Vimanmek Mansion was originally built in the late 1800s by King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) and was located on the small island of Ko Si Chang, just to the south of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand. When Rama V had the idea of creating the new royal Dusit area of Bangkok he decided that his island mansion would be an ideal addition as a royal palace. So, in 1901, the teak-wood structure was transported piece by piece and reconstructed on its present site in Bangkok. Reported to be the largest golden teak-wood mansion in the world, it is also said that not one single nail was used during the construction.
The L-shaped royal palace has more than 80 interior rooms with each room containing exhibits, artefacts, antiques or personal belongings of Rama V. He was the first Thai monarch to visit Europe and the palace is home to a number of items collected on his travels including European furniture and portraits of European royalty such as Queen Victoria. There are also portraits of other members of Thailand’s Chakri dynasty and numerous objects of interest relating to Rama V’s reign including the first typewriters that could produce Thai script.
Vimanmek Mansion is certainly an impressive building and the palace grounds make for a very pleasant place to visit. I wouldn’t necessarily class the mansion by itself as a must-see for first-time visitors to Bangkok and to get the most out of the trip you would need to have some interest in Thai history. However, if you have been to the Thai capital before and already seen the main tourist attractions, I would definitely recommend a visit to Vimanmek Mansion and the Dusit area in general which is home to some lovely buildings and gardens.
What to wear
Vimanmek Mansion is a royal palace so there are dress regulations in place. No shorts, skimpy tops or tight skirts. Men should wear long trousers and if wearing a short-sleeve shirt, ensure it has a collar. Women should cover their knees and shoulders and avoid any clothing that is too figure-hugging. Sarongs are available (for purchase but not for hire) if your attire is deemed to be inappropriate. You will also need to remove your shoes and store them in the designated area before entering the teak-wood building.
It is forbidden to take mobile phones, bags and cameras into the palace. These items must be left in secure lockers (20 Baht per locker). You are allowed to keep your wallet or small purse with you. Airport-style security is in place before you enter the main palace building. When walking around the mansion do not touch any of the exhibits.
Cost of entry
Tickets cost 100 Baht. This includes entrance to Vimanmek Mansion as well as the other buildings in the palace grounds such as the Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall which is now home to HM Queen Sirikit’s charity project (Support) which works to preserve and promote traditional Thai arts and crafts. Other buildings within the palace grounds currently house exhibits ranging from royal portraits to antique clocks to pottery. If you visit the Grand Palace in Bangkok, that ticket also includes free entry to Vimanmek Palace.
Opening times and guided tours
You are able to tour the palace grounds and museums at your leisure, but for the main Vimanmek Palace you will be placed into a group of people with each group allocated a guide to walk you around the interior of the teak-wood mansion. Tours in specific languages, including English, are available (check in the main building for times and frequency). Vimanmek Mansion is open daily from 09.30 to 16.00 with the last tour usually commencing at around 15.15.
Vimanmek Mansion is located in the Dusit area of Bangkok with the main entrance on Ratchawithi Road close to Dusit Zoo (U-Thong Road). There are no skytrain stations or metro stops nearby so if you aren’t visiting as part of a tour, the best option to get there is a taxi-meter (or local bus). If you don’t mind walking in the heat, it is approximately a 30-minute walk from Tha Thewes river boat pier (N15) on the Chao Phraya River or 45-minutes from the Phan Fah boat stop on the Klong Saen Saeb canal.