5 Monuments and landmarks that first-timers should include in their Bangkok sightseeing tripsby Atthasith Khupratakul
1. The Grand Palace
While frequent visitors often shy away from this landmark these days, the Grand Palace, which is situated in a compound that also houses the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaeo), is a must for every first-time Bangkok visitor. Wat Phra Kaeo is regarded as the holiest of all Thai temples, and the small green-jade statue of the Lord Buddha sitting high on a golden altar in the Chapel Royal is the most sacred Buddha image in the country. But the Emerald Buddha is just one of the many attractions in the compound. Next to the Emerald Buddha Temple is the Grand Palace, which is now used only for certain royal ceremonies. Four major buildings, built in a mix of Western and Eastern architecture, are closed to the public but visitors can walk around the buildings and shoot photos between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. There is an admission fee but many foreigners say it’s worth it. Proper dressing is required.
2. Vimanmek Mansion
An elegant teakwood mansion used by King Rama V between 1902 and 1906, Vimanmek Mansion is one of the best surviving examples of teakwood constructions in Thailand. The mansion consists of a three-storey European-style teakwood building built without nails. Today, the mansion is a museum where King Rama V’s possessions are displayed. The Royal Carriage museum houses the carriages, which are mostly imported from Europe during the king’s reign, and the Aphisek Dusit Throne Hall houses several priceless handicrafts. Open for visits from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3. Anantasamakhom Palace and the Parliament
The reign of King Rama V and VI saw an explosion of fine colonial architecture that survived to this day. The Anansamakhom Palace was built in the Italian architectural style, and was primarily used to hold important royal and state ceremonies for parliamentarians. Later, a new parliament building was built at the back of the palace.
4. Democracy Monument
Just before reaching Khao Sarn and Sanam Luang, there is another imposing landmark on Rachadamnoen Road: The Democracy Monument. Built to commemorate Thailand’s change from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy on June 24, 1932, it stands as a testament to that turning point in the kingdom’s history.
5. Statue of King Rama V
King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) modernized Thailand. His efforts were wellknown and widespread and he remains as one of the most loved kings of Thailand. This statue on Racchadamnoern Road was inaugurated by the king himself.