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The Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok is a rare jewel in Thailand’s rich cultural heritage. This museum is home to a collection of meticulously preserved 8 barges that sail regally on the Chao Phraya River during the grand processions. In all its grandeur and splendour, the barges adorned with intricate carvings and mythical figureheads take you on a culturally and spiritually enriched voyage that promises to allure with fascinating visuals and tales. With the morning light accentuating the magnificence of the barges and imparting an ethereal glow, it is truly worth the experience to visit the museum early in the morning.

History Of The National Museum Of Royal Barges

The majestic and regal barges at the Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok.

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The origin of these grand processions can be traced back to the Ayutthaya kingdom during the 14th century. Hundreds or even thousands of barges would sail along the Chao Phraya River to the beating of the drums. With the river being the main source of transportation, it was considered a mark of wealth and power for the kingdom to possess and parade a huge fleet of barges in a regal procession. The procession in the current monarch’s reign, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has occurred only 16 times in the past 60 years. During your visit, it will be unlikely for you to come across another procession, but it is worth every penny to visit this museum and catch a glimpse of Thailand’s rich heritage.

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Things To See At Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok

During your visit to the museum, there are myriads of things to do at the Royal Barges National Museum. These are as follows:

1. Royal Barges National Museum Exhibit

Be mesmerised by the delicate intricate carvings on the barges at the Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok.

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Each of the eight barges possesses a unique identity and is distinctively different from the others. While the first four barges are bigger in size and require nearly 50 oarsmen to sail the boats, the remaining four barges are smaller and are usually navigated by 30 to 32 oarsmen.  If you are a history buff, this place is a must-visit for you. Whether you are travelling solo or with your family, make your time to visit this amazing place.

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2. Royal Barge Suphannahong

The majestic Suphannahong Barge at the Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok.

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The Suphannahong Royal Barge is a mesmerising work of Thai workmanship boasting an impressive length of 46 metres with the prow shaped like an elegant swan. Sculpted out of a single teakwood trunk, this exquisitely crafted barge is decorated with vibrant tones of gold and glass ornaments. This magnificent barge plays a pivotal role as the king’s personal barge and glides elegantly along the Chao Phraya River.

3. Royal Barge Narai Song Suban – Rama IX

Grand Narai Song Suban, in Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok

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Launched on April 5 in 1996, Royal Barge Narai Song Suban is the most recent addition to the fleet of royal barges.  To commemorate the king’s 50th anniversary of ascension to the throne, the Royal Barge Narai Song Suban was launched on April 5, 1996. Named after Lord Vishnu, the barge displays the god’s figurehead, who is seen mounted on a garuda holding the Naga, the legendary snake. Below this figurehead is a porthole for accommodating a cannon. Measuring nearly 45 metres in length, this impressive barge is decorated with golden lacquer and glass ornaments.

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4. Royal Barge Anechatbhuchong

Magnificent intricate carvings of the small nagas on the barge at the Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok

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Measuring 45.67 metres in length, the Royal Barge of Anechatbhuchong was first built during the reign of King Rama IV. The version that you see now in the museum was launched in 1914. What really makes this barge unique and regal are the delicate carvings gilded with the design of small nagas. It is truly a testimony to the superior Thai craftsmanship, clearly evident from the striking features, including the hull, which is adorned with pink on the outside and red on the inside.

5. Royal Barge Anantanagaraj

Stunning view of the 7-headed nagas on the Anantanagaraj barge at the Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok

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The significance and symbolism of Nagas, the serpent entity, is deeply rooted in Thailand’s cultural, spiritual and artistic narrative. The Anantanagaraj, measuring about 44.85 metres, is an intricate expression of this belief, with its prow depicting the seven-headed nagas. Highlighting the magnificence of this exquisitely designed barge are the gold lacquer and glass ornaments, creating a perfect sheen. Adding to the majestic look of the barge is the hull, which has an interesting contrast with the colour green used outside while the colour red is painted inside.

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6. Ekechai Hern How Barge

The regal view of the barges at the Royal Barges National Museum, Bangkok.

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Measuring 29.76 metres, this comparatively smaller barge is elegantly adorned with golden lacquer, lending the barge an extremely royal sheen. It features the figurehead of Hera. The colossal figurehead of Hera, also known as the Naga-headed dragons, is considered sacred in Buddhism and is an inherent part of Thai spirituality and culture. While you are visiting Bangkok, this place is a must-visit for anyone who love history.

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7. Krabi Prab Muang Marn Barge

Majestically adorned prow depicting Hindu deity Hanuman at the Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok

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The colours, motifs, and designs of the various barges truly stand out and highlight the remarkable finesse of Thai artistic brilliance. Resembling the Hindu deity Hanuman, the 28.85-metre-long barge distinctively features a monkey warrior with his body painted white, creating powerful imagery. You will completely amazed by the view of it. If you are someone who loves art and artistic subjects, this place is for you.

8. Asura Vayuphak Barge

Thailand’s rich cultural heritage showcased at the Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok.

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The imposing figurehead on this barge creates a regal spectacle featuring an ogre-faced bird with a face, hands, and feet coloured indigo, the front part of the body purple, and the back green. It is another scenic barge that you must see while visiting the Royal Barges National Museum. While you are here, visit all the barges for a wholesome experience.

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9. Krut Hern Het Barge

Captivating sight of Krut Hern Het Barge at the Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok.

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The magnificent Krut Hern Het Barge, nearly 29 metres long, exudes poise and splendour with its captivating prow, which features a garuda seizing a naga, the serpent. The hull’s exterior is characterised by its striking black contrast and overlay of elegant gold floral designs, while the interior is painted red. These barges are history buffs and artist’s heaven. If you are travelling with your kids, make sure to visit this place.

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How To Reach Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok

The best way to get to the Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok is via a boat ride.

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The Royal Barges Museum is right across the river from the Grand Palace. The most convenient way to reach the National Museum of Royal Barges is through a boat ride along the river of Chao Phraya. You can take the Chao Phraya Express Boat up to Wang Lang Pier, and from there, you can walk it down to the museum. You can even opt for a tourist boat tour of the Bangkok waterways, which will include a visit to the Royal Barges Museum as part of the itinerary. If you travel by car, you must cross the Phra Pink Lao Bridge and take a left to reach the Ammarin Bridge. Since the museum is close to the bridge, you would need to park nearby and follow the signs leading to the museum.

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An epitome of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage, the Royal Barges Museum in Bangkok is a must-visit place if you want to explore this vibrant country’s rich cultural treasures. From the fascinating boat ride that takes you to the museum to the enchanting display of superior Thai craftsmanship clearly evident from the richness of the barges, the experience is truly priceless. To delve deeper into the cultural richness of Thailand, we recommend you plan and book a trip to Bangkok and make the most of your holiday.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Royal Barges National Museum Bangkok

What are the museum's open hours?

The museum is open 9 am to 5 pm on all seven days.

Does the museum offer guided tours?

Guided tours are conducted every Wednesday and Thursday at 9:30 AM in English, German, French and Japanese.

Is there a dress code to visit the museum?

People visiting the museum are required to follow a proper dress code. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are not allowed and women must ensure the length of their skirts is below their knees.

Are there any nearby attractions to explore after visiting the Royal Barges Museum?

There are quite a few attractions you can visit after your tour of the Royal Barges Museum. Some of them include the temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew. You can also visit the Asiatique the Riverfront, which is an open-air entertainment and shopping complex.

What is the largest museum in Bangkok?

The Bangkok National Museum is one of the largest museums in Bangkok.

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