The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) are to locals what the Eiffel Tower are to the French or the Pyramids are to Egyptians. It is the structure that Thais proudly consider best represents the city and nation. Revered by Thais, this landmark is one you shouldn’t miss this for the world when visiting Thailand.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha is home to the the holiest and most important object in the nation. The Emerald Buddha is the country’s palladium. The name actually refers to its color rather than the material – it is actually made of jasper. Dig a little deeper into its background and you will find a fascinating story of changing of many hands. Moving between at least six cities over a period of three centuries, the Emerald Buddha finally found its home here in the heart of Bangkok.
The Grand Palace, rather than being a single structure, is a series of magnificent buildings. Originally the seat and residence of the royal family, the Grand Palace today functions as a center for ceremonies and museums. The royal family has since moved to Dusit Palace further north. Bring a keen eye with you – there’s no other locale that exemplifies classical Thai architecture quite like this place.
Best time to visit is when it opens. The morning sun is still soft enough for you to enjoy the grounds while you stay ahead of the tourist masses.
Visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew requires proper clothing that is deemed modest (generally top attire with sleeves and bottom attire that go below the knees). Should you go unprepared, an office immediately on the right after you have entered the entrance gate loans out free clothing with a deposit that is fully refunded when you return them on the way out.
Be sure to explore the surrounding areas of North and South Rattanakosin Island. Things are spread out but still close enough to explore on foot.