The latest museum to open in Bangkok, called the Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall, is probably also one of the best. Located on Ratchadamnoen Road, it is not your traditional kind of museum. It is very much interactive and hands-on and uses modern techniques to teach you about the history of Bangkok in an entertaining way. The name of the exhibition hall comes from the original name of the capital before it was changed to “Krungthep Mahanakorn”. Rattanakosin also refers to the reign of the Chakri Dynasty. It is situated in a renovated four storey building which has some fine views of Wat Ratchanadda’s Loha Prasat building, known as the Metal Castle, and also the Golden Mount beyond.
Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall opens later than most places at 11 a.m. However, this is because it stays open later until 8 p.m. The panoramic views you can see here are in the coffee shop on the fourth floor. I am sure they will be just as beautiful in the evening with all the lights. The full price for the exhibition is 200 baht for adults and 50 baht for children. However, there is a special promotion until 31st December 2010 of 100 baht for adults and 30 baht for children. This is definitely worth the money and encourages you to go again. I am sure you will be happy to hear that there is no double pricing and everyone pays the same admission fees. The majority of the exhibit is bilingual in Thai and English. However, a wireless audio guide is essential for the video presentations. There is a 1,500 baht deposit for this equipment.
The museum was designed by the people behind the Dragon Generation Museum that I visited in Suphanburi Province. It uses the same concept where you go on a guided tour through the exhibition hall. At present you are taken through seven rooms but there will be two more next year. Personally I prefer to wander around museums by myself, but the tour guide gives you plenty of time to study the exhibits and also interact with them. Our entry and exit from each room is timed to perfection as most rooms have a multimedia presentation. The names of the rooms are: Grandeur Rattanakosin, Prestige of the Kingdom, Remarkable Entertainment, Renowned Ceremonies, Graceful Architectures, Impressive Communities and Sight-seeing Highlights. Before I forget, the museum is wheel-chair friendly.
The Prestige of the Kingdom Room contains this impressive model of the Emerald Buddha Temple and the Grand Palace complex. There are exhibits that tell you about palace life and also Royal ceremonies. You can learn about the performing arts such as the masked Khon dance, lakhon plays and puppet shows. There is fruit carving, Thai silk and different Thai architectural styles. At one of the last rooms they take your picture and then you are shown a cartoon presentation of the sight-seeing highlights of the area. Amazingly the faces of our group were placed into this cartoon which made everyone laugh. The tour lasted just under two hours. The time went very quickly as the tour was both informative and entertaining. I definitely want to go again as there was so much to take in and one visit wasn’t enough. I might go in the evening next time.
You can reach the Exhibition hall by public buses such as numbers 2, 3, 9, 15, 31, 33, 39, 42, 47, 59, 60, 64, 68, 70, 79, 82, 86, 157, 201, 503 and 509. It is close to the Golden Mount and Loha Prasart, the Metal Castle, so you could visit these places at the same time. Click here for map location. I was at the museum as a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and they also took us to the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall to see the magnificent Arts of the Kingdom V exhibition. This nicely complimented our morning tour of Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall. If you have already been to the Grand Palace, then you should have a free ticket for the throne hall. If not it doesn’t matter as it is only 150 baht and 50 baht for the audio tour. I wish to thank the TAT for being such kind hosts again and for inviting me to take part in this product testing trip.