Half an hour south of Ayutthaya, (58 kilometres north of Bangkok by rail, 61 kilometres by road), Bang Pa-In is the site of a riverside summer palace formerly popular with late Ayutthaya-period monarchs and early kings of the present Chakri dynasty.
Originally, the riverine island was used by the Ayutthayan monarch, Prasat Thong (reign: 1630-1655) as a summer residence, and by every Ayutthayan monarch thereafter. When Bangkok became the new Thai capital in 1782, Bang Pa-In remained deserted for 80 years. King Rama IV (reign: 1851-1868) stayed there and had a residence constructed in the old palace compound. His son, King Chulalongkorn (reign: 1868-1910) liked the place, and stayed there every year, largely constructing the royal palace, a collection of Thai, European and Chinese-style buildings, as it is seen today.
The palace is open every day from 8.30 AM until 3.30 PM. Admission is 50 baht.
Attractions of Bang Pa-In are as follows:
This lovely classic Thai-style pavilion in the centre of an ornamental lake is one of Thailand’s best-known landmarks. Originally built of wood during the reign of King Rama V, the structure was reinforced with concrete pillars and floor by his son, King Vajiravudh (reign: 1910-1926).
Warophat Phiman Hall
Formerly a wooden, two-storey building used as a throne hall, and royal residence, the present European-style throne hall was constructed by King Rama V. The hall contains several historical paintings, and some of popular Thai literature, including the epic Ramakian, and Inao.
Utthayan Phumisathian Hall
The current wooden structure is a faithful reproduction of the original, which burned down in 1938.
Wehat Chamrun Hall
This magnificent Chinese-style building was a gift to King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) from the king’s subjects of Chinese ancestry. King Rama V used customarily to reside in the dwelling during Cool Season visits.
The tower-like structure, essentially a three-storey-building with a spiral staircase, was used by King Rama V as a vantage point during his periodic visits.
Queen Sunantha Monument
This memorial to the consort of Rama V who died tragically during a boating accident at Bang Pa-In contains the queen’s ashes and relics.
Wat Niwet Thammaprawat
This riverine island Buddhist temple was constructed, at the command of King Rama V during 1878, in the style of an English Gothic church. The structure’s stained glass windows and unusual architecture make it one of the most distinctive Buddhist temples anywhere in Thailand.