The Grand Palace
This was the first destination in our itinerary. The dazzling, shinning, shimmering Grand Palace is one of the famous landmarks of Bangkok, and serves as the home of the Thai King. Your eyes will surely feast and marvel at the high and glistening spires and intricate golden embellishments of the temple walls. The Palace is a huge compound so you need to allot about 2-3 hours exploring the area. From Khao San to the Grand Palace is about a 15-min taxi ride (metered taxi cost us THB40). The Palace opens at 8:30AM but better come there early, as it gets really crowded with tourists. Entrance fee is THB500. Note however of the following:
- They observe a dress code in here (e.g., sleeveless shirt/blouse, shorts or leggings, open shoes are not allowed)
- Tripod is not allowed
- There is no exit at the south end of the Palace, so you need to go back the way you came in (the only public exit is the same as the public entrance, which is at the north end).
Lunch at Tha Chang Market
Thai street food and market is a wonderful experience, especially for someone like me who has always been a fan of Thai cuisine. Honestly, we were primarily here to eat authentic Pad Thai, and yes, we were not disappointed! There are quite a few food stalls in here offering lots of choices for local Thai food and fruits/vegetables. If you don’t want your food to be spicy, you can say: “‘kaw, mai phet” (or “not spicy please”). We spent around THB180 for an order of seafood Pad Thai, chicken rice meal and 2 orders of milk coffee. Yum!!!
* How to go to Tha Chang Market from the Grand Palace: From the entrance/exit of the Grand Palace, cross the street and immediately turn left. Go straight walking the street of Na Phra Lan. Upon reaching the intersection or road junction, you will see a market on the opposite side so you need to cross the street. The Tha Chang Market is on the right side.
It’s about a 10-min walk from Tha Chang Market to Tha Thien Pier (go back to the entrance of the market, turn right and walk straight for a few minutes, until you pass by a park then an intersection or road junction, then turn right). Right next to the Tha Tien Pier is a pier that has cross-river boats going to Wat Arun, each ride only costs THB3.
“Wat” in Thailand refers to a Buddhist temple. The Wat Arun, also known as the “Temple of Dawn,” was named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn. (Source: http://www.watarun.net/). I was really amazed at the impressive ceramic details of the temple. Wat Arun is seated at the Chao Phraya River, and is one of the most stunning riverside landmarks of Thailand, especially at sunset. Entrance to the temple is THB50. The temple ground also has an area for shopping, featuring various souvenir items, such as: Thai shirts, bags, wallets, accessories, etc. So, you can head to this place before leaving the temple.
Loi Krathong Festival 2014
We were so lucky to have landed in Bangkok on the evening of the full moon in November, which is when the annual Loi Krathong Festival is celebrated across Thailand. “Loi” means “to float” while “Krathong” refers to a lotus-shaped basket or vessel containing candles, flowers, incense sticks, etc., which is released onto the water as one wishes for good luck and forgiveness of sins (Source: http://festivalasia.net/festivals/Loi-Krathong-2014.html). The site of the hundreds of lit krathongs floating away in the Chao Phraya River at night is truly magical, as the river slowly turns into a bed of lighted candles. The festival was made even livelier with the parade of illuminated boats and fireworks.