National Museum, also known as Bangkok National Museum, is a branch of National Museums of Thailand. In fact, it is not only the main branch but also the largest in South East Asia. The museum is dedicated to exhibits displaying Thai history and art forms. Located at the former Front Palace, or the palace of Vice King, on the northwest corner of Sanam Luang square, the museum was founded by King Rama V in 1874 to display the relics from the reign of King Rama IV.
To experience the museum at its best, it is recommended to join one of the two complimentary weekly guided English tours coordinated by the volunteers at the museum, on Wednesdays and Thursdays starting at 09:30 am.
The National Museum houses some highly impressive collections dating back to the Neolithic times in Thailand’s history. One of the major highlights include The King Ram Khamhaeng Inscription, which was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme Register in 2003 in recognition of its world significance.
The facade of the Sivamokhaphiman Hall, one of the three main exhibition halls, is a Thai history gallery bridging the Sukhothai through to the Rattanakosin era. The Archaeological and Art History assortment exhibits objects from Thailand’s dawn of time to Sukhothai and Ayutthaya epochs right through to the contemporary Thai Kingdom, comprising several primeval effigies.
Other intriguing assemblies in the attractive arts and ethnological collection are Chinese weaponries, gold possessions, valuable stones, Khon masks, porcelains, apparel and fabrics, woodwork and traditional musical apparatuses from around Southeast Asia.
Exhibitions at the Museum include a memorial chariot hall, featuring carriages used for majestic cremations and several excellent specimens of Thai architecture. These comprise the Buddhaisawan chapel (second main exhibition hall), a teak or ‘red’ house called Tam Nak Deang, and many gorgeous pavilions.
There are several ways to reach the museum from anywhere in Bangkok. If you are a budget traveller (like me) you can take take a Chao Phraya River Express boat from BTS Saphan Taksin station, to Ta Phrachan Pier where you can walk. The museum is next to Thammasat University. Alternatively, you can choose to travel by bus: No. 3, 6, 9, 15, 19, 30, 32, 33, 43, 53, 59, 64, 65, 70, 80, 84; Air-conditioned bus No. 3, 6, 7, 38, 39, 80, 82, 91 Airport Bus No. A2.
If you don't mind splurging extra on transportation, taxi is probably the best way to go. Flag down any of the colorful Bangkok cabs and ask them to take ou to the museum. Ensure that you tell them about paying by the meter.