From now *until 31 December, 2017, an exhibition will be on view at Sanum Luang showcasing the Royal Crematorium for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It offers visitors the chance to learn more about the Royal Cremation Ceremony, its background history, art and culture when they visit many beautiful landmarks in Bangkok’s historic quarter, or Ratanakosin Island, on the Chao Phraya River.
The Royal Cremation ceremony attracted a worldwide outpouring of sympathy from the far corners of the globe over five days from 25 to 29 October, 2017. The ceremony itself signified the great reverence all Thai people have for their beloved late King and now travellers can also gain a unique historical perspective of this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle as part of other timeless monuments in the area.
The Royal Crematorium
This is a must visit for any visitor interested in Thai culture, the Thai Royal Family and the incredible life of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Here they can marvel at the Royal Crematorium located on Sanum Luang ceremonial ground with daily viewing from 06.00-22.00 Hrs.
The Royal Crematorium is where the Royal Urn is placed on the pyre for cremation. According to tradition it is always a temporary structure constructed in the middle of the city for the cremation rites of a deceased king or queen, or high-ranking royal with the tradition dating back to the days of Ayutthaya Kingdom of the former Siam.
It is both an architectural achievement and work of fine art modelled after the imaginary Mount Sumeru, also referred to as Phra Merumas, the centre of the universe in Buddhist mythology. In ancient Thai Kingdoms, like in many monarchies, the concept of King as a divine being was firmly established and institutionalised by both Hindu and deism influences.
Visitors are allowed one hour to tour the site around the Royal Crematorium and admire the magnificent Thai art that has been handed down through generations. They will also learn construction technics that include the renovation of royal chariots and palanquins, as well as how architectural works and artistic creations are integrated from adjacent pavilions.
The Royal Merit-Making Pavilion, or Phra Thinang Song Tham, offers a detailed historical perspective of the late monarch’s many achievements as part of his tireless approach working to improve the daily life of his subjects during his record-setting 70-year reign. The hall also features an exhibition of murals of his royally initiated projects that touched all parts of the country.
All structures relating to the Royal Crematorium will be dismantled after the special exhibition ends (*on 31 December).
Dress Code and Social Etiquette
For security reasons visitors are asked to show their ID cards (Thais) or passports (foreigners) when pass through any of the following five checkpoints: at Tha Chang pier; near the Mother Earth statue; in front of the Territorial Defence Department; outside Thammasat University’s Tha Phra Chan campus, and behind the Defence Ministry. There are clearly marked individual for Thais and foreigners.
All visitors are also required to dress respectfully – basically smart casual with no bare skin. Men should wear long pants, dress shirts with sleeves; women should wear dresses below the knee, slacks and sleeved shirts. No beach attire, see-through clothes, tank tops, bare shoulders, sandals or flip-flops.
Views is capped at 5,500 people per hour with a maximum carrying capacity of 104,000 people per day. As it is a place of mourning, respectful behaviour is required always. Touching any of the exhibits is strictly forbidden as is taking selfies or live-broadcasting of any kind.
After Bangkok’s famous landmarks beckon. The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Temple of the Reclining Buddha are both within easy walking distance and the newly-restored Temple of Dawn is just a short boat trip away on the opposite site of the Chao Phraya River.
The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaeo, was one of first attractions introduced to the world when Thailand’s tourism promotion began in earnest during 1960. Located within the Grand Palace compound, the temple is the home of the Emerald Buddha, and highlights the architecture of various periods. Majestic historical embellishments of the enthralling epic of the Ramayana adorn the compound walls in what is said to be the world’s longest mural painting of its kind. Visitors can also visit the Royal Thai Decorations and Coins Pavilion before entering the compound. It is always open daily from 08:30 to 15:30 Hrs. Admission is 500 Baht for foreigners and free for Thai citizens – proper dress code is also enforced.
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho is the oldest and largest religious site in Bangkok located behind the Grand Palace and near the Tha Tien pier. It is regarded as a showcase of Thai craftsmanship and one of the jewels of Rattanakosin Island. It has developed a unique reputation for its Wat Pho School of Traditional Medicine and Massage where people come to study and enjoy a massage from trainees. Must see features of the temple include Phra Buddhasaiyat, or the Reclining Buddha statue at 15 metres high and just over 43 meters long and the temple’s principle image Phra Buddha Dheva Patimakorn. It is open 08:00 to 18:30 Hrs. Admission is 100 Baht for foreigners and free for Thai citizens.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
The temple recently completed the historic renovation of its main feature, the 66.8-metre-high pagoda which is decorated with seashells and bits of Chinese porcelain that glimmer in the sunshine. To get there take a ferry from Wat Pho at the Tha Tien pier to Wat Arun pier located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. A 10-day long celebration of the completion of Wat Arun’s renovations will take place at the end of this year from 27 December through to 5 January, 2018. Open daily from 08:30 to 17.30, admission is 30 Baht for foreigners and free for Thai citizens
*Note to the editor: On 29 November, the Thai Government has announced that the exhibition period has been extended to 31 December.