The Bang Pa-In Palace (or Summer Palace) is located approximately 50 kilometres north of Bangkok city within the Bang Pa- In district near Ayutthaya on a natural island formed on the Chao Phraya River. This Stunning complex of royal buildings was built as the summer palace for the King of Thailand after its construction in 1632.
Situated along the banks of the Chao Phraya River this kings palace was initially constructed by King Prasat Thong and appears to incorporate European styling and architecture from countries including France and England.
After 1767 when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya the palace was left abandoned for a number of years before undergoing an extensive restoration during the 19th century, first by King Mongkut (i.e. Rama IV who was a well traveled cosmopolitan science enthusiast) and later (i.e. 1872-1879) by his son King Chulalongkorn who were both committed to enlarging the complex. Most of the buildings that exist today are said to date back to 1872.
However, in 1881 this palace featured within a real life tragedy as Queen Sunanda Kumariratana and her daughter Princess Karnabhorn Bejraratana were traveling to the Summer Palace upon their royal barge when it sank. Onlookers watched in amazement but did nothing to assist the royal family members as it was against the law for a common person to touch any member of Thai royalty. Subsquently, the Queen and her daughter both drowned.
The Bang Pa-In Palace with its vast gardens, manicured lawns, sculptured shrubberies are laid out in a European design along a large rectangular man made ornamental pond. The complex today has an eclectic blend of European, Chinese and Thai influence: Chinese pagodas contrast with Swiss chalets; tower shrines in the Khmer style rub shoulders with palace buildings reminiscent of Versailles and to top it all off, an observatory boasts terracotta decoration.
The complex includes an inner palace area which has a number of private royal buildings and an outer courtyard area which is open to the public. However, it is the stunning Varobhas Bimarn residence which has three stately rooms open to the public, which is the most notable building on display outside the inner palace area.
Not far from the Varobhas Bimarn residence is a traditional Thai designed pavilion which is set within the middle of a large pond. This structure demonstrates the intricate workmanship of past Thai artisans.
Of the inner palace there is a Chinese style residence which was actually built in China and was provided as a gift to King Chulalongkorn (i.e. Rama V) back in 1889. This residence includes a throne room and has an interior made of ebony and wood covered in red lacquer. This is the only building that the public is able to enter.
Indeed, the inner kings palace which boasts a number of royal and
stately buildings is still visited by the Thai Royal Family and is still used at times for State receptions and banquets.
Because Thai culture teaches respect for the King of Thailand (i.e. Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX), a strict dress code applies to all visitors entering the palace. Subsequently, men must wear long trousers and women must wear a modest length skirt. Shoes must also be removed when entering both all of the buildings.
The Bang Pa-In Palace is located at Ban Len, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thailand. The palace grounds are open daily between the hours of 8.30 AM and 4 PM and admission is 100 baht for foreigners.
The easiest way to travel to Ayutthaya from Bangkok is by train or bus. Trains depart daily from Bangkok's Hualamphong Station nearly every hour with the journey taking approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Buses depart from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (at Mo Chit on Kamphaengphet 2 Road) approximately every 20 minutes with the journey taking around 2 hours.