Bangkok’s magnificent Grand Palace isn’t the only must-see in the city if you are interested in Thai monarchy. Vimanmek Mansion and the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall are worthy stops in your itinerary and can be seen on the same day. Located within walking distance to each other in the Dusit Palace complex, the two buildings show different sides of the reigning royal dynasty.
The Vimanmek Mansion, the world’s largest golden teakwood structure, was built in 1900 by King Rama V (King Chulalungkorn, if you are familiar with The King & I) as a temporary residence. Now a museum, the 72-room former royal palace gives visitors a sneak peek into the daily life of the royal family during Rama V’s reign, a chance to learn about customs, and the opportunity to view gifts and personal effects. Free guided tours are available.
The imposing Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is Italian on the outside, Thai on the inside. Formerly the Parliament House, it was built in 1905. The current exhibition is entitled Arts of the Kingdom, featuring the masterpieces of the Sirikit Institute, Queen Sirikit’s foundation for fine traditional crafts such as nielloware, damascene inlay, beetle wing decoration, enamel, embroidery, wood carving, Yan Lipao basketry, and gold and silverware. Prepare to be impressed by stunning artistry fit for a king.
In between the two buildings is the Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall, which houses SUPPORT Foundation’s museum of Thai handicrafts.
GETTING THERE As public transport is not a convenient option, it is best to arrive by tuktuk or taxi, unless you join a group tour that includes transfers. Alternatively, Dusit Palace is accessible via the Thewet stop on the Chao Phraya Express Boat service, followed by a 20-minute walk.
TICKETING Admission to non-Thais is THB100 for Vimanmek Mansion and THB150 for Ananta Samakhon Throne Hall (including audio guide in English). Admission to both is included in the THB500 Grand Palace combined ticket within seven days of purchase.
OPENING TIMES Vimanmek Mansion is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00AM to 3:15PM. It is closed on January 1 (New’s Year Day), April 13-15 (Songkran), October 23rd (King Chulalongkorn’s Memorial Day), December 10 (Constitution Day) and December 31 (New’s Year Eve). Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00AM to 5:00PM. It is closed on January 1 (New’s Year Day), April 13-15 (Songkran), and December 10 (Constitution Day).
DRESS CODE As the Dusit complex is a royal residence, modest clothing is required for entry. Tops for both men and women must have sleeves. Men must wear trousers, while women must wear dresses or skirts below the knee. Sarongs are available for a fee. Note that footwear must be removed in the Vimanmek Mansion.
PHOTOGRAPHY Taking photos is not allowed inside the royal buildings. Photography is permitted only on the grounds.
LOCKERS Bags, cameras and mobile phones are not allowed in both buildings. Lockers are available.
TIPS Large tour groups visit these buildings. Make sure not to queue behind them, as they may be waiting for their companions before entering.