The Royal Palace and Bang Pa-In has a history dating back to the 17th century. According to a chronicle of Ayutthaya, King Prasat Thong (1629 – 1656) had a palace constructed on Bang Pa-In Island in the Chao Phraya River. A contemporary Dutch merchant, Jeremias van Vliet, reported that King Prasat Thong was an illegitimate son of King Ekathotsarot (1605 – 1610/11), who in his youth was shipwrecked on that Island and had a son by a woman who befriended him. The boy grew up to become a Chief Minister. After having usurped the throne, he became known as King Prasat Thong.
The King founded a monastery, Wat Chumphon Nikayaram, on the land belonging to his mother on Bang Pa-In Island, and then had a pond dug a palace built to the south of that monastery. The chronicle records the name of only one building, the Aisawan Thiphayaart Royal Residence, which was constructed in 1632, the year of the birth of his son, the future King Narai (1656 – 1688). It is not known whether or not the palace was in use till the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. However by 1807, when the Kingdom’s best-known poet, Sunthon Phu, sailed past Bang Pa-In, only a memory of the palace remained, for the site was neglected and overgrown.
The palace was revived by King Rama IV of the Chakri dynasty, better known in the West as King Mongkut (1851 – 1868), who had temporary residence constructed on the outer Island that because the site of the Neo-Gothic style monastery, Wat Niwet Thamprawat, which was built by his son and heir, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). The present-day royal palace dates from the reign of King Chulalongkorn (1868 – 1910), when most of the buildings standing today were constructed between1872 – 1889.
Ho Withun Thasana: (The Sages Lookout) The observatory was built by King Chulalongkorn in 1881 as a lookout tower for viewing the surrounding countryside.
Phra Thinang Wehart Chamrun: The Chinese-style two-storey mansion was built by the equivalent of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and presented to King Chulalongkorn in 1889. Prince Ookhtomsky recorded that.
“It is really a palace of romance, with ornamented tiled floors, massive ebony furniture, gold, silver, and porcelain freely used for decorative purposes, and delicate fretwork on the columns and on the windows. Evidently we have before us the principal sight of Bang Pa-In. The Emperor of China himself can scarely have a palace much finer than this!”
The ground floor contains a Chinese-style throne; the upper storey houses as alter enshrining the name plates of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn with their respective queens.
This Chinese-style mansion was the favourite residence of King Vajiravudh, Rama VI (1910 – 1925) when he visited Bang Pa-In Palace.
Phra Thinang Uthayan Phumisathian: (Garden of the Secured Land) Phra Thinang Uthayan Phumisathian was the favourite residence of King Chulalongkorn when he stayed at Bang Pa-In Palace, sometimes as often as three times a year. Built in 1877 of wood in the style of a two-storey Swiss chalet, the mansion was painted in two toned of green. In the words of Prince Ookhtomsky, a Russian officer who accompanied the Czarevitch, the future Czar Nicholas II of Russia, on a visit in 1890, it was “furnished luxuriously and with refined taste and comfort.” Unfortunately, while undergoing a minor repairs it was accidentally burnt down in 1938. The new building which replaced it was constructed in 1996 at the expressed wishes of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. The water tank, disguised as a crenelated Neo-Gothic tower, is only part of the original structure still in existence.
Memorial to Princess Saovabhark Nariratana and Three Royal Children: In the year 1887 Princess Saovabhark Nariratana, a consort of King Chulalongkorn, and three of his children died, so the king had a marble cenotaph bearing their portraits built for them near the earlier Memorial to Queen Sunandakumariratana.
Memorial to Queen Sunandakumariratana:
In 1881 Queen Sunandakumariratana drowned when her boat sank in the Chao Phraya River while she was on her way to Bang Pa-In Palace. King Chulalongkorn, overcome with grief, set up a marble obelisk as a cenotaph to her memory. The King composed the dedication himself in Thai and English.
OPENING HOURS: Open everyday from 8.30 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.
ADMISSION: Foreigners – 100 baht. Thai people – 30 baht and 20 baht for students.
INFORMATION: Call (035) 261044
How to Get to Bang Pa-in
From Bangkok, take Phahon Yothin Road until Pratu Nam Phra In. Cross the outer ring bridge and turn left around Km.35 for approximately 7 kilometres to Bang Pa-In palace, or pass to Ayutthaya and turn left at Chedi Wat Sam Pluem Circle via Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Wat Phananchoeng, Amphoe Bang Pa-in to Bang Pa-in Railway Station, turn right to Bang Pa-In Palace
1. Take Highway No.1 (Phahonyothin Road.) then take Highway No.32 to Ayutthaya.
2. Take Highway No.304 (Chaeng-Watthana Road.) or take Highway No.302 (Ngamwongwan Road.) ; turn righ to Highway No.306 (Tiwanon Road.), then take Highway No.3111 (Pathum Thani-Samkhok-Sena) and turn right at Amphoe Sena to Highway No.3263
3. Take Highway No.306 (Bangkok – Nonthaburi – Pathum Thani Road.) then take Highway No.347
From Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal, on Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, there are buses to Bang Pa-in daily every 30 minutes. For more details, please call Tel. 0 2936 2852-66 or click www.transport.co.th and Ayutthaya Bus Terminal, Tel. 0 3533 5304
There are trains running from Hua Lamphong (Bangkok Railway Station) to Bang Pa-in Railway Station daily every hour starting from 06.40-22.00 hrs. Then, connect a Song Thaeo, motor tricycle or motorcycle taxi to Bang Pa-In Palace. Bangkok Railway Station , Tel. 1690, 0 2220 4334 or click www.railway.co.th
Cruise to Ayutthaya There is no public boat going to Ayutthaya. However, there are several companies that organise excursions from Bangkok to Ayutthaya and Bang Pa – In. The luxurious cruise from Bangkok to the former capital of Ayutthaya is operated by Chao Phraya Princess Cruise Tel: 0 2860 3700, Horizon Cruise Tel: 0 2236 7777, River Sun Cruise Tel: 0 2266 9316, 0 2266 9125-6, Manohra Tel: 0 2476 0021-2 and Grand Pearl Tel: 0 2861 0255-60.