4 Sanamchai Rd., 02-225-2777. www.museumsiam.com. Open Tue-Sun 10am-6pm. Admission: B100 for Thai residents and B300 for tourists.
This completely restored colonial-style building is now an innovative, technology-driven museum that takes you on a journey through the history of Siam via an array of multimedia presentations and interactive panels. Through Jun 29, the museum is running an exhibition titled “Beyond Silk”, showcasing the benefits of cocoons and various products made from cocoon fiber including silk.
Situated next door to Siriraj Hospital, the medical museum is where you can learn about Thailand’s medical history, human bodies and health through medical findings over decades. The Siriraj Pimuksathan building gives you an insight into what life used to be like for those communities living on and next to the canals and rivers of Bangkok with an exhibition featuring a life-size replica of an old warehouse called Nivas Sirinawet, set in a retro ambience by the Bangkok Noi cannel.
Upon his return from Europe in 1897. HM King Chulalongkorn (Rama V 1868-1910) used his personal money to purchase orchards and paddy fields between Padung Krungkasem Canal and Samsen Canal for the construction of a royal garden which he named “the Dusit Garden.”
The first permanent residence in Dusit Garden was Vimanmek Mansion, built in 1900 by royal command of HM King Rama V. The King had the Mundhat Ratanaroj Mansion Chudhadhuj Palace at Koh Sri Chang. Chonburi, dismantled and rebuilt in the Dusit Garden under the supervision of HRH Prince Narisra Nuwadtiwongse. The celebration for the completion of Vimanmek Mansion was held on March 27, 1901. HM King Rama V then moved from the Grand Palace to stay permanently at Vimanmek Mansion for five years until the completion of Ambara Villa in 1906 where he live until his demise in 1910. Vimanmek mansion was then closed down and members of the royal family returned to the Grand Palace. Near the end of HM King Rama VI (1910-1925)’s reign, he gave permission to Queen Consort Indrasakdi Sachi to stay at Vimanmek Mansion. After the King’s death, she moved to stay another residence in Suan Hong compound, north of Vimanmek Mansion, and the mansion was closed.
HM King Rama VII (1925-1934) renovated the mansion several times. In 1932, Vimanmek mansion was used only a storage place of the Bureau of the Royal Household.
In 1982, on the auspicious occasion of the Bicentennial Anniversary of Bangkok, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, who had discovered that Vimanmek Mansion; with its elaborate architectural style was still intact, asked permission of His Majesty the King (Rama IX) to renovate the mansion for use as a museum to commemorate HM King Rama V by displaying his photographs, personal art and handicrafts, and to serve as a showcase of the Thai national heritage for future generations.
Vimanmek mansion is the world’s largest golden teakwood mansion with its elaborate architectural style reflecting a western influence. The building has two right-angled wings, each wing is 60 meters length and 20 meters height, and is three-storey except for the part where HM King Rama V resided, which is octagonal and four-storey. Although the ground floor is brick and cement, the upper floors are built of beautiful golden teakwood. Altogether, there are 31 exhibition rooms, with the bedroom, the throne room bathroom and pink rooms maintaining the atmosphere of the Thai past. Some display the exhibitions of Thai art including silverware, ceramics, crystal ware and ivory.
Besides Vimanmek mansion and Ambara villa in the compound of Dusit Garden (or Dusit Palace as it was later renamed by HM King Rama VI), HM King Rama V allocated plots of land for the construction of residences for his consort princesses, and younger sisters. He also named gardens, canals, gates and roads after the ancient Chinese ceramics (commonly called “Khrueng Kim Tung”), which were very popular at the time. Now, dependent buildings are also open and shown art objects.
Admission: B100 for foreigners, B75 for Thais, B20 for monks and students
With 12 separate museums in Vimanmek Palace, you are sure to spend a whole day here. The compound houses the royal museums of photography, textiles and silk, clocks, and many other topics. The old black and white pictures of the royal family are particularly interesting but it is really the gorgeous teak buildings that are the real highlight. Strict dresscode (see their website for details).
It owes its name to a huge, three-headed elephant statue from Hindu mythology, Airavata (also known as Erawan) which you can also actually climb inside. The museum houses a collection of Thai antiques and artifacts such as Benjarong ceramics, Chakri dynasty tea sets, etc. Put in another B50 and gain access to the beautiful tropical garden.
Made up of four wooden houses built in 1937, the museum offers a fascinating insight into the lifestyle of an upper-class Bangkokian family. Featuring elegant furniture and ornaments from the early Rattanakosin era and the reign of King Rama V, the different buildings are a charming space to spend a few hours and enjoy the river breeze in the well-kept gardens.