Bangkok City, that amazing four time winner of the Best Destination City in the World is one of the most exciting and intriguing cities in the World. A perfect blend of old and new, exotic tour destinations, great food and entertainment that makes it little wonder that it is a most sought after travel destination for tourist and visitors of all nature and nationalities.
Visitors to Bangkok are spoil for choice on tour destinations for Bangkok City. However, a good place to always start is from the historical background of the city. Listed among the top 10 destinations for Bangkok City, tours of the marvelous temples, palaces and historical places are top of the list. Our review of the Amazing Bangkok half day Grand Palace, Wat Phra Keaw and Wat Arun temple private tour will give you an insight of what the tour entails and to give you some pointers of what to look out for that makes these three places so outstanding in tourism for Bangkok City.
The Amazing Bangkok Half Day Tour (Private Tour for 2-3 Person) Royal Grand Palace, Wat Phra Keaw, Wat Arun by Thaitourismguide is one of the most fascinating tours available for those who want a first-hand tour of these magnificent structures. You will get into a glimpse of how the temples are the base of Thai culture, the predominant religion of Buddhism in Thailand, the amazing architecture and craftsmanship that adorns the buildings and the beliefs and traditions of the basic Thai life. There are two tour times available for this package but we do recommend the early morning half day tour so that it is not too hot as you walk around the temple grounds. The entire tour lasts around four hours starting from 8.00 am to 12.oo pm or 12.00 pm to 4.30 pm on a daily basis.
The morning tour starts at 8.00 am with a pick-up from your hotel, so it is best if you have a hearty breakfast before you go on this tour as there will be plenty of walking around. Please do make a note that there is a very strict dress code which is applicable to both men and women when you are visiting the temple and Grand Palace. This means appropriate dressing with no shorts, short skirts, tight fitting pants, singlet including sleeveless shirts and vests, sweat shirts and hoodies, see-through blouses and shirts or even quarter length trousers, and sandals without heel or ankle straps. If you are not appropriately dressed, you will be required to rent the appropriate dressing from the temple and palace tourism centre for a fee by the administration staff of these places. So do make a note of that and there is no smoking in the area. You are advised to keep close to your tour guide as it is easy to get left behind in the large temple and palace grounds.
After the pick-up from your hotel, your Tourism Authority of Thailand certified English speaking guide will accompany you throughout the tour until your return to the hotel. Along the way, enroute to the first place which is the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha, you will get a glimpse of the city around the Khaosan area and area of administration for the country with several colonial styled administrative buildings and shopping areas. The famous back packers destination of Khaosan Road is located nearby which is a hub for entertainment, cheap hostels, shopping, the flower market and off course the ferry jetties along the Chao Phraya River as well as Yaowarrat (Chinatown)on the other side.
The tour of the Grand Palace included a very detailed history of the place from the time it was built in 1782 to present day, an explanation on the size and administrative buildings within the Palace walls, the different royal residences and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha also known as Wat Phra Kaew. The Grand Palace with all its spectacular and dazzling buildings is the home, Royal court and administrative office of the Thai King and government. When you are walking around and listening to the narratives of your tour guide, make a note of the beautiful and intricate architectural beauty as well as details that are a testimony to the skill and craftsmanship of the Thai artisans. One of the most impressive buildings in the outer court within the Grand Palace complex is the royal chapel, Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the small 14th century highly revered and greatly prized Phra Kaew Morakot also known as the Emerald Buddha which was carved from a single block of deep green Jade. At certain times of the year during the Buddhist calendar, there is a ritual of dressing the Emerald Buddha with new robes by HM the King of Thailand to represent the changing of season from winter, spring and the rainy season. The statue is raised on multiple platforms and no one except HM the King of Thailand is allowed anywhere near it. While you are here, it is important to respect the sanctity of the place by being polite and not speaking too loudly or getting in the way of worshippers at the temple. Marvel at the intricate and exquisite details carved and painted on the facades of these marvelous structures.
When you walk the grounds of the Grand Palace, don’t just look down or at eye level, look up to the wonderful roof designs which are like stupas with multiple levels and each one finely detailed and painted in gleaming gold paint. The walls of some of the buildings contain rows of exquisite Garuda demi-god figures interlinking with each other. Few other places in the world contain such wonderful sculptures. All around are huge sculptures of other deities and Gods of the Buddhist religion that adorn the pillars, walls and roofs of the buildings in the Grand Palace including two huge and imposing warrior like God statues that guard the entrance way to the Centre Court. This place is full of photo opportunities and one of the things to look out for is the textile museum in the Grand Palace where you will get a glimpse of the textiles that were produced by the courtesans and craftsmen during the reign of the Thai Kings.
Another attraction of the Grand Palace is the Balcony where the walls contain the most well documented history of the Ramayana epic on murals and columns that contain inscribed verses that explain the meaning of each section of the mural. This is where you will find the guardians of the balcony, five meter tall giants called the “Yaksa Tavarnbal” or Gate-Keeping Giants. Nearby is also a miniaturized version of the Angkor Wat built by the order of King Rama IV and later recreated in plaster by HM King Rama V. This tour takes around two hours before moving on to take a river boat and cross the Chao Phraya River over to Wat Arun also known as The Temple of Dawn.
Wat Arun is located on the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River directly opposite Wat Pho. To actually see the effect of the magnificence of this temple and why it was named the “Temple of Dawn” is to actually see it in the very early morning as the sun rises or in the evenings at sunset when the temple is silhouetted against the city background and light from the rays of the sun is caught on the ceramic surface of the temple façade, giving it a golden hue and a mystical look.
Wat Arun is a temple constructed in a Khmer Pagoda style and served as the Royal Chapel for King Thaksin of the Thonburi era. Named after the Indian God of Dawn, Aruna, the majestic temple is the most outstanding landmark along the Chao Phraya River as well as any other riverside monuments in Thailand.
As you look at Wat Arun approaching from the ferry, you will notice four spires known as prangs and a central large prang. The four prangs, one on each side of the four corners that make up the temple complex are symbolic of the four directions of which the centre prang is the centre of the universal mind. The four corner prangs house the guardian gods and you will be able to see a good collection of Gods and demi-god sculptures in these four prangs. You will spend about two hours touring this temple so be prepared to walk and climb many staircases!
Wat Arun is known as one of the most astounding, mystical and beautiful temples in Thailand. The unusual Khmer influenced design of the seventy meters high central spire and decorated with bits of glass and recovered Chinese porcelain from shipwrecks, inlaid to delicate and intricately designed patterns makes this one of Thailand’s most world-famous icons.
The centre spire is the most intriguing and also the most physically demanding in terms of getting to the top to enjoy the view. It requires good stamina to climb the narrow steep steps to the pinnacle. Those who have the energy and are not faint-hearted about heights will be rewarded by an excellent view of the city, Wat Po, the Grand Palace, the winding Chao Phraya River and surrounding areas from the spire top. Caution is advised when climbing these steps which are very steep and narrow but there is a railing to help support your balance and the steps are as tricky going up as they are coming down.
At the base of the central prang there are sculptures of animals and Chinese Soldiers. The thing to observe at Wat Arun is the intricacies of the ceramic and glass inlays that adorn the temple façade. Little pieces of glass baubles and ceramic are painstakingly cut into shapes of leaves and flower petals then inlaid into the walls. If you look closely, you will find that these ceramic pieces are actually from old bowls of Chinese and Western designs. This is because when the temple was undergoing restoration, it was a period of trade between China and the Western world and where some of these merchant vessels sank in the port, the cargo was retrieved and broken pieces of the cargo were recycled to be used as decorations for the temple. A very innovative and one could say early efforts of recycling!
The statues of God and Deities in the temple are also of Khmer and Chinese origin. You will find that some of the deities such as the half man-bird known as the Garuda are very similar to those you will find in Bali or India. This is because when Buddhism was spread throughout South East Asia it came from India and China through Khmer therefore the similarity in some of the statues and sculptures.
The beauty of Wat Arun lies in the ornate sculptures, intricate inlays, Khmer style pagoda, roofing structure and the view from the top most point of the temple. Your guide will explain to you the history and origins of Wat Arun but keep your eyes peeled for the design work and fascinating sculptures.
It wil do well to note that appropriate dressing is a must in any temple in Thailand. Booking the tour from thaitourismguide includes full transfer from your hotel to the various sites as mentioned in the tour itinerary and your guide is a TAT certified English speaking guide with good knowledge of the places. This particular tour is also a private tour so that means a booking of two persons minimum is required. The Grand Palace and temple experience tours are normally the first stop of any travel itinerary in Bangkok and the splendour of these places is worth a tour while opening your eyes and mind into Amazing Thailand with its culture, religion and monarchy which is seldom found anywhere else in the world.