Near many Sathorn hotels is Vimanmek Mansion, a cultural landmark and proud symbol of Thai royalty. The summer residence of King Rama V in Chonburi province, Vimanmek Mansion was rebuilt in Bangkok’s Dusit Garden in 1901 where it served as the royal residence for several years. Largely unoccupied during the 20th century, Vimanmek Mansion was renovation in 1982 by Queen Sirikit for Bangkok’s Bicentennial Anniversary and is today, a magnificent museum dedicated to King Rama V’s legacy and Thailand’s royal heritage.
The influence of King Rama V’s maiden visit to Europe (the first visit by a Thai monarch) is evident in the three storey Vimanmek Mansion’s Victorian design. The world’s largest golden teak-wood mansion, the L-shaped building is renowned for being devoid of nails in its construction. 30 minutes from Anantara Bangkok Sathorn and open five days a week, visitors can walk along the brick floors of Vimanmek Mansion before venturing to the upper floors lain with smooth golden teak-wood. An hour-long tour takes visitors through the Palace’s 31 galleries that proudly display an array of artwork, silverware, ceramic, glassware and ivory items alongside European antique furniture, porcelains and a portrait Queen Victoria collected by the King on his European tour.
Boasting 81 rooms in total, in the octagonal-shaped, four-storey King’s private living quarters, his bedroom, bathroom (housing Thailand’s first installed shower), living room and study chamber appear frozen in time. Also visit the Banquet room, Chinese room and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall (showcasing local handcrafts) and pause to admire the portraits Thailand’s Chakri dynasty, King’s piano and the first Thai-script typewriters. Outside, enjoy watching a traditional Thai classical and folk dance performed twice daily in an open-sided sala.
Vimanmek Mansion lies nestled in a picturesque park with beautiful gardens, canals and walkways that lead visitors to several buildings built by the King for his Queens, consorts and family that today, house more royal treasures. One such museum, Suan Hong Residential Hall houses a collection of 23 royal horse-drawn carriages used by King Rama V while the former elephant stable exhibits memorabilia of the royal elephants.
Nigel Walters is a travel writer, who writes under the pen name, Fritzjames Stephen. His content is based on the myriad of experiences and indulgences that the world has to offer travellers across all walks of life.