Bangkok National Museum and Buddha Statues

Bangkok National Museum of Siam.

The Bangkok National Museum opening hours are from 9 AM to 4 PM Wednesday to Sunday its a narrow door into Thailand HistoryTo understand Thailand & Siam History at least a bit it needs to visit this art and picture gallery which is a former royal palace featuring collections of exhibits of Thai art and history plus plenty of other interesting items, this is the largest Thailand Museum.

Bangkok National Museum (1)At the entrance are lockers where you can leave something. Very comprehensive visual and written information is available in different exhibition halls on many subjects including weapons used during the wars with Burma (Myanmar). The museum includes a interesting Buddhist art gallery.

When anyone ask what about the Bangkok national museum dress code? The answer is simple just use the usual light wear you use in Thailand since it is hot. Further below is a photo to give you an idea what people wear when visiting the Bangkok (Thailand) National Museum a genuine exhibition of Siam. Probably the best museum in Bangkok.

This is one of several museums in Bangkok and somehow a national gallery but not in the folk direction although they have some folklore stuff but rather secondary. The museum is mainly about history including Thai Buddhism and the relation with Burma (Myanmar) the wars with Burma and plenty of interesting installations in form of 3 D models with war elephants warriors and interesting documents to get an idea what happen in the past including the Kings of Thailand. 

If you like to digg a bit deeper into Thai history including related subjects with many sources books etc. try the Siam Society thats a clean and no nonsense environment based on books with no hawkers around yes and it wont cost even money for everything since you are a foreigner (probably). Thai people consider foreigners usually as a moving ATM machine, people here are civilized and not intrusive there are plenty of interesting books available including a copy service.

Bangkok National Museum.

  • Bangkok national museum entrance fee is 200 Baht (about $ 7, x) there is no real dress code just cover your body how that looks like is shown on this page. How to get to the national museum? Best is by BTS elevated train (see map below) exit at Saphan Taksin BTS Station and take the river boat dont listen to the people there who want to sell you something or try to get you into their car after arriving at the jetty make a short walk its beside the Sanam Luang field. 
Another interesting museum is the Siam museum.

Buddha Statues & Sculptures.

    Terracotta Buddha Head
  • Don't try the bus because the right bus never come beside of this there are plenty of Chinese tourists you have to navigate through and countless shops where they try you to pull you in they even try to lend you clothing for visiting the palace at Sanam Luang for a fee naturally. 
The Bangkok National Museum is in a smaller palace which has nothing to do with the "grand palace" totally encircled by the usual hawkers on the pavement. 
Royal barge (1)Beside of the countless statues of Buddha there is also an exhibition of royal barges in an integrated hall of this rather small palace don't ask anyone where the museum is since everyone will answer they don't know and try to sell you something there are even some taxi / tuk-tuk fools around who try to tell you the the museum is closed today and they know another place. Just ignore them its the usual cheating attempt. no Thai person will every give anything to anyone without a second thought to sell you something. Sometimes even a rotten Buddha Statue which the call very old actually its artificially made old.

Usually the royal barges are kept in a dedicated hall in the Bangkok National Museum shown here. 

Its always amazing in which good conditions this boats are since they are very rarely used and maintenance is not a very popular task in Thailand. But anyway they appear interesting and are very similar to the boats used by the Burmese kings on the Irrawaddy River.

Royal barge

  • The museum is set into the usual chaotic hawker mess outside.I really wish that a responsible Thai person would ever visit the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh Cambodia to get an idea how to do that.
  • The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and last ticket is sold at 3:30 pm closed on national holidays at the entrance is a storage for your bags. 
  • More about how to travel there is written below.
For comparison here is the Myanmar / Burmese equivalent:

royal barge Burmese style

Bangkok National Museum.

Thai Burmese War

visiting Bangkok national museum with mobile phoneUnique artifacts are placed in the buildings of this old palace and it is also a valuable historical source to study. Many students/pupils walk through every day. The overwhelming objects on display are Buddha related. Of course there are some other museums in Bangkok but this one is the most comprehensive also the 
Buddha Statues are really worth seeing. 

Ayutthaya day tour and elephantsWhat makes it especially interesting are the models of events and peoples of Thai history as you can see at the picture above and below which display the battle and siege of Ayutthaya including war elephants.
War with Burma over Ayutthaya painting

Here are visual representations of the battle in  Ayutthaya with the Burmese. 

In order to stop the disappearance of the ancient art objects (including Buddha statues wall paintings and all imaginable other objects  in Ayutthaya they concentrated as far as possible in the Bangkok National Museum.
museum painting from Ayutthaya
Most Thai people are extremely money-grubbing (some times ago they sold even small kids to Malaysian Chinese ) who paid about $ 5000,- each, they probably sold them later into mainland China. 

It needs to note that Thai (Thailand) and Shan Myanmar) people are the same Chinese tribe from Yunnan who migrated about 2000 years ago to today north Thailand. 

All this is visualized content showing a lot of excellent craftsmanship and skill but actually a visitor should go on a day trip to Ayutthaya and visit the site which is of course much more authentic.
Ayutthaya Buddha Statues
Note that the pavement is totally covered and blocked by hawker and other stalls so you really need to get out of taxi and have a little walk from the road side it's just invisible although the entrance to the palace where the museum is located is a big one.

The Bangkok National Museum has the dedicated Ayutthaya Wing where most Buddha statues are on display this was made in an attempt to stop poaching of artifacts in the old capital. At that time Ayutthaya was an important hub on the silk road connecting Europe with China and Japan and vv.

The most diverse museum in Bangkok.

The Bangkok National Museum which is full of historical relevant collections was opened in 1874 by King Rama V.  Currently (2018) the place exhibits history relevant artifacts back to Neolithic times. The problem is to find the place even Thai people around there don't know the place and it is well hidden behind the usual "Hawker Junk" and other sales booth littering the street and boardwalk which just makes it invisible. 

Ayutthaya History

Since this is a problem with everything everywhere in Thailand it is amazing why the government never is able to handle it. A interesting alternative is to visit the shopping arcades in the big hotels since there are lots of good copies of everything the museums of Bangkok have. 

The shops will tell this are all originals but this people are so awful liars almost every second sentence they tell is a lie. But a good copy is not so bad since most people wont be able to recognize the difference anyway. 

Similar interesting but also in a totally smaller dimension is the Jim Thompson house in Bangkok city. Jim Thompson has brought business with Thai silk to new heights

Bangkok national museum Buddha section

Bangkok National Museum pictures.

The entrance of the Bangkok National Museum is perfectly hidden and almost impossible to find when asking anyone around Sanam Luang (it's there) everyone tells (as usual) they don’t know. Even when I showed them the paper I asked the hotel reception to write down in

Buddhist statue in the Ayutthaya Wing
Thai language because I know this "don't know game".

Also taking a taxi and tuk-tuk is useless since they tell they know the place but as usual they are lying see how to travel there at the bottom of this page.

Plan at least one day to visit the museum because there are countless artifacts and objects distributed over the halls and exhibition spaces. Some particularly interesting representations are the historic relevant installations and 3D models as the responsible people have invested a lot of time and effort to get a true-to-life impression of Thai history.

A beautiful Buddhist statue from the Ayutthaya Wing collection is shown at the right picture.
The Ayutthaya Wing.

The Ayutthaya Wing.

The Ayutkhmerthaya Wing mainly exhibits statues and artifacts which are there permanent.

This history showcase opened in 1874 under King Rama V to exhibit relics from the past, artifacts and very pretty made models from events, in particular from the war with Burma. The galleries contain exhibits of a time-frame back to Neolithic times to artifacts dated from Dvaravati, Sukhothai and Ayutthaya period. Interesting Buddhist Arts is on display from the country and the surrounding including India and Myanmar plus China and Cambodia, and Indonesia.

golden artifacts from an Ayutthaya tomb

Here are several exhibitions on Siam culture they exhibited artifacts date back to Neolithic times, Siam Culture is shown and explained until recent times. Many other interesting things are on display such as about the Burmese wars with Ayutthaya and plenty items collected over the centuries or donated. The Ayutthaya Wing is the destination for Buddha Statues lover.

Buddha statue in the Bangkok National Museum

The war with the Burmese which led to the loss of Ayutthaya started in 1765. The Burmese army moved through Chiang Mai from the north and through Tavoy (Dawai) from the south, plundering along the way to scattered around Ayutthaya and settled up its headquarter at Pho Sam Ton. The Thai army, although supported by troops of other cities, could not overcome the enemy. The Burmese survived through flood time of 1766. Food and supplies were getting rare inside the city.

Within this showcase of the past it also needs to visit the old capital Ayutthaya which is just about 120 km north of the capital a ride from Hua Lamphong Train Station of about 2 hours and a peep into the backyards of the city.

Here are Chinese Thai museum ideas.

Thai Chinese Museum Ideas
Thai gold Buddha

They made some renovation work recently it looks like that now. Here are many gold stone and bronze sculptures this is Thai Buddhist Art and Indian Gandhara Buddha Statues Chinese Tang objects Vietnamese-Chan Indonesian-Java Art and Khmer Sculptures..

Here lots of facts and objects can be studied, it tells a lot about the country. They took plenty of time to visualize certain historical events by panoramic models, that's a treasure trove for anyone interested in history. The pagodas treasures consist of Buddha Images, votive tablets, ritual objects and other offerings. Animal plaques depicting elephants horses and turtles and ornaments such as bangles necklaces, and bracelets. It is widely believed that these gold items were placed into the stupa by a King of Ayutthaya which he had ordered to erect to gain merit for himself and his ancestors all in all a great showcase of Thai history.

gold Buddha statues
Part of the Bangkok National Museum

Gold Buddha images and Statues.

They are of the early "Bangkok period" made especially during the reign of King Rama III. They portrait the Buddha in the position of subduing Mara.

Some of the gold ornaments found at Wat Mahadhatu and Ratchaburana Ayutthaya were presented by the people to the government in 1939 to support reclaiming land in Indochina from the French. Other pieces were donated to the National Museum on the Thai Heritage Day in 1985. The gold treasures are of great value and represent a high aesthetic quality.

Cultural Impressions.

The Culture prevalence of present-day Thailand shows spirits and their world is one of the reasons for the genuine affinity between certain aspects of Thai and Myanmar or Burmese art. It seems probable that the Thai who settled in the northern region of Siam today did not at first know anything of Buddhism, despite the contact of other branches with forms of Buddhism in Nan Chao Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and the Khmer empire, they all have impressive Buddha head sculptures.

Buddha Head Sculpture.

Buddha head sculptureBuddha head sculpture (1)

It probably reached them via the Ari priesthood of Upper Burma. The early history of the northern region is mainly one of the fluctuations of power and influence between Sukhothai and the Lanna Kingdom in the north with the second largest city Chiang Mai. King Tiloka, by maintaining full contact between Siam and the Buddhist world of Ceylon, even India, ensured that this should be as direct an inheritor of the truth as it could possibly be. This concern with lineage is closely reflected in the art. The fact that valuable bronze was liberally use making huge images, and the fact that it has remained a Buddhist country eager to conserve its sacred images, means that there is today an unrivaled continuous series of Hinayana statues to see. In the south, Ayutthaya learned likewise from the art tradition of Sukhothai.
The styles which prevailed there in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries were based on an amalgam of the classical style with the fairly strong vestiges of Khmer traditions among a population still predominantly Mon. It is impossible at present, however, to disentangle the architectural and artistic history of the south at all satisfactorily, since the necessary archaeological investigations on the spot have not been done.

It seems probable that the majority of important structures and works surviving at Ayutthaya and all those around the new capital date from a period subsequent to the wars. Actually, the relationship between the two countries in the last few centuries was always bumpy.

The rulers behind the western border conducted aggression against the Siam kingdoms in the north and south during the later sixteenth century. They attempted to palliate his gross human cruelty by schematic acts of piety – feeding monks, distributing copies of the scriptures, and building pagodas (stupas) and monasteries.

Siamese Art in the central region.

This arts and crafts were subject to a strong Burmese influence, which virtually obliterated old native forms. In the north, especially in the Lanna Kingdom and Laos, which did not suffer so severely from this incursions, the older styles survived, developing slowly, into modern times. It must be said that, that the Hinayana art of both countries is interesting mainly in its early formative stages. Once the canonical patterns were laid down, artistic invention virtually ceased.

Standard types were repeated "again and again", and Buddhist architecture made no attempt to organize and articulate space. There was a positive religious reason for this state of affairs. There was long a belief erroneous but potent, that an authorized image of the Lord had been carved during his lifetime today only Buddha Statues are left probably the most beautiful are made from jade.

Following primitive conceptions which are, strictly speaking, abhorrent to well-educated people, this image was supposed to have absorbed much of its own magical potency. All the major images of shrines were supposed to continuing their own share of this magical potency of the original image by virtue of their exact likeness to the great original.

To ensure this likeness, immense care was taken to adhere as closely as human craftsmen could to the iconographic pattern, which was reduced for safety to a series of diagrams, measurements arid canonical proportions.

Such differences of style in old Buddhist art as do occur between different times and places are unintentional and unavoidable, the natural consequence of craftsmen working in their own artistic idiom. They were only cultivated intentionally when an attempt was being made to capture the likeness of a famous magical image in a style which had already evolved its idiosyncrasy.

Hinayana Buddhism influence.

In countries of the Mahayana with vital art traditions such as China Japan and even Tibet, the role of creative artistic was admitted to be important in the development of religious imagery.

In countries of the Hinayana, art was only to preserve and repeat, old patterns with a conservative and fundamentalist ideology, sticking so far as possible to the strict letter of ancient canons.

Neither in religious literature nor in art was there any incentive to explore the resources of words or for is. The truth had been expressed once and for all. To change them would be to lose the truth.

Buddha Statues in Thailand.

They were popularly meant to be repositories of power; even today the famous Emerald Buddha of Bangkok is one.

Exposition of Buddha Images.

Therefore it was of the greatest importance to make the images like each other, avoiding change. Once local rules were established, as close as possible to Indian originals, they were never intentionally altered.

Bronze Buddha Sukhothai Style

Sukhothai is one of the main historical important old towns in Thailand about 400 km north with a historical park and other things to see and sightseeing to do on holiday travel. This is one of the destinations which should be on the agenda on a visit to the country, read more.

It is located at Sanam Luang square, the map is here How to travel there? Either by taxi or via a river cruise which starts close to Saphan Thaksin BTS Station.

Just take the taxi or a ship to Sanam Luang where the Grand Palace and other interesting places are. The best is in the early afternoon when the buses with Chinese tourists and other already left.

Enjoy a cruise on the Chao Phraya River.

A cruise on the Chao Phraya River is probably the best way to Sanam Luang where the collections are. It also opens the view onto the busy life on the water where small and big vessels are moving around. The half hour trip cost Baht 40,- and is definitely worth it, read more.

Where is this Bangkok Museum and opening hours:

The Thailand National Museum in Bangkok is open daily from 9.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m except for Monday, Tuesday and National holidays. Tel. (+662)224-1404,224-1333


Phra Nakorn District, Bangkok 10200
Located between Thammasat University and The National Theatre opposite Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace.

How to travel to the Bangkok National Museum? 

With a Bangkok River Cruise on the Chao Phraya the best is use the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Thaksin and from there take a river cruise and exit at Grand Palace you could ask at the station where to exit since different ships have different stops. After no need to ask anywhere since no local around know where it is the best is get it marked in a map you can get at the hotel and walk along the western main road next to the river which passes the Grand Palace it's on that street but watch out because in front of the small palace (the National Museum is located in this palace) are as usual myriads of hawker and other movable shops and they occupy the area in front so dense that the entrance is not visible anymore and nobody cares but once you managed to get into this Thailand museum you will be positively surprised.

Tags: Bangkok national museum, Thailand museum, Buddha statues

 Sanam Luang Royal Palace in Bangkok city center