The Royal Barges Museum in Bangkok offers a glance into Thai maritime history. Several royal barges which were once used by the royal family and warfare have been kept here. Anyone interested in maritime history can have some entertaining time in the museum.
Barges are impressively decorated boats with carving work. The boats
served for military and entertaining purposes. Several barges have been
exhibited at the museum.
The museum houses several royal barges, which were once used as war
vessels and were subsequently used on royal and state occasions along
the Chao Phraya River. The barges are intricate in design, reflecting
Thai religious beliefs and local traditions. Signs on the boats tell
whether they carried the King, the Queen or other members of the royal
family. The barges were last used at the end of 1999. They are quite old
now and out of practical use. They only serve as the museum exhibits.
Suphanahong, the King's personal barge, is the most impressive among
these barges. Built in 1911, this 46 metre craft resembles a swan. It
was hewn from a single tree and is decorated with gilt carvings and
colorful pieces of glass. A golden pavilion on the barge is the royal
place in the barge. The barge required more than 50 people to move it.
Royal Kathin Ceremony
Royal Kathin Ceremony is the best time to see the barges on move. The
occasion marks the end of the Buddhist period of lent that is from
around July to October. The celebration prompts a huge procession of
barges on the Chao Phraya River to carry robes for the monks at the
Temple of Dawn. King Bhumibol revived the tradition in 1959.
The museum is located at Arun Amarin Road in Bangkok. It is open everyday 9am to 5pm.