Worthy of a half-day visit
Published/Last edited or updated: 29th February, 2016
After finding the place well suited to quiet breaks from Bangkok, King Rama V commissioned the palace to include an unusual mix of Thai, Chinese and European architecture in the late 19th century.
Near the entrance, a wooden exhibition hall contains background info on Thai kings and the history of the Palace. The checkered marble verandas of Thansana Tower are worth the climb to catch a cool breeze and take in 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 inlaid furniture and an elaborate camel bone carving. By all accounts King Rama V liked a lot of company, and the small houses found along the outer wall were designated for his lady friends.
By now it could be time for a cold drink and what better setting than Therawat Khanlai Gate, which overlooks a Thai-style pavilion in the lake. It’s possible to find a quiet shady spot and enjoy these lovely grounds perhaps with a picnic or book, but be warned that local tourists arrive by the busloads on weekends.
Also don’t miss Wat Niwet Thammaprawat, a one-of-a-kind Gothic-style Thai Buddhist temple within walking distance of the palace in Bang Pa-In town. You could make this a full-day excursion by taking a tuk tuk to the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre, located 20 kilometres south of Bang Pa-In in the village of Bang Sai. Bring an Ayutthaya map from the tourist info office, as it has a guide and map of Bang Pa-In on the back.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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