Royal Museum Clarified

One of my favorite places to visit in Bangkok, Thailand is the Royal Barge Museum. An open-air shed housing eight of the Thai Royal Family’s ceremonial barges, here you can view these magnificent boats up close. Once used by Thailand’s kings to travel around the kingdom, now these royal barges are only used for important ceremonies. The eight in the museum are from a collection of 51 barges.

While the Royal Barge Museum is a fascinating place to visit, it can be hard to get to and with hidden costs once you do. Rather than try to find your path to the museum yourself, here’s how to find the museum and measures to expect when you do.

How To Get To The Royal Barge Museum-While some tour guides will give you directions that involve taking taxis or buses, walking around confusing Thai sub-divisions, and hoping against hope you find the museum before it closes, there’s a much easier way to get there.

Take the sky train to Saphan Thaksin station and then a river boat north on the Chao Praya River to Tha Chang pier. Here, you will find long-tailed boats that you can hire for a two to three hour boat trip around Bangkok’s canals and ask to have one of their stops as the Royal Barge Museum. In fact, so easy is this, the long-tailed boat driver will stop right at the riverfront entrance of the museum, from where it is about a 50-foot walk to go into the museum, and wait for you while you are inside.

More About Royal Museum

The British Museum opened its doors to the general public on 15 January 1759, in Montagu House, Bloomsbury. It is still located there, although Montagu House has seen much changes since then. Over the centuries, the British Museum opened several branch institutions, including the British Museum (Natural History) in 1887, now called the Natural History Museum. The British Library also became a separate entity in 1997. Today both the Natural History Museum and the British Library are major London tourist attractions in their respective right. The British Museum doesn’t charge an admission fee except for charges levied for temporary special exhibitions, as with all national museums and art galleries in Britain.

At the time of its creation, British Museum was a pioneer of sorts. Being a national institution, it belongs neither to the church or the king. The British Museum opens itself freely to the public with the purpose of collecting everything of value. Sir Hans Sloane’s collection tended to reflect his scientific interest. Thus the introduction of the Cotton and Harley manuscripts added a literary and antiquarian element to the collection. The British Museum became both a national museum and a national library with an extensive collection of books and manuscripts. Indeed, it functioned as the British Library for centuries before the library became a separate entity just a decade ago.

The first exhibition galleries and reading room for scholars opened on 15 January 1757. In 1772 the British Museum acquired its first antiquities of significance, a collection of Greek vases from Sir William Hamilton. The Thomason Library and David Garrick’s Library were added to its collection. Visitors to the British Museum in the eighteenth century wouldn’t recognize it if they came today. That’s because the British Museum hasn’t yet acquired the monumental ancient relics that visitors see today.

What To Expect When You Get There-The Royal Barge Museum is an open-air museum that houses eight of the collection of 51 royal barges. These barges are unbelievably beautiful. Hand-carved with intricate designs, they are covered in gold leaf and gold paint. Pair this with the more than 50 boatmen that row each one wearing vibrant, colorful traditional costumes and head dresses and you will never see a more beautiful sight.

At the early part of the museum, make sure you watch the short film that tells you all about the story of the Royal Barges. Then, on into the museum, which is actually quite small.

Here, you will see eight golden barges, the most important being the Suphannahongsa, (golden swan) which is the King of Thailand’s personal barge. It was built just a hundred years ago, and represents the most ornate barge in the whole collection. The other barges include one with a monkey god, another with Garuda at the chief and several other escort barges.

Walk around, examine the barges carefully (of course, you are not permitted to touch them) and read the historical comments displayed around the museum.

Taking Photos at the Royal Barge Museum-The one negative thing about the museum is, if you wanna take photographs, you are required to pay a fee per camera. The fee is 100 baht ($3) for still cameras and 200 baht ($6) for video cameras. As you have already paid a small entrance fee, it’s a little bit of an irritant to are required to pay for photographs so I recommend having only one in your group take the photos and share with them later.

With Royal Barge Ceremonies, with the full fleet, only happening every few years, your chances of seeing one in the flesh are quite slim if you do not live in Thailand. That’s why, if you have the chance, visiting the Royal Barge Museum is a must do. They really are that beautiful.

 

Cain