A night at Phya Thai Palace

A night at Phya Thai Palace

Travel back in time via multimedia presentations

TRAVEL
A night at Phya Thai Palace

Standing in the middle of a lush lawn, a monument of King Vajiravudh greets visitors to"101 Years Of Phya Thai Palace: The Glory Of Siam", which runs until March 16. It is a collaboration by Ama Studio, DecideKit, Na Satta, Fos Lighting Design and LightSource to bring the palace back to life as a night museum, creating immersive visual experiences through cutting-edge multimedia presentations.

Light and sound shows evoke a nostalgic atmosphere while mapping projections accentuate the palace's grandeur as the royal residence for two monarchs. It is currently encompassed by Phramongkutklao Hospital, but visitors may picture what this neighbourhood looked like over a century ago. It was once covered in rice fields and vegetable plantations on the banks of the Sam Sen Canal.

King Chulalongkorn bought 100 rai from local villagers to create his royal residence where he conducted agricultural experiments and animal husbandry on the royal farm. He stayed here for two years until his death in 1910.

When King Vajiravudh (King Rama VI) ascended to the throne, his mother Queen Sri Bajarindra moved from the Grand Palace and resided here for a decade. Upon her passing, the majority of previous buildings were dismantled and reassembled as a science building at the Royal Page School (present-day Vajiravudh College). Later, King Rama VI converted this royal compound to Phya Thai Palace and constructed additional facilities.

From 6pm, a museum tour will begin in Thewarat Sapharom Hall, which King Rama VI erected for the Queen Mother to serve as an audience hall. This is the only building that has survived from her period. The breathtaking architectural lighting underscores its remarkable Byzantine design, which features a central dome and a vaulted roof.

The ceiling boasts exquisite frescos of angels and flowers, while blue lighting commemorates the Queen Mother's birthday. This hall has previously been utilised for several religious rites and performances during the reign of King Rama VI.

Projection mapping on the wall of the Phiman Chakri Hall.

Just a few metres away, a five-minute projection mapping and motion graphic loop is displayed on the walls of Phiman Chakri Hall and Waikun Thepayasathan Hall recounting the palace's history and King Rama VI's endeavours to modernise Siam.

It is like opening a book and travelling back in time to when King Vajiravudh built his palace, introduced coordinated universal time in Thailand and developed the miniature town of Dusit Thani as a model of Western system of governance.

Visitors can also observe how the palace was transformed into the opulent Hotel Phaya Thai, which was run by the Royal State Railways and functioned as the first broadcasting station during the reign of King Prajadhipok (King Rama VII). As a result of regime change, the hotel was closed and repurposed as Phramongkutklao Hospital before becoming a museum.

Inside the Phiman Chakri Hall, the hallway has been converted into a starry tunnel with mirror walls, giving visitors the impression they are strolling through a sky of sparkling stars. This main building with its towering pointed dome is a fusion of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

The ceiling is graced with flower-like frescos and the carved door panels showcase Victorian artistry at its finest. On the 1st floor, the reception room has been turned into a library with stunning projection mapping. Visitors can imagine standing in front of a bookshelf, perusing a list of King Rama VI's literary collection including Madanabadha: The Romance Of A Rose, Romeo And Juliet, The Merchant Of Venice, Neptune's Bride and Remembrance Of Siam.

On the other side, a wall shows projection mapping that combines a collection of rare images to demonstrate the palace's layout. The palace features seven buildings and visitors can visit the king's bedroom, audience hall, study room and the Mekhala Ruchi Pavilion, as well as rooms in the old Hotel Phaya Thai.

The Thewarat Sapharom Hall features magnificent Byzantine-style architecture.

Walking further, the Roman Garden serves as a magical portal that transports visitors to the dreamland of Madanabadha: The Romance Of A Rose. This garden boasts a unique geometrical design and a Roman-style pavilion, which doubles as a stage for outdoor performances on special occasions.

The marble-like staircase is adorned with a pair of Roman-style sculptures, while bunches of red rose-shaped lighting installations are in full bloom as a reminiscence of the angel Madana, who is cursed to be a rose on Earth but can transform into a human if she falls in love with someone.

Visitors may take a moment to admire a large pond, which is home to a copper statue of the rain god cast in Florence by Prof Silpa Bhirasri. Every 30 minutes, a projection of red roses will also illuminate the back wall of the Phiman Chakri Hall to celebrate the month of love.

Visitors can tour the former site of the Dusit Thani miniature town, where King Rama VI and government officials performed as inhabitants to convey the concept of Western administration to Siam.

Set against the backdrop of a dark sky, the green courtyard is covered with hundreds of dazzling, handcrafted lotus-shaped lighting installations as a tribute to King Vajiravudh. Using smart glass screen techniques, a projection depicts the love story of Madana amid a carpet of white rose-like lighting installations.

A reception room is transformed into a reading corner with projection mapping.

Alongside, a luminous giant tree is embellished with hundreds of tiny LED lights to create a wave of fireflies fluttering around. After that, visitors can make their way to the Shrine of Tao Hiran Phanasun (also known as Who), where pilgrims and patients from nearby hospitals gathered to ask him for effective cures and good health.

Back in 1886, King Vajiravudh remained crown prince and travelled to the northern region. He made camp in the woodlands, and one of the attendants had a dream in which a forest spirit came as a guard, pledging to protect the prince and his entourage from danger. When the prince learned of this, he arranged incense, candles and food near his pavilion as an offering.

After coming to the throne, King Vajiravudh commissioned four sculptures of Hiran Phanasun. In 1922, he ordered a craftsman to construct a massive bronze statue of Tao Hiran Phanasun wearing a traditional headdress and holding a staff to serve as the palace's guardian spirit.

Visitors can continue to take in the nostalgic vibes at Café De Norasingha, which is situated in front of the Phiman Chakri. This neo-classical building once functioned as the royal carriage house and rest place for those waiting for an audience with King Rama VI.

The Phiman Chakri Hall showcases a glittering tunnel.

Later, it was turned into a coffee house but closed after the change of the government in 1932. During the festival, the café remains open until 8.30pm and serves both Western and Thai cuisine as well as a selection of beverages and desserts.

Not far away, the neighbouring grounds of the Mekhala Ruchi Pavilion have been taken over with a parade of food trucks, from which visitors can enjoy a variety of street food like freshly made hamburgers, noodles, rice with crispy fried-pork, and sugarcane juice flavoured with various Thai herbs to cool off on a hot summer night.

While having a late dinner, visitors can catch a glimpse of the Mekhala Ruchi Pavilion. It was the first structure that King Rama VI built in the compound and he spent time here to design the construction of his permanent residence. Sitting on the banks of Khlong Phya Thai, it boasts a pond where the king occasionally bathed and stunning paintings of pheasants in the entrance hall.

The Roman Garden.

Travel info

 

  • "101 Years Of Phya Thai Palace: The Glory Of Siam" continues until March 16 from 6-9.30pm. Tickets are priced at 100 baht and 200 baht for Thais, and 250 baht and 400 baht for foreigners. Online booking is available at Zip Event, KK Day and Agoda.
  • Phya Thai Palace offers two guided tours on Saturday and Sunday at 9.30am and 1.30pm. Find out further details at facebook.com/PhyathaiPalace.

The previous site of Dusit Thani is adorned with lights that mimic flowers and fireflies.

A statue of Tao Hiran Phanasun serves as the palace's guardian.

The Roman Garden houses a copper statue of the rain god created by Prof Silpa Bhirasri.

The previous site of Dusit Thani adorned with lights that mimic flowers and fireflies.

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