Thailand Day 3: Best of Bangkok: The Grand Palace and Nearby Temples

On our last full day in Bangkok, we did what should have been our first full day. If you want to be wowed, don’t skip the Grand Palace! Pictures do not do it justice and it should be a highlight of your time in Bangkok. Most people then visit a few of the nearby temples to round out some of the most impressive sights; we also visited Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and the Golden Mountain before heading back to our hotel.

The Grand Palace

After finishing another delicious hotel breakfast, we made our way to the local ferry, bought our super cheap 15THB, about $0.50USD, tickets on the “orange ferry,” and made our way to the Grand Palace, arriving a few minutes before opening.

The lines were still reasonably short, so we were pleased. These tickets were some of the most expensive in Thailand, at 500THB each, about $17USD, but were well worth the cost. If your kids happen to be under 120cm, they can get in free, but our preteen boys are taller than quite a few adults that we encountered, so no such luck for us.

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When Jeremy came alone, he arrived about an hour after opening, and found the place quite crowded, but was much happier this time around. Get there early if at all possible!

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My favorite part of the palace were the jeweled columns. The beauty was breathtaking!

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All the guardians were quite cool, plus the half man, half rooster made us laugh.

We took our time wandering around. The boys liked the multiple headed snakes and all the gold. While at the Jim Thompson house, they explained that the seven headed snake had special significance, so my guess is that this 5 headed snake does too.

The statues were also a lot of fun to look at.

Not only were the statues, columns, and tiled statues beautiful, but there were also some nice murals that we wandered by. This was one of John’s favorites:

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As the crowds started to pick up, we made our way towards the exit, enjoying the sights on the way.

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Definitely a highlight that is worth a splurge!

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We also visited the small military and textile museum near the exit.

Wat Pho

Seeing the Grand Palace should only take a couple of hours unless you are really into the history and enjoy ridiculous crowds for long periods of time. The temple of Wat Pho is a 5 minute walk down the road and makes a good combination with the Grand Palace. On the walk, make sure to pick up some water/snacks at the stalls if you’re running low.

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Tickets are much cheaper, at 200THB or about $7USD, and while the temple is really impressive, you will not spend near as much time here. Fewer jewels, but sill a lot of incredible detail.

This temple is best known for the largest reclining buddha in Thailand. We wandered around for a while, but when one of the boys and I started fading from the heat, we decided to head out and find some lunch.

Lunch

There are a lot of restaurants in this area, although most of them are quite touristy. We found one that looked reasonable, and I continued my obsession with my Tom Yum soup. The seafood was better than the day before, but the broth was a dim candle to what my taste buds had experienced at the other restaurant.

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Wat Arun

Feeling a bit more refreshed, we made our way to the ferry across the river to Wat Arun.  We had to wait in line for a few minutes, and paid the 15 cent fare across. The temple was interesting, but we were hot and tired, so we didn’t spend as long here.

Golden Mountain

Even though I was starting to fade from the heat, we decided to go ahead and take a taxi to the Golden Mountain.

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The walk up has 343 steps, but they are quite shallow and the scenery is shady and beautiful.

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If you want a great view of the city, this is the place to come!

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Swim and Rest

While Jeremy was still having fun, the rest of us were quite exhausted. And after a while all these sites started to blend together. If you are having trouble with the heat and have more time in Bangkok, consider spacing these sights out more. They are all worth seeing, but if you get overheated, it isn’t as much fun. If you have to pick one, do the Grand Palace first and see if you have leftover time and energy.

I was completely overheated, but a soda at the bottom of the mountain helped a lot. We also had brought some rehydration tablets that are easy to plop into a water bottle for some instant relief. If you are traveling in a hot climate, I highly recommend carrying some in your purse or day pack. Your body can lose tons of salt!

We then used the Grab app to get a taxi back to the hotel, rested a bit, then cooled off in the rooftop pool. The morning and evenings are the best time to be out and about, so plan for a mid-afternoon siesta if you can.

Dinner and Wander Near Hotel

As the sun started to set, we decided it was cool enough to go back out and find some dinner. There was a market right next to our hotel, so we decided to wander through that first, then pick one of the restaurants adjacent to it. As we wandered, we noticed that a lot of restaurants had some whole fish that were coated in salt and were being grilled. They looked amazing, so we decided to try one of the restaurants that had some out front.

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Fabulous choice! We were debating whether to get one fish platter or two, decided on two plus some mussels and Tom Yum soup, but it was way too much food. Jeremy and I stuffed ourselves on seafood and managed to not leave too much waste. When the wait staff has limited English, it can be hard to figure out the appropriate amounts until after your food has arrived. Still, it was an awesome way to end our time in Bangkok.

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One of the kids wasn’t feeling well, so I took him back to the hotel room while the other wandered with Jeremy. Fortunately the first was feeling better after about an hour and wanted to walk through the mall, so I went out with him for a bit. We also did one last load of laundry in our surprise, in unit, washing machine. It is always nice to have a full suitcase of clean clothes!

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