Exploring The Grand Palace and Wat Pho in Bangkok
If you’re a temple enthusiast and love a little bit of history, Thailand is one of the countries you shouldn’t miss when doing a hunt. Although other countries in Asia have better-structured temples, Thailand is very easy to get around and has a laid back feel for tourists.
Add the cheap travel cost to that and you’ll be well on your way to exploring this beautiful land. It’s perfect for budget-conscious or first-time travelers.
There’s a main street in Bangkok called Khao San where solemn evenings transform into lively and fun party nights. It’s a hub for backpackers—diverse and accepting. People all over the world meet in this beautiful part of Bangkok for nights of loud music, good food, and get social.
Though a bit crowded, there are many things a solo backpacker can do in Khao San, especially during night where the excitement is at its peak. You can read about it here.
Khao San isn’t just a place to meet people but a good place to anchor for a few nights and days. You’ll never be at a loss for finding places to visit. Take for example the two famous temples in Thailand which are the Grand Royal Palace and What Pho. Both of these awesome temples are less than thirty minutes walk from Khao San Road.
Visiting Grand Palace
At the core of Bangkok is situated The Grand Palace. It serves as a residential home for the king and house government offices. It’s a good starting point to get acquainted with the history and learn several things about the country.
Before visiting The Grand Palace, here are some basic facts you should know.
1. There’s an entrance fee of THB 500 for foreign tourists upon entering. It’s a bit costly, but it’s worth it. It is open from 08:30 AM to 03:30 PM for all days of the week.
2. Dress modestly. The guards at the palace will check if you’re dressed appropriately before letting you in.
Tips: No shorts and leggings. Wear pants and long bottoms. Make sure to cover your shoulder and knees.
As for me, I didn’t know this, so I ended up buying a traditional Thai sarong for TBH 200 that I found around the corner.
Across the entrance, you can find local stores to buy or rent sarongs for a cover-up.
3. Thailand’s weather is similar to the Philippines. It is typically very hot in the summer. If you visit the palace during this time, bring a hat and water if you don’t want to end up burnt and dry.
4. Be wise and come early. The place is normally crowded with tourists. If you can be there before 9 AM, you can enjoy a moment of peace in exploring the temple.
5. Be reminded some people will try to rip you off. They’d tell you the palace is closed so you should get a special tour with them. Don’t fall for this trap. They’re scammers.
6. The highlights of the palace include the emerald buddha, the architecture, and the mask dance or show at the end. However, it appears the show is not an everyday activity at the palace.
7. It’s huge. It’s a little over 24 hectares, and there are many things to see you can dawdle for half a day there.
I stayed in Khao San and it was no more than twenty minutes walk from my hostel. That made it convenient.
Visiting Wat Pho
Wat Pho is another must-visit for first-time travelers to Thailand. The inside of the temple hosts the famous and largest reclining Buddha statue in Thailand. Additionally, it’s close The Grand Palace so you can visit these two temples as part of your one-day itinerary.
Here are some basic facts about Wat Pho.
1. It’s less than fifteen minutes from the Grand Palace. You can explore The Grand Palace first, then Wat Pho.
2. The entrance fee is TBH 200 for foreigners with a free bottle of water. Bring a water bottle with you for refills from the water fountains inside if you visit during summer. It opens from 08:00 AM to 06:30 PM.
3. As customary, dress modestly using long pants or skirts. Upon entering the reclining Buddha temple, you need to remove your shoes. There are bags provided where you can put your shoes inside and carry them with you.
4. This is also a crowded destination as tourists from The Grand Palace goes to Wat Pho next.
I find Wat Pho more laid-back and peaceful than The Grand Palace. If you have more free hours, you can join Buddhist ceremonies here.
Tips: I suggest you visit these two temples on the same day for convenience.
I find Thailand tourist-friendly and safe for first-time solo travelers. I met a female friend who had an awful experience with a local who followed her to her hotel. She told me about it.
Thankfully, all I had were good experiences from kind people. It might be perhaps because of my look. Many times, locals mistook me for a Thailandee which I corrected immediately. It didn’t bother me at all though. I had fun riding buses and immersing in their culture. More so, I had fun meeting people and making friends.
Inday “Still saving for the next trip” from Cebu