Visiting the Grand Palace & Wat Pho

Martin and I are not morning people. Not even while on holiday. So instead of waking up early and taking a taxi straight to the Grand Palace for opening time we had a long lie, wandered down through the streets of Bang Rak and then decided to swing by the iced tea stall from Monday’s food tour.

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Totally worth the detour.

I was keen to try out one of Bangkok’s many river boats so we jumped on at Saphan Taksin BTS station and headed north.

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Speeding along the Chao Phraya sitting on the deck beats being stuck in the back of a taxi any day!

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We departed at Maharaj stop and quickly stumbled across Wat Mahathat.

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Out of respect we avoided the main temple where locals were worshiping but instead explored the grounds and smaller surrounding buildings. The whole complex was so peaceful and completely empty of tourists.

There were a few furry feline’s roaming about though!

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We enjoyed the empty Buddha-lined corridors and watching the quiet rituals of Thai life.

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Inside the walls of Wat Mahathat was the perfect contrast to the manic Bangkok streets outside.

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After our morning of detours we eventually arrived at the Grand Palace, the King’s official residence (although he doesn’t actually live there anymore).

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Straight away it was obvious why everyone had told us to buy our tickets in advance and get there first thing in the morning – the place was packed. We arrived round about the same time as 50 coach-loads of Chinese tourists and all pushed towards the entry together.

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We passed through the first round of security but the closer we progressed towards the main entrance the busier it got. Hot, grumpy and not content to deal with the huge crowds we decided that it wasn’t worth continuing and gave up on visiting the Grand Palace.

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I’m sure it’s beautiful inside, but I felt like the experience would’ve been ruined while surrounded by so many people. I’ll make sure to get there early next time!

Slightly disappointed we set off towards Wat Pho, bracing ourselves for the crowds that were surely going to be there as well.

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But as luck would have it, as we arrived at the gates there were no queues! We were able to buy our tickets and head straight in to see the famous reclining Buddha.

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At over 46 meters long he’s a pretty spectacular sight! It’s apparently one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand, built in 1832.

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Though not as quiet as Wat Mahathat there was still plenty of space to wander the grounds and admire the temple’s beauty in peace. Most tourists stayed didn’t venture far from the Buddha or massage centre (Wat Pho is believed to be the home of traditional Thai massage) so many corners of the site felt unexplored.

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Feeling calm and relaxed we started the trek home to our hotel….

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…back along the river…

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…and then finally weaving through the busy streets.

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