Bang Pa-in, the Thai Summer Palace, hosts beautifully manicured grounds with a mix of Thai and European architecture- a great day trip from Bangkok, especially when coupled with touring the ruins of Ayutthaya.
On our trip to Bangkok at the end of 2015, we spent a fantastic day exploring the ruins of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. But our day didn’t end there. On the return trip to Bangkok, we stopped at Bang Pa-In, the Thai Summer Palace. This palace was built during the heyday of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, but lay abandoned for almost a century before King Rama IV began restoring the grounds. Rama V continued and expanded upon his work, adding European style buildings and gardens. You can walk the grounds or rent a golf cart to explore the area.
The palace grounds consist of both an Outer Palace section and an Inner Palace section. The outer palace features a large pond and buildings intended for public use. The majority of this section is done in European style, with the exception of the traditional Thai pavilion towards the rear of the pond (top photo). This pavilion’s construction was ordered by King Rama V and it is a replica of a pavilion his father commissioned at the Grand Palace.
Near the end of the Outer Palace, you’ll find the royal residence. This building houses two rooms, the audience chamber and the throne room, and features classic French furnishings. This building is still used by the current royal family when they visit the property. You can not take photos inside, and you also must be dressed conservatively to enter. After visiting this building, you pass over a bridge and through the gateway to the Inner Palace portion of the grounds.
Once inside the Inner Palace section of Bang Pa-In, we were greeted by more European-style statues, manicured lawns, topiaries, and the dulcet tones of… Foghat? I still laugh a little when I think about it, but they were blasting “Slow Ride” when we entered this section of the grounds, followed by songs by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, Eddie Money and more. I have no idea what was going on there, but we enjoyed the music and got a kick out of the oddness of it all.
The Sage’s Lookout sits on a small lake near another Royal Residence and served as a way to view the grounds.
The Royal Residence in the Inner Palace section of Bang Pa-In is done in Chinese style and was gifted to the royal family. This building features many intricate carvings of animals and flowers on its exterior. Inside there is a throne, furnishings, and some beautiful mosaic screens. To the right, you can see the changing of the guard.
Bang Pa-In is open daily until 4:30, but last entry is at 3:30. Entry is 100 baht and 400 baht to rent a golf cart. Across the parking lot from Bang Pa-In is Wat Niwet Thammaprawat, a Buddhist monastery with surprises of its own (post coming soon). I recommend visiting both while you are in Bangkok or Ayutthaya.