Inside the Royal Barges Museum
What looks like a large warehouse is a museum showcasing a collection of ostentatious barges used by Thailand’s royal family. Although they’re now rarely seen cruising the Chao Phraya River (except on special celebrations, like the king’s birthday), they’ve been on display since 1967, and get constant face-lifts, which you may witness during a visit to the museum.
Most are just decades old, but reproduce those built in the 18th century by King Rama I, who was inspired by the fabulous Ayutthayan examples of the past, which he had seen in paintings.
The highlight is the vessel in the center of the museum, the Supphanahongsa (“golden swan”), which was made from a single piece of teak and features the mythical Hongsa swan-like bird on the prow. Over 50m (165ft) long, and weighing 15 tons, it needs a crew of as many as 64 highly-trained men.
Each barge has a display indicating its name, the year it was built, and other details. On a wall are photographs and paintings of the barges being used in the royal ceremonies, and behind a glass case are mannequins wearing the crew’s uniforms.
One of the most ostentatious barges in the museum
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm
Tickets: Free admission but charge of 100 baht for the permission to take photos.
How to get to the Royal Barges Museum
Take the Chao Phraya Express boat to the Phra Pin Klao pier, turn down Somdet Phra Pin Klao and follow the signs.
Uniform displays in the Royal Barges Museum