Royal Grand Palace and Bangkok Temple Tour: Ish Meets Thailand

It’s not my first time in Bangkok, Thailand. It’s not my first time to go on a tour of the Grand Palace and of the city’s most famous temples either. However, I’m determined to make this visit special.

Bangkok Temple Tour
Row of Golden Buddhas in Thailand

This time around, I’m flying to Thailand with a couple of childhood friends who have since moved to Canada. They’re in Asia for a visit and Bangkok is one of our chosen destinations. I consider myself to be a fairly seasoned traveller and I take pride in the ability to prepare my own tour itinerary every time I travel. However, navigating through public transportation, waiting in long queues and doing a lot of research can take its toll if you’re visiting several cities in an extremely warm climate. (By warm I really mean scorching hot like Satan just moved in.)

Hence, I decided to book a tour with CITY DISCOVERY. The internet offers endless choices when it comes to tour companies but after a bit of research, I liked the Itinerary provided by City Discovery’s “Half Day Royal Grand Palace and Bangkok Temples Private Tour.”

First of all, I chose a private tour because most group tours start at around 7:00 a.m. My friends and I are flying in that day and we won’t reach our hotel until around 10:00 a.m. Rather than wasting the rest of the day, I requested for a noon-time departure. Luckily, the private tour is flexible and we were able to freshen up and grab an early lunch before we set off.

Before anything else, I’m glad that the guidelines on the website made the dress code very clear. Since we are visiting temples, our shoulders had to be covered and we needed to wear bottoms that covered our knees and are loose-fitting. Knowing this saved us some time and trouble. I saw several tourists getting turned away because they were wearing tank tops and shorts. Mind you, I would have done the same if I had a choice. I can’ tell you enough about how hot it is!

Bangkok Teple Tour
Here we are, carefully abiding by the dress code: L_R Belle, our guide Thom, Me and Rowena.

Our guide, Thom, showed up about an hour early. He waited for us at the lobby of the Admiral Premier Hotel while we finished our lunch at the hotel restaurant. Once we were ready, he ushered us into our very own tour van. It was big enough to seat about 10 people but it was quite a treat to have it all to ourselves. The vehicle was new and the air conditioning worked well.

Our Private tour van
  1. Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha)

Our first stop was the Temple of the Golden Buddha. The 3 meter tall solid gold statue is housed in its own dedicated building which is also embellished in gold. The majestic statue weighs 5.5 tons!

Bangkok Temple tour
Monks descending the temple that houses the Golden Buddha
View of a smaller temple from the Temple of the Golden Buddha
Temple of the Golden Buddha

Our guide told us that the Golden Buddha was discovered only in 1955.  Prior to that, it had been covered in stucco and had not been considered to be very valuable. While it was being moved to a new building it fell. A crack in the outer layer of clay revealed a solid gold statue underneath.

BAngkok Temple Tour
The Golden Buddha
Bangkok Temple Tour
View From Behind

While the actual origin of the Golden Buddha is unclear, it is believed that monks covered it in stucco or clay to hide its true value during the Burmese invasion of the Ayutthaya Kingdom back in 1767. However, it was likely made sometime in the 13th-14th century during the Sukhothai Dynasty.

Young Monks posing for pictures

While there, we also ran across some young monks who were visiting the temple. I was quite surprised to see most of them taking photos from their smart phones!

Bangkok Temple Tour
Monks on their smart phones!

In the same complex, another temple houses a smaller Golden Buddha:

Bangkok Teple Tour
A Monk blesses a young girl inside the temple.

WARNING: You’re supposed to take off your shoes before entering the temple so wear easy to remove footwear. Also, it’s a good idea to wear socks. The concrete gets very, very hot under the son. I had to run for only about 10 meters from the shoe rack to the entrance of the temple but it hurt like hell!

2. Wat Pho, (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

The Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho

Our second stop is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. At 46 meters in length and 15 meters high, the Reclining Buddha is impressive. However, I would have liked it to be housed in a much bigger building. That way, one can marvel at its magnificence in full.

The Reclining Buddha viewed in between two pillars

As it is, the Buddha lies in a building that is barely large enough to cover it. That takes away from the grandeur in my opinion. Nevertheless, it was still a sight to behold.

Bangkok Temple Tour
Here we are, trying to take a selfie with the entire Buddha

The temple is also the home of the world-famous Thai massage. The complex houses some structures that show illustrations and anatomical guides that are meant to teach the secrets of the massage.

Bangkok Temple Tour
The Buddha’s feet have prints made of mother-of-pearl inlays

3. The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Keo (Emerald Buddha Temple)

Thailand is currently still in a state of mourning after the passing of their previous King in October 2016. The mourning period will last for a year and during this time, his body lies in state inside the Grand Palace. Hence, the throne hall is inaccessible to tourists.

the Grand Palace Complex

Nevertheless, the Grand Palace still offers many interesting sights to behold. The complex houses some of the most elaborately decorated structures that one can find. The inlaid glass and intricate details are breathtaking.

The Grand Palace Complex
Elaborate Architectural details

Several burial stupas are also scattered across the grounds. Previous Kings and other important personalities in Thai history are buried here. The Grand Palace complex is a complete sensory overload. There’s even a building that has been made to look like a small replica of the Versailles Palace in France. We are told that it is mean to house world leaders who come to visit the King.

Burial Stupas
Golden stupa inside the palace complex

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha can also be found in the Grand Palace complex. This Buddha was also found hidden underneath an unassuming clay stupa. While it is called the Emerald Buddha, it is actually made out of jade. Unfortunately, taking photos of it from inside the temple is forbidden.

“Versailles” style building inside the complex
The Grand Palace Complex

At this point, we were completely spent. After taking a very early flight into Thailand, we were ready to crash. I must say, having an air-conditioned van at our disposal was just perfect. Our guide was also very knowledgeable and he really kept up with our pace, allowing us to enjoy the sights at our leisure.

The Grand Palace Complex

Everything went without a hitch. We returned to our hotel and grabbed a hefty Thai dinner nearby. It was a day well-spent and a great start to our Thai adventure. If you wish to book the same tour, visit

More photos will be available in a photo tour post soon!