Guide to Rattanakosin – Bangkok’s Historical Area

Rattanakosin (Thai: รัตนโกสินทร์)

Wat Phra Kaew Rattanakosin BangkokWithin walking or tuk-tuk distance from Banglamphu, you will find the old historical area called Rattanakosin. The area is situated along the Chao Phraya River a little north of Chinatown. Here you will find Bangkok’s most impressive temples and historical attractions. The most famous of these are The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. If you are hungry for more temples, don’t miss Wat Pho and Wat Mahathat either.

Although we encourage you to be open and welcoming towards strangers in Thailand, Rattanakosin is one of the areas in Bangkok where you should be cautious of strangers approaching you, as the amount of tourists here attracts various kinds of tricksters.

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Rattanakosin tourist map, Bangkok

Credit: Globe-trotter, based work from contributors section seperator

Attractions in Rattanakosin – Bangkok’s Historical Area

Every single Bangkok guidebook and tour agency in Bangkok will point you towards Rattanakosin, as this is where you will find the city’s biggest attractions. Needless to say, the area is packed with tourist busses and guided tour groups, but you will also find many Thais visiting, because the country’s holiest relics are found here. When you are in Rattanakosin, don’t foget to visit the following attractions:

  • Grand Palace (พระบรมมหาราชวัง):
    Once the residence of the Thai royal family, the Grand Palace is still used during special events and ceremonies. The palace grounds are partly open to visitors, who can enjoy the gracefully ornamented buildings and temples on the grounds, along with the museum.
  • Wat Phra Kaew (วัดพระแก้ว):
    Within the grounds of the Royal Palace, you will find Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Thailand’s most sacred temple.
  • Wat Pho (วัดโพธิ์):
    Just behind the Grand Palace, you can visit Wat Pho, home to the world’s larges reclining buddha. The temple is believed to have been built in the late 1600’s, and is considered one of Bangkok’s oldest.
  • Wat Arun (วัดอรุณ):
    This beautiful temple is located across the Chao Phraya River on the Thonburi side. The temple is also called “The Temple of Dawn”, since the first rays of morning sun reflect on the coloured mosaics of Wat Arun. In the evening, the temple is lit up giving a stunning backdrop to the river.
When you visit the temples in the Rattanakosin, please remember…
  • Wear modest clothing covering legs and shoulders. Sarongs can be borrowed against a deposit at the entrance in case you forget.
  • Remove your footwear before entering a temple
  • Act respectfully and keep your voice down when you are on the Grand Palace grounds and inside temples
  • For a less hectic visit to the temples, show up early before the big tour busses arrive
  • Tourist scammers are common in this area – do not believe anyone telling you that the Grand Palace is closed to visitors (8.30 am – 4.30 pm) or who tries to lure you into a “free” tuk-tuk tour!
Grand Palace dress code

Photo credits: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Recommended Hotels in the Rattanakosin Area

Rattanakosin does not have that many hotels, especially in the high end category. Both Chinatown and the Khaosan area of Banglamphu have hotels with short distance to Bangkok’s historical area. However, you are still not out of luck if you are looking for somewhere special to spend the night in Rattanakosin. Check out our recommended hotels here.

Just A Bed

Siri Poshtel Bangkok

Exterior view of Siri Poshtel in Rattanakosin Bangkok

Walking distance to Khaosan Road and the most important historical and religious attractions in Bangkok. Siri Poshtel has an international atmosphere and has the basics covered plus a little extra for budget conscious travelers.

Why Siri Poshtel

  • Super clean and new, high sleep quality, and “less is more” philosophy
  • Inspiring murals on the walls in rooms and common areas
  • Price: $$$

Rough Diamond

Uncle Loy’s Boutique House

Exterior view of Uncle Loy's Boutique House in Bangkok's Rattanakosin area

On “the other side” of the Chao Phraya River, this little gem gets you straight into local neighbourhood life tucked away from the tourist buzz, yet within a short boatride to where it’s happening. Few rooms plus sky-high popularity means that you should book in advance.

Why Uncle Loy’s Boutique House

  • An excellent choice if you want a homey and unique accommodation experience
  • Nice collection of books in the library
  • With the townhouse garden the experience here is very intimate
  • Simple feng shui rooms
  • Price: $$$

Feeling Special

Chakrabongse Villas

Hotel room of Chakrabongse Villas in Bangkok's historical quarter

As you are in the historical area of Bangkok, you might as well fulfil the experience with classic Thai luxury and attention to detail. The tranquility of this place makes this a Bangkok favourite.

Why Chakrabongse Villas

  • The beautiful garden and the view of the historical river adds to the magic
  • Chakrabongse has a stunning albeit small swimmingpool surrounded by lush flowers and trees
  • High quality wood panels and fittings from top to bottom gives a cozy cabin feel
  • Very private and romantic boutique hotel, definitely worth the extra dollars
  • Price: $$$

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