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Suan Ban Kaew Palace Museum

Free

Address:41, Sukhumvit Rd., Tha Chang, Muang Chanthaburi, Chanthaburi 22000 Thailand

Service day:Everyday, Service hours: 08:30-16:00

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Official description

Chanthaburi, a province in the Eastern Region of Thailand, is famous for beautiful beaches and delicious fruits, especially durian and rambutan. Its well-known attractions include the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, the riverside community and Phlio Waterfall in Muang district. However, very few people know Suan Ban Kaew Palace, a former residence of Queen Rambhai Barni of King Rama VII.

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Alcoholic beverage, Strong smell food, Children, Pets, Slippers, Short pants, Cameras

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Royal legacy

A former queen's palace and farm in Chanthaburireflects her wider influence on local agriculture

Chanthaburi, a province in the Eastern Region of Thailand, is famous for beautiful beaches and delicious fruits, especially durian and rambutan. Its well-known attractions include the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, the riverside community and Phlio Waterfall in Muang district. However, very few people know Suan Ban Kaew Palace, a former residence of Queen Rambhai Barni of King Rama VII.

Suan Ban Kaew Palace is now a museum in memory of the late queen and her life in Chanthaburi. In 1949, HM Queen Rambhai Barni brought back to Thailand the ashes of King Rama VII, who abdicated from the throne in 1934, moved to England and passed away there in 1941. After her temporary stay at Sra Prathum Palace in Bangkok, her love for a simple life, nature and gardening prompted her to buy a land plot covering about 96 hectares in Muang Chanthaburi to build her new home. She named it Suan Ban Kaew.

When she moved in on June 20, 1950, she initially stayed in a bamboo house with a thatched roof without electricity and tap water. The first three houses -- the Gray House, the Red House and the Green House -- were later built for her, her secretary and her followers.

Two years later, Phra Tamnak Yai, or Phra Tamnak Thao Mansion, a grey European-style half-wood, half-brick building, was built on a hill for her to stay and receive guests. It was designed by architect MC Samaichalerm Kritakara.

Nowadays, when you visit and step into Phra Tamnak Yai, you will enter a hallway with an exhibition on the late queen's life through documents, old photos and her belongings. In the living room, there is a green sofa and a wooden table which are original furniture as well as new chairs and cupboards.

Then you will enter the dining room with a large wooden dining table with 10 chairs. On the walls, there are big photos of the queen. Several glass cabinets show dishes, utensils and other things used by her.

The kitchen.

Walking up the stairs, you will reach her bedroom. You will see a white European-style wooden bed, a green sofa, a table, a book cabinet, her dressing table and chair with several photo frames containing old pictures of King Rama VII and Queen Rambhai Barni. Her Thai-style attire is also shown there. Her white and blue bathroom is spacious.

The Western-style kitchen where the queen cooked has a charcoal stove, bread oven, chicken oven and a cupboard. You can also see her old car in the garage as well as gardening equipment.

Also, there is King Rama VII's Music Exhibition Room which features Thai classical music instruments and his compositions, especially Ratree Pradab Dao which he wrote for his consort. The nearby Tamnak Daeng, the residence of Queen Rambhai Barni's secretary MR Samaksamarn Kritakara, is now a folk museum.

The queen's flower garden is located east of Phra Tamnak Yai. It boasts fish and turtle ponds which were built as steps for water to flow. The queen grew various kinds of trees, including lotus, dona and cosmos. This garden is still in good condition. Nearby is a fruit orchard which was originally surrounded by red brick walls.

Queen Rambhai Barni spent 18 years at Suan Ban Kaew and contributed a great deal to local people. She ran an experimental farm to pass on successful new farming methods to villagers. She first planted peanuts and cotton and later found them not suitable for the climate. Then she grew coconut trees as well as cassava roots which helped prevent weeds and soil erosion. She also ran a vegetable farm and fruit orchard with about 3,000 tangerine trees and many rambutan, lychee, mangosteen and langsium trees. She raised hens and used egg hatching machines. She also raised ducks, geese and about 100 oxen naturally which helped eliminate weeds.

She grew enough produce for her own consumption and to share with her relatives. MC Pradistha Chakrabandhu, manager of Suan Ban Kaew, once recalled: "Her Majesty used to drive the tractor and cut the grass herself. She also cut the rice, milled the rice and she grew and picked peanuts herself, too."

She established a sedge mat factory at Suan Ban Kaew, improved the quality of mats, developed new products from ordinary mats, introduced a new colour dyeing technique to local villagers and promoted local handicrafts.

The queen also improved the provincial hospital which was later renamed Phra Pokklao Hospital in honour of King Rama VII. She later established the Prajadhipok Fund, which was renamed the Prajadhipok-Rambhai Barni Foundation, and continues to assist the hospital and support the education of local students.

She gave Suan Ban Kaew Palace to the Education Ministry in 1972 when she moved back to her Sukhodaya Palace, which had been used as a government office after the 1932 revolution. Suan Ban Kaew has become part of Rambhai Barni Rajabhat University.

Although Queen Rambhai Barni died over 30 years ago, Suan Ban Kaew Palace remains one of her legacies which has improved the living, farming, education and health of the people of Chanthaburi.

Suan Ban Kaew Palace Museum is located in the compound of Rambhai Barni Rajabhat University on Sukhumvit Road in Moo 5, Tambon Tha Chang, Muang district, Chanthaburi. It is open daily from 8.30am-4pm. Admission is free.

Visit www.wangsuanbankaew.com.

Location

41, Sukhumvit Rd., Tha Chang, Muang Chanthaburi, Chanthaburi 22000 Thailand

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