Housed in the grounds of an 18th Century Palace, The Bangkok national museum is the largest museum in South East Asia.
Established in 1874 the museum was traditionally home to a private collection of Thai artifacts bestowed to King Rama V by his father Rama IV. The museum is now home to Thailand’s largest collection of national artifacts.
For many years the museum certainly resembled an eclectic collection rather than a national gallery. The place lacked organisation and resembled more of a spare room collection of belongings. However more recently the individual items have been documented and curated and the Museum has a more traditional feel.
The Bangkok national museum is housed in three separate buildings. Siwamokhaphiman Hall, Buddhaisawan Chapel and the Red House.
The first place you encounter when entering the museum is Siwamokhaphima Hall or Thai History Gallery. Once inside you will be greeted with artifacts and collections spanning the years of Thai history. From Thailand’s prehistory, through the different dynasties of Lanna, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya all the way through to the modern kingdom.
On display are some of the Kingdoms most important cultural and archaeological items.
Built in 1795 as a private chapel for the residing prince, Buddhaisawan Chapel is home the 15th century shining Buddha image. Which is probably the second most important Buddha image in the whole Kingdom behind the Emerald Buddha.
The wall panels that adorn the inside of the chapel depict the life of Buddha himself and are the oldest murals in all of Thailand.
The Red House – Tamnak Daeng
This distinctly red stained teak house located at the south of the grounds was originally the private living quarters of the Princess Sri Sudarak.
The house is furnished in an early Thai style and is a great insight into how the HiSo Thai’s lived in the past. A great piece is the 18th century hand carved Chinese bed.
There are many items on exhibit at the museum including great examples of, Khon Masks, textiles, clothing, precious jewels, ceramics and ancient Chinese carvings.
Visiting Bangkok National museum
The museum is only open from Wednesday to Sunday, do not attempt to visit on Monday or Tuesday as you will be disappointed.
Entrance is open from 0900 til 1600 on open days and tickets are a very reasonable 200thb and can be purchased at the entrance. There are regular free guided tours of various languages throughout the day for those that wish to learn a little more. You can if timings do not suit hire a private guide to take you on a private tour, many of which offer the services right outside. Or better still book a tour in advance that includes hotel pick up.