The world’s largest teak mansion
Published: 13th September, 2017
Said to be the largest teakwood building in the world, Vimanmek Mansion joins Ananta Samakhon Throne Hall as one of the two highlights found in Dusit (Celestial) Garden, which was established by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) at the turn of the 20th century.
Update: As of August 2017, Vimanmek Mansion is closed for renovation. No details have been provided as to when it will reopen.
First built under a different name for royal family getaways on Ko Si Chang, the mansion was dismantled and rebuilt at its current location after Rama V purchased a plot of orchards for a new set of palaces and halls. In 1906 the king moved up to Dusit from the Grand Palace and lived in Vimanmek straight until his death in 1910.
Queen Indrasakdi Sachi stayed in the mansion for a few more years, but after the Thai coup of 1932 it fell into disrepair and was used only as storage space for several decades. In the 1980s, Queen Sirikit instigated a restoration and the mansion was reopened as a museum exhibiting artefacts collected by King Chulalongkorn, including Siam’s first indoor shower and the first typewriter with Thai letters. You’ll also find dining halls, offices and bedrooms featuring antique furniture used by the king and his family.
Sporting a broad red ceramic roof over slender windows and gingerbread-style woodcarvings, Vimanmek was famously constructed without the use of nails. It displays an undeniable Western influence but with the elegance of Siamese craftsmanship. While Thai royalty still use some rooms in the vast three-storey mansion, many more are open to the public.
The mansion is easily the highlight of this section of Dusit Park, but a ticket also gets you access to several other buildings and museums. Most impressive among these is the Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall thanks to its intricate floral-design fretwork and coloured glass motifs. Siamese kings greeted foreign envoys and issued decrees from here until Ananta Samakhon Throne Hall was completed in 1915.
Other buildings worth a quick peek include a museum devoted to royal elephants; a replica of an early 19th-century royal greenhouse; and Tamnak Ho, another gorgeous wood mansion built for royal newlyweds. The grounds are spread out and interspersed with gardens, and after strolling around you could continue east to Ananta Samakhon and Wat Benchamabophit.
Proper attire—no shorts or sleeveless shirts—is required to enter all of the Dusit palaces, and sarongs can be rented if need be. Bags, phones and cameras must be left in lockers at the entrance.
The entrance to Vimanmek Mansion is off Ratchawithi Rd on the west side of the grounds, and city buses 5, 18, 56, 70, 72, 503 and 515 all pass within walking distance. Otherwise you could take a Chao Phraya river ferry (orange flag) to Thewet Pier and take a tuk tuk for around 100 baht.
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.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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