Although I would like to tell you the most efficient and inexpensive way to get to Wat Pho, Grand Palace etc. I can't. Due to my time constraints as well as there being no BTS station close enough (the closest, on the same side of the river, being Sanam Chai) to walk from I chose to take a Grab taxi. As usual nothing goes exactly as planned (well for me anyways), my plan was to get a Grab taxi to and from Wat Pho, piece of cake, right? I managed to get a Grab taxi pretty easily and quickly from where I was staying (near On Nut BTS) at a cost of $271 Baht which is an acceptable fare if I had been dropped at the correct location.
The journey towards the Grand Palace was relatively quick traffic wise but that all changed when you get close, specifically around the the large oval field. The sight of things was both spectacular and scary. The streets became "managed" as in funneled and directed by gates, barriers and security check posts. Starting from the huge parking lot of tour buses and fences to herd, I mean, direct people in an orderly fashion towards the Grand Palace which is a good 15 minute, mostly uncovered, walk without any crowds.
Having gotten through the traffic choke points, my Grab driver indicated we had arrived so I paid and got out in front of the Ministry of Defense building. If you're interested in a vast display of cannons, you'll enjoy the view here. On the opposite side of the road was a wall and behind it I can see the roofs of wat styled buildings. I had a choice go left or right. Since I saw the majority of people going right plus the Grab driver should have dropped me at the closest entry point to my destination (Wat Pho), following the crowd was the correct choice. Well, it turned out it wasn’t (going left would have taken me to Wat Pho). After about a 15 minute walk back from the direction I came including wait time (I had to get into the line that I had passed while in the taxi) I got to the entrance gate. It was here that I realized (after seeing the guards in full military uniform) that I was about to enter the Grand Palace Complex. What else could I do? I was already there, so I went to the ticket counter and paid my entrance fee of $500 Baht and proceeded in. The details of which I'll put in a separate post.
Oh, unlike the soldiers in front of the Ministry of Defense building, the soldiers at and around the Grand Palace don't appreciate, like or permit their picture being taken. If you ask they will say, "NO" if you don't ask and get caught, they will just yell, "NO PHOTOS" at you. I decided not to press my luck so I stopped.
Here's some tidbits of info. Due to the size of the complexes, it could be a long walk between destinations. I didn't notice many taxis or tuk tuks around but there were a few here and there at the areas with shops around, like the ferry access points. Be wary of the tuk tuks as they will try to tell you of places they think you should go and will probably take you there even if you say, "no." There aren't many people walking around this area at night and it's not that well lit in most places. I'm not sure why, but Grab taxi in Bangkok is not as convenient or efficient as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai or even Singapore. It took me an hour to get into the 4th Grab Taxi I booked as the first three cancelled. Maybe it's just my luck or lack of it but it would be less stressful for you if have an exit plan.
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