Even if you are not in Bangkok for the historic sights, the Grand Palace is something you should not miss! It has been the official residence of the Thai Kings since 1782 and sits right on the Chao Phraya river. The palace is made up of a number of gardens and courtyards, buildings and halls, situated on over 200,000 sqm and all surrounded by blindingly white walls. It also holds the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred temple in Thailand!
Before you head out to the Grand Palace, make sure you are appropriately dressed. That means long pants, shirts and shoes – no tank tops or flip flops. Similar clothing without bare shoulders is required for women. The best way to get to the Grand Palace is by river boat. You can use the public river cruise from anywhere along the Chao Phraya (read more about it here). From the boat, you will be able to see the white walls and temple buildings on the side of the river. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use the landing stage for the royal barge, but the public pier is a short walk from the Palace.
On the way to the palace, you might get to witness one of the most frequent scams in Bangkok: A friendly Thai might approach you and after short introductions tell you: “Sorry, Palace is closed today!” for a royal function or a holiday or such, followed by an invitation to take you to another, beautiful palace in his Tuk Tuk. Inevitably, along the way he will stop at a gem shop to buy stones or a travel shop to buy packages or tours – all of them will be ridiculously overpriced, which will pay for the commission the Tuk Tuk driver is getting for taking you there. So, just walk on with a friendly “no, thank you” until you reach the gates of the palace, which is most likely going to be open for business, as almost every day, usually from 8;30-15:30, for a fee of THB400. Check for updates here
Once you get to main gate, you can start to wander around the palace grounds. The palace is still used for royal offices and some of the buildings and courtyards are closed to visitors. Make sure that your stroll through the courtyards includes the Grand Palace Hall (Chakri Maha Prasat), Dusit Hall and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. If you have more time and energy, you can also visit the museum about the restoration of the palace or the museum covering the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.