A Guide to Visiting The Royal Crematorium in November

The Royal Crematorium will be open from November 2nd to 30th in Bangkok. Thais and foreigners will have the chance to explore the Royal Crematorium and learn about the life of the late king of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. If you want to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event, November is your only chance. After this month, the crematorium will be completely removed.
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History

Royal Crematorium of King Chulalongkorn
The Royal Crematorium of King Chulalongkorn in 1911.
In Thailand, when members of the royal family pass away, they are given spectacular funerals lasting from a few months to over a year. For high-ranking members of the royal family, funerals, which blend Buddhism and Hinduism, are major public events with beautifully crafted funeral processions that lead to a final cremation ceremony at a temporarily built crematoria. The tradition of holding these royal funerals dates back to the 17th-century Ayutthaya period. Each crematorium is designed and erected by the best Thai craftsmen, who see to it that not a single scratch lies anywhere on the crematorium. Also, each Thai king who passes away gets their own unique crematorium. The Royal Crematorium for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was modeled after Mount Sumera, which is, according to Hinduism believed to be the center of the universe. With its nine pillars on the three tiers and an array of himmapan, the crematorium is believed to send the king back to heaven.

Location

The Royal Crematorium is built on the grounds of Sanam Luang, the open field park north of The Grand Palace. To get there, you can take the BTS to National Stadium and then take a taxi. You can take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Tha Maharaj Pier and then walk. You can take the Khlong Saen Seab Express Boat to Panfa Leelard Pier and then walk or take a taxi or tuk tuk. And you can take free buses from Hua Lamphong, Victory Monument, Ekamai Bus Terminal, and Mochit Bus Terminal.

Admission

The Royal Crematorium will be open everyday from November 2nd to 30th, 2017, from 7am to 10pm. Access to the Royal Crematorium is free. And anyone–Thai or foreigner–is allowed to go in. To enter the Royal Crematorium bring your passport, as their will be security checkpoints. Only five thousand people will be allowed in at any given time. And the maximum amount of time you can stay in the Royal Crematorium is one hour. (this sounds more like you can choose between staying there Visitors will be granted fifteen minutes in front of the Royal Crematorium and forty-five minutes in the three exhibitions: Royal Projects, Building the Royal Crematorium, and King Rama 9 Biography. An alarm will sound five minutes before the hour, letting visitors know their visiting time is almost up. Public performances will be held at the Royal Crematorium every day from 8am to 5pm. And Khon masked drama dances will be held every weekend from 7pm to 7:30pm.

Dress Code

If you’d like to visit the Royal Crematorium, you must dress politely. Men cannot wear sleeveless shirts, tight, torn or faded clothing, as well as jeans or open-toed footwear. Women should follow the same dress code, and skirts must be knee length.

Etiquette

While at the Royal Crematorium kindly follow these guidelines:
  • don’t stand close to or touch the crematorium or anything inside the exhibitions
  • don’t pluck or damage flowers or trees
  • don’t stream live videos anywhere on the internet
  • don’t take selfies
  • don’t use umbrellas at the crematorium
  • only take photos in permitted areas
  • be polite when taking pictures
Drones and selfie sticks weren’t allowed at the Royal Crematorium. It’s probably best to leave them home.

Tips

To make the most of your one hour at the Royal Crematorium, start your first fifteen minutes at the sides or back of the crematorium since the front will be packed with people. By the time your one hour is almost up, the front of the crematorium should be cleared out and accessible. You’ll recognize the left side of the crematorium by it’s rice field and the number 9 in Thai. The right side has statues of the late king’s dogs. And the back of the crematorium by the field of marigold flowers. Officers will be on hand to help control the coming and going of the hundreds of thousands of expected visitors every day. If you are not sure where to queue up, it’s best to ask them.

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