Grand Palace#4 in Best Things To Do in Bangkok
The Grand Palace will probably be on the itineraries of most first-time travelers to Bangkok. That's because the complex once served as the residence for multiple Thai kings, their royal courts, as well as multiple branches of government, including defense and treasury departments. Though royalty nor the government has resided here for hundreds of years, that hasn't stopped tourists from making a detour. Should you venture within the palace's walls, you'll find numerous ornate structures that feature an interesting mix of Thai and European-style architecture. But the most popular site in the palace by far is the Wat Phra Kaew temple, which houses a sacred emerald Buddha statue.
Recent visitors say the palace is definitely something to behold, but strongly suggested planning before you go. The first thing you need to consider is your apparel. Travelers say the attraction adheres to a strict dress code. Here, shoulders and knees must be completely covered, so be sure to bring pants or a long skirt with you. If you don't have the appropriate attire, you can purchase clothing on-site. The palace is also insanely crowded, to the point where some travelers didn't even enjoy their time there. If you can swing it, arrive as soon as the attraction opens. And if you want to really understand the history behind the palace (and there's a lot of it), many visitors suggested securing a tour guide while there, which you can find on-site. Those who did hire a tour guide appreciated the attraction a lot more and were happy not having to wander the complex around wondering which buildings held what significance.
The Grand Palace is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, but if there are special events (royal and state events still occur here), the palace buildings will close to the public. Ask your hotel concierge to confirm that the palace is open before you visit. Admission costs 500 baht (about $15). You'll find the Grand Palace in the Old City right across the street from the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
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#1 Wat Arun
Wat Arun, meaning "Temple of the Dawn," is named for the Hindu god Aruna, God of Dawn. And fittingly, this 270-foot temple is glorious to behold at dawn or sunset. The temple is covered from top to bottom with mosaics, pieced together by Chinese porcelain. To experience it, visitors can pay a small admission price to climb inside the temple's central prang, but keep in mind that the steps are steep and the stairway is very narrow.
Many travelers rave about Wat Arun for its beauty and tranquility – that is if you get there before the crowds. Recent visitors report crowds here aren't as bad as they are at the Grand Palace or Wat Pho but it's still best to get here early if you want to experience the attraction at its most peaceful. No matter what time you go, be sure your knees and shoulders are covered. And depending on where you go in Wat Arun, you may be required to take your shoes off.
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