Rattanakosin Island is a city on a piece of land surrounded with water, making it looking like an island. Its west boder is the Chao Phraya River, and in the east it is bounded by the Bang Lamphu and Ong-ang Canals.
The island constituted the whole of the capital city when it was founded in 1782. As such, it was not only surrounded by the Chao Phraya and the canals which served as its moats, but also by a wall, sections of which including forts are still kept in good condition as historic sites.
Rattanakosin Island is divided into two parts, viz. the inner and the outer Rattanakosin Island.
The inner Rattanakosin Island refers to the area having the Chao Phraya River to the west and the Lot Canal to the east. It covers an area of 1.8 sq.km.
The outer Rattanakosin Island is the area where its north borders on the Banglamphu Canal and its east, the Ong Ang Canal. It connects the Chao Phraya River at the south. It has an area of 2.3 sq.km.
For taxi : เกาะรัตนโกสินทร์ บริเวณท้องสนามหลวง
Inner Rattanakosin Area
The Grand Palace is famous for its elegant buildings of beautiful architectural styles. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Weat Phra Kaeo, the most beautiful and important Buddhist temple in Thailand, houses the Emerald Buddha image (Phra Kaeo Morakot) which is Thailand's most highly revered Buddha image.
Mahadhatu (Mahathat) Temple
This temple is one of the most important religious places in the Rattanakosin Island. It was first built in the Ayutthaya period (1350-1967) and became more and more important in the Rattanakosin Period. In King Rama I's reign (1782-1809), the temple was the residence of the patriarch.
In the Fifth reign (1868-1910), it was the place where the Royal cremations took place. The well-known Buddhist University (namely Maha Chulalongkorn Ratchawitthayalai) is also located in the temple precinct.
For taxi : วัดมหาธาตุ
Photo : www.watmahathat.com
At its early period, this area was the southern part of the Crown Prince Palace. In King Rama V's reign (1868-1910), after the Crown Prince appointment was abolished, the land was given to a military department and was transferred to "Thammasat Lae Kanmuang (Moral and Political Science) University" which was established in 1934.
This university is the second modern university in Thailand. At the beginning, the university offered only courses in laws and political economy. Later, the university was developed to offer wider fields of study and the name was shortened to be "Thammasat University". Now the University has a large, new campus at Rangsit just outside Bangkok.
For taxi : มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์
Map : Thammasat University
The university developed from a school of Fine Arts under the control of the Fine Arts Department. The school was under the supervision of Italian artist Corrado Ferroci or Prof. Silp Bhirasri. Later, it was upgraded to university in 1943. The university has three art galleries which are open to the public.
Its former name is Phra Men Ground. This large open space has existed since the establishment of the Rattanakosin. At its early stage, Sanam Luang had a smaller size than today until it was extended and reshaped in the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910).
Tamarind trees around Sanam Luang were also planted in the same period which means they have been standing for about 100 years. Sanam Luang has been used for various public activities and is also used for some Royal rites and ceremonies, including Royal funerals and public meetings. Besides, it was the place where a weekend market (now relocated to Chatuchak Park) had been taking place for many years.
For taxi : สนามหลวง
Map : Sanam Luang
The temple was established in the Ayutthaya Period (during 1688-1703). It has many interesting and beautiful monuments such as the reclining Buddha image which is the second largest in Thailand, 46 metres long and 15 metres high.
The first open university was operated here with stone inscriptions containing knowledge of Thai massage and medical science. These inscriptions were recently designated "Memory of the World" by UNESCO.
For taxi : วัดพระเชตุพน (วัดโพธิ์)
Its ordination hall is an example of the east-meet-west architectural style. The exterior is of the Thai while the interior is of the Western. The mother-of-pearl inlaid door leaves are very delicate. This temple was built in King Rama IV's reign (1851-1868). There are many interesting monuments in this temple, such as the main hall, marble stupa, bell tower and library building.
For taxi : วัดราชบพิตร
Map : Wat Ratchabophit
Photo : commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bangkok_wat_ratchabopit_003.jpg
Tha Chang Wang Lang Area
Tha Chang Wang Luang (litterally means elephant pier of the Grand Palace) was built in the First reign (1782-1809). In former times, elephants from the Grand Palace were brought to this area to take a bath. This area was also called "Tha Phra" because Phra Sri Sakayamuni, the Buddha image in the vihara of Suthat temple, was transferred from Sukhothai by the river and landed at this point. Today, Tha Chang Wang Luang has a ferry boat pier with a number of retail shops and a market.
For taxi : ท่าช้างวังหลัง
Map : Tha Chang - Wang Lang
Outer Rattanakosin Area (North Part)
Bowon Niwet Wihan Temple
This temple is one of the most important temples in Thailand because it is the temple where king Rama VI, VII and IX spent their time in their monkhood. Many significant buildings and art objects are located within the temple compound.
Democracy Monument was erected in 1939 in memory of the revolution in 1932 of the country's system of government from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy.
Phra Sumen Fort
Phra Sumen Fort is a hexagonal-shaped concrete structure, topped with pointed roof. At the beginning of Rattanakosin (the year 1782) there were 14 forts along the city boder (defined by the Chao Phraya River and the city moats). Today only Phra Sumen and Mahakan forts remain. Phra Sumen fort partly deteriorated during King Rama V-VII (1868-1934). The Fine Arts Department restored it in 1959 and recently in 1981.
Vimanmek Mansion is well known as the world's largest golden teakwood mansion which was made a museum devoted exclusively to the memory of King Chulalongkorn (ruling 1868-1910) who built it in 1900. The mansion was built entirely of golden teakwood except the basement which is concrete.
It has three storeys except the octagonal compartment where the King lived, which has four storeys. What is amazing is that all the pieces of wood forming the building were motised together without the use of single nail except the flooring.
After the king passed away, the mansion was left uninhabited except for a few months in 1925, when it was occupied by a consort of King Rama VI. Then in 1982, Queen Sirikit had the mansion thoroughly renovated and restored to its former glory and opened it as a museum to commemorate King Rama V and to serve as a showcase for the Thai national heritage for future generations.
Among many rooms there, the palace museum features the bedrooms, the throne room and the bathroom which are kept in the original way to provide an atmosphere of the olden days while others are used to display works of art. Also on show are antique furniture, elegant dinner sets, 16th century Chinese porcelain, ceramics, crystalware, silverware and many invaluable memorabilia. Vimanmek Mansion is open daily 09.30-15.15. It is closed on public holidays.
For taxi : พระที่นั่งวิมานเมฆ
Map : Vimanmek Mansion
Wat Benchamabophit is one of the most modern works of Thai religious architecture where the relics of King Rama V are enshrined.Graceful and tranquil, it is famous for its main chapel built in white Carara Italian marble to house a replica of Thailand's most beautiful Buddha image, Phra Phutthachinnarat.
King Rama V Equestrian Statue
Established in 1908 in the reign of King Rama V (Chulalongkorn) with a fund raised by the Thai people, the statue was cast in Paris by a French craftsman. The remaining fund was spent by King Rama VI on the establishment of Chulalongkorn University, which was named after King Rama V.
Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall
Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is outstanding with its Renaissance and Neo Classic style of architecture. It was constructed with marble from Carrara, Italy.
The Throne Hall consists of two storeys approximately 49.50m x 112.50m. and 49.50 metres in height, with a large dome in the centre surrounded by six smaller domes. The establishment of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall was carried out during the later years of H.M. King Rama V (Chulalongkorn)’s life. After eight years of construction, it was completed in 1915. The total budget was 15 million baht.
For taxi : พระที่นั่งอนันตสมาคม
Bang Lamphu is a bustling shopping area where almost all kinds of goods and foods are on sale. Its neighbouring area, Khao San Road is a premier centre for backpackers and tourists on low budgets from all over the world. You can also enjoy nightlife here.
For taxi : บางลำพู
Map : Bang Lamphu
Outer Rattanakosin Area (Middle Part)
Brahmin Shrine or Devasathan Bot Phram
Brahmin Shrine was constructed on Dinso Road near the Giant Swing by order of King Rama I in 1784 at the same time as the Giant Swing (two years after the founding of Bangkok as capital). The monastery has been used to perform Brahmanic rituals and functioned as the centre of Brahmanism in Thailand since then.
The images of supreme Hindu gods Vishnu, Ganesh and Narayana are housed in 3 separated shrines. People regularly pay visits to worship the three deities or pray for a blessing from the four-faced Brahma statue at the entrance.
For taxi : เทวสถานโบสถ์พราหมณ์
Photo : th.wikipedia.org/wiki/เทวสถานโบสถ์พราหมณ์
Wat Suthat Thepwararam is a good place to see the blend of Thai art and Chinese art, the style which flourished in the reign of King Rama III (1824 - 1851). The main features include a 14th century large cast bronze presiding Buddha, the beautiful murals in the main building, and splendid carving door leaves which are replicas of the masterpiece of King Rama II.
Formerly used in an annual Brahman rite in honour of the Hindu God Shiva. However, the old red swing aged 45 years was already removed. The replacement of the brand-new one, comprising the four well-selected logs of the golden teak, was just completed in December 2006.
For taxi : เสาชิงช้า
Map : The Giant Swing
This temple is an old monastery which was first built before the rise of Rattanakosin. King Rama I (1782-1809) restored the temple. The Golden Mount, one of the unique landmarks of Bangkok, is located within the area of this temple.The construction of the Golden Mount started in King Rama III's reign (1826-1851) and completed in King Rama V's reign (1868-1910).
Mahakan Fort and Part of City Wall
This fort has the same age as Phra Sumen Fort which was originally built in King Rama I’s reign (1782-1809). The fort and a part of the city wall was restored in 1959 and 1981.
Loha Prasat (Metal Castle) of Wat Ratchanatda
This temple was built in the reign of King Rama III (1824-1851) to celebrate the King's niece who became the first queen consort of King Rama IV. The outstanding monument of this temple is "Loha Prasat". Loha Prasat is a kind of pagoda substitution which was built to represent the teaching of Lord Buddha.
Thepthida means a female angel. Wat Thepthidaram was constructed during 1836-1839 by King Rama III to celebrate Princess Vilas who was a daughter of the King. The influence of China is reflected through the designs and decorations of porcelain and Chinese stone statues.
Department stores are located in the Pin Klao area (on the western side of the Chao Phraya River). Khao San Road (especially at night) and Bang Lamphu (adjacent to Khao San) are no less interesting because there are lots of products ranging from fashion clothes to unique souvenirs on sale. A large number of restaurants and food shops are situated in Khao San area.
Local food stalls and food shops are scattered throughout the Rattanakosin Island but some vendors might not be able to speak English. Fastfoods like Burger King and McDonald are available in Khao San area.
Khao San area is famous for its nighlife establishments.
- Pin Klao
- Thon Buri