The Bangkok National Museum is supposed to be the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia and is a great place to learn all about Thailand’s culture, history, and the traditional significance of Buddhism.
Many of the significant remains of the former capitals Sukhothai and Ayutthaya are on display here, along with various other precious treasures collected through the centuries.
Attractions – what to see
Many ancient buildings make up the National Museum. The first building in front to the left is the Sivamokhapiam Hall which houses the ticketing office and the Gallery of Thai History.
This gallery starts with the prehistory of Thailand, and takes you through the early kingdoms such as Lanna and Sukhothai, through Ayutthaya and finally to the modern kingdom of Thailand. This gallery also contains an inscription which is supposed to be written by King Ramkhamhaeng himself, and is the oldest-known record of the Thai alphabet.
Opposite the Gallery of Thai History is the Buddhaisawan Chapel (also known as Phra Thinung Phutthaisawan). It houses images of the revered and much-loved Phra Singh Buddha which also can be found in Chiang Mai, Nakorn Si Thammarat and Chiang Rai. It is unknown which of these images is the genuine original.
At the right of the back door are impressive murals. The Throne Hall contains galleries devoted to musical instruments, wood carvings, puppets, khon masks, clothing, and a complete collection on armaments.
South of the palace building is the famous Tamnak Daeng – Red House. It is considered to be an outstanding example of traditional Thai architecture. It was built within the Grand Palace in the late 18th century for a sister of King Rama I.
The residence was later moved to Thonburi Placace, and then again to Wang Na Palace. North of the palace building is the Funeral Chariot Hall which displays funeral carriages used almost exclusively for royal cremations.
The exhibition contains carriages such as Phra Mahaphechae Ratcharot, Vejjayantra Ratcharot, the Small Carriage (Ratcharot Noi), and other paraphernalia of Royal Cremations.
Other highlights of the museum include recovered jewelry and gems, sculptures from the 15th century AD, old textiles, giant shadow puppets, weapons, ivory, royal possessions, gold, musical instruments, and Asian art and antiques through the centuries.
A free English language tour given by volunteers is available, starting at 9:30am on Wednesdays and Thursdays, lasting about 2 hours. They also conducted in German (Thursdays), French and Japanese (Wednesdays).
History of Bangkok National Museum
The National Museum of Bangkok was established in 1874 when King Rama V opened the first public museum in Thailand to exhibit the previous collection of Royal gifts and antiquities by King Rama IV at the Concordia Pavilion within the Grand Palace.
Before that it was regarded as King Rama IV’s private museum.
It was later transferred to three palace buildings in the Front Palace (Wang Na), a palace of the Prince Successor.
In 1962, King Rama VII then gave over all building in the Front Palace to become the Bangkok Museum and then developed to be the National Museum Bangkok when it has been organized under the Department of Fine Arts since 1933.
No photographs are allowed inside the Museum.
It is advised to ignore people calming the museum is closed for ‘Buddhist holiday’ or any other reasons, and asking if you would like to see another place instead. They are most probably part of the sophisticated gem and jewelry scam.
Opening Time: 9.00am – 4.00pm
Entrance Fee: 40 Baht per person
Phone Number: 02-224-1333
How to go to Bangkok National Museum
Take the BTS Skytrain (Silom Line) to Saphan Taksin station and descend via exit 1 to Tha Sathon pier where you can take the Chao Phraya River Express boat to Tha Phra Athit. Then walk to Phra Athit road which runs towards Phra Pin Klao Bridge. Turn left at the junction under the bridge to Rachini Road. You will then see the Institute of Dramatic Arts and the National Theater. Next to the theater is the National Museum Bangkok.