To call us unprepared would be an understatement. Thankfully, we were unprepared so that you don’t have to be.
Entrance Fee For Bangkok’s Grand Palace
Bangkok is a cheap city. The food is cheap, the transportation is cheap, and for the most part, the top attractions are cheap. The Grand Palace does not fall into that category. There is an entrance fee that you will need to pay. Unlike most other temples, it’s no pocket change either. You will need to pay 500 baht, or about $15 USD to enter. Is it worth it? Without question.
What Is The Dress Code For Bangkok’s Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew?
A major thing to note about visiting Bangkok’s Grand Palace and its other temples is the dress code to adhere to. Luckily, I found out that there was a dress code before I left and put on pants. My friend changed into leggings. When we got there, we found out that those were not allowed either.
The dress code is pretty simple. Basically, keep your legs, shoulders, and midriff covered and you should be good. Remember, these are holy sites and you wouldn’t want someone waltzing into your church in booty shorts or topless. I get it, though. Bangkok is hot as hell.
And that’s why it’s even more important to adhere to their dress code on your own terms. If you don’t, they’ll make you follow the rules. You’ll be met with a thick, tight, black sarong down to your ankles. Bangkok is hot. It will be exponentially hotter inside that sarong. My friend felt like she was suffering from a heatstroke after just an hour of walking around in one of them.
Bring A Lot Of Water
Regardless of whether you are wearing that thick skirt or not, it will be hot. Make sure to be drinking a lot of water. We were already feeling quite under the weather after coming off of a lengthy flight, which was dehydrating us even more. If you don’t want to feel rushed while exploring the incredible grounds and temples, keep yourself properly hydrated. There are some drinking water stations, but if you don’t want to go out of your way to find them, bring some water of your own.
The Grand Palace is huge. There is so much to see and so much to look at. I was planning on tackling Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun all on the same day. Looking back, that was absolutely over-ambitious. I could spend well over three hours at Wat Phra Kaew alone. If it wasn’t for the heat and how tired we were, we probably could have stayed even 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 one of the places you should stop to smell the roses.
Go Early Or Late To Avoid The Crowds
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 to. Although it did have its quiet little corners, for the most part, we were battling crowds for walking room and photo ops. It is hard to get an authentic, spiritual experience here, but the place is one of the most magnificent displays of architecture and detail out there.
If you want something more quiet and spiritual, I recommend Wat Pho next door. We were able to explore its beautiful grounds 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.
Anyway, back to the Grand Palace. 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.
Don’t Be A Disrespectful Idiot Tourist
This is not just another Instagram photo op, although a lot of travelers treat it like so. Be respectful. Wat Phra Kaew is one of the holiest sites of the Buddhist religion. 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. 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.
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