Located next to the mighty Chao Phraya River is the Bang Pa-In Palace, also known as the Summer Palace. It is a bit outside the historic city of Ayutthaya but well worth the trip. Sprawling gardens, European-style structures, and other noteworthy architectural buildings are some of the things visitors can anticipate seeing at this royal palace.
Covering 46 acres of emerald green property is the Bang Pa-In Palace. While it certainly does not put the Grand Palace to shame, it is an amazing structure made up of a number of buildings worth exploring. The palace’s history dates all the way back to the 17th century, and it is believed that it was constructed during the reign of King Prasat Thong. Records are not clear as to whether or not the palace was being used when the city fell in 1767 after the invasion of the Burmese, though some parts of the palace remained in 1807. The structure as seen here today was mostly built from 1872-1889 during the reign of King Chulalongkorn.
The palace grounds
Much like the Grand Palace, the Bang Pa-In Palace is split up into two zones. Visitors cannot see the inner zone, as it is reserved for the King and his immediate family, however, the outer zone is certainly noteworthy all the same. The principle buildings visitors must see before leaving the grounds are the Ho Hem Monthian Thewarat, Saphakhan Ratchaprayun, Phra Thinang Aisawan Thiphya-Art, and the Phra Thinang Warophat Phiman.
The most memorable of all of the structures that make up the stunning Bang Pa-In Palace is Phra Thinang Aisawan Thiphya-Art, which means the ‘divine seat of personal freedom.’ The vibrant Thai-style pavilion sits in the center of the outer pond, with its spectacular reflection gracing the water’s still surface. Built by King Chulalongkorn in 1876, the structure consists of four porches beneath a spired roof. It was built to resemble a pavilion that is found on the grounds of the Grand Palace. A bronze statue of the building’s creator is found at the pavilion’s core.
Just adjacent the spectacular pavilion is Warophat Phiman, a European-style mansion built by King Chulalongkorn. The one-story manor was completed in 1876 and is decorated with oil paintings, lush furnishings, and stunning architecture. This building hardly reflects Thai-style, except for maybe the chairs that sit around the large dining room table. There are a number of private apartments in the mansion which are still used today by the royal family when they come to stay at the palace. Visitors will be happy to hear that Warophat Phiman is air conditioned, unlike the other structures found here.
Wehart Chamrun, meaning ‘heavenly light,’ is another mansion found on the palace grounds. Unlike Warophat Phiman, this two-story mansion was built utilizing Chinese-style architecture. Its bright red color is complicated with intricate infrastructure. It was given as a gift to King Chulalongkorn in 1889 by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Visitors are welcome to explore the ground floor and surrounding area, which houses an elaborate Chinese-style throne. The actual mansion is blocked off, but visitors can peek in to see the large ebony furniture, tiled flooring, and decorative furnishings found inside.
This large observatory tower was built to give visitors the best view of the surrounding countryside, found on all sides of the Bang Pa-In Palace. Its architecture hardly resembles that which Thailand is known for and instead boasts of bright orange, yellow, and blue colors, giving the towering structure a certain European feel.
How to dress
The Bang Pa-In Palace has a fairly strict dress code. Shoulders and legs must be covered. There is a woman outside of the palace that sells elephant pants and skirts for ฿100 (US$3) that visitors can purchase in order to enter.
How to get there
The Bang Pa-In Palace is a bit outside of the city center. From the Ayutthaya Historical Park, the palace is about a 30-minute drive. Visitors can rent motorbikes to get there or hop in the back of a songthaew. The cost of a songthaew is normally around ฿300 (US$9) for an hour, though you could also barter with the driver to take you to a certain number of places for a set price.
Entrance Fee: ฿100 (US$3) for foreigners, ฿20 (US$.60) for Thais
Hours: Daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Phone Number: +66 035 261 548, +66 035 261 044