Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

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Wat Phra Kaew was built to enshrine its namesake Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha), Thailand’s most sacred image of Buddha. It’s an epic stunning complex of more than 100 buildings including the former residence of the Thai monarch, the Grand Palace. Completed in 1782 and its Bangkok’s biggest tourist attraction and a pilgrimage destination for Thai’s and Buddhists. The grand buildings are covered in gold leaf, blazing with jewels, colour and plenty of solid marble. There are also beautiful murals all around depicting the Ramakien, Thailand’s national epic derived from the Hindu epic Ramayana. Most buildings of the Grand Palace are off limits for visitors, but you can get all the splendour from the outside. At some stage, the Emerald Buddha became highly revered, and Thai kings draw moral and spiritual authority from their perceived connection to the image. Nobody knows where and when Phra Kaew was created. Only the Thai king or crown prince is allowed to touch it, and there has been no official dating of it . The myths would have it created over 2000 years ago by the Hindu god Indra in India. Wat Phra Kaew certainly isn’t its first home; it was enshrined in Vientiane’s Wat Phra Kaew (same name) in Laos for over 200 years, and some other places prior to that before its move to Bangkok. The move was because a general, later to become King Rama I, successfully attacked the Laos capital and brought the image back to Bangkok. Given its grand history, prominent stature and epic enshrinement, you may be a little surprised to hear it is only 66cm tall. Also, Phra Kaew is actually made of nephrite, a type of jade with a deep emerald hue. Well, the best things come in small packages and if the package is a stunning wat, everybody’s happy! The Chao Phraya River Express Boat stops at Tha Chang Pier (N9) just next to the complex. From the pier walk straight ahead down the alley to the street, keep walking following the large white wall on your right until you reach the palace entrance. It’s just a few mins walk north of the Wat Pho. *SCAM ALERT* - Ignore anybody on the way to telling you the complex is closed or that they are a guide. You can get an official guide from next to the ticket kiosk, and audio guides can be rented for 200B for two hours. *DRESS CODE* - Your knees and shoulders need to be covered. If you’re not meeting the dress code, you can hire a sarong to cover up near the front gate. Entrance: 500B and is open daily 8:30am - 3:30pm Address: 2 Na Phra Lan Rd, Bangkok Website: http://grandpalacebangkok.com/

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