This canal-laced royal estate explains court life through museums in fretworked 'tropical European' style mansions, most famously Wang Vimanmek. Start at the continuous audio-visual display in the Slide Multivision Hall.
The Ancient Cloth Museum illustrates the diversity and meanings of Thai textile patterns, and shows scenes from Rama V's trips to Europe. King Bhumibol Photographic Museums I and II show pictures by Rama IX, while images of his youth appear in Suan Hong Royal Ceremonies Photography Museum. Another fretwork fantasia, Suan Si Reudu Hall, has been reconstructed and displays gifts to Rama IX. Other mansions contain carriages, clocks, various ritual paraphernalia and treasures from the prehistoric World Heritage Site of Baan Chiang in Isaan. The Chang Ton National Museum displays artefacts of the sacred white elephants housed in a former stable.
Completed in 1901, the world's largest golden teak building, Vimanmek ('abode of the angels in the clouds'), was home to Rama V for five years. The free, compulsory guided tour (every 15 minutes, 9.45am-3.15pm daily) includes his apartment, featuring a typewriter, crystal chamber pot and a wooden wheelchair. Downstairs, the Throne Hall connects via sublime panelled corridors with antique-filled rooms. In the lakeside sala, dance and martial arts are performed at 10.30am and 2pm (free).
Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall
This gem of wooden tracery displays the Support Museum of exquisite court crafts preserved by the Queen's Support Foundation at Bang Sai.
Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall
Though clad in marble, this was the first Thai building constructed (1908-16) on ferro-concrete pilings, a technique Rama V saw in Europe. Its awesome cruciform interior - heavily gilded, with mosaic scenes of Chakri reigns I-IV lining the dome - convened the first Thai parliament, and still hosts state occasions. Behind it lies the modern Parliament (Thanon Uthong Nai, open to the public only on Children's Day, January) in democratically horizontal concrete, with a Brutalist-yet-breezy Brasilia aesthetic.