Bang Pa-in Palace

Worthy of a half-day visit

Photo of Bang Pa-in Palace, , Ayutthaya

What we say: 3.5 stars

King Rama V liked to holiday here, but as things were becoming downtrodden he had the whole site made-over into what you see today.

Bang Pa-in Palace contains a variety of immaculate buildings nestled among manicured gardens, statue-lined bridges, ponds and fountains. Shame about the piped music, which some say adds to the experience.

Near the entrance a wooden exhibition hall contains all the background information on Thai kings and the history of the palace you may need. The chequered marble verandas of Thansana tower are worth the climb to catch a cool breeze and views over the grounds (mind your head going up the stairs). Nearby, the beautiful red and gold royal mansion features hand-painted ceramic floor tiles, mother-of-pearl inlay furniture, and an elaborate camel bone carving. By all accounts King Rama V liked a lot of company, and all the small houses you see along the outer wall surrounding this building were for his lady friends.

By now it could be time for a cold drink and what better setting than Therawat Khanlai Gate which overlooks the Thai style pavilion in the lake. It is possible to find a quiet shady spot and enjoy these beautiful grounds perhaps with a picnic, book, or maybe an iPod, but be warned weekends are packed with local tourists.

Bring your map of Ayutthaya from the tourist information office with you as it has a guide and map of the palace on the back.

The best way to get here from Ayutthaya is by train leaving every 45 minutes until 13:30. The trip takes 15 minutes and costs five baht. The palace is three kilometres from the station so take a tuk tuk for around 40baht.

Songthaews from Ayutthaya take a leisurely hour, cost 20 baht and you'll still need a tuk tuk at the end of the ride.

To charter a return tuk tuk from Ayutthaya, expect to pay around 500 baht including waiting time.

Finally, under your own steam, it's an easy countryside ride by moped.

More details
20km south of Ayutthaya
Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 to 16:00
How to get there: If going on your own, the main highway, Route 32, is the fastest way but keep in mind that it's a major truck route. The more relaxed and charming way would be to follow either Route 3477 on the east side of Chao Phraya River or Route 3469 on the west side.
Last updated: 27th November, 2014

About the author:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.
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Bang Pa-in Palace
20km south of Ayutthaya
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Sights in Ayutthaya