Tucked away just inside a canal across the river from the Grand Palace is the National Museum of Royal Barges. Here are displayed just eight of the over 50 barges that make up formal processions. The most famous and most impressive barge is the Suphanahong, the King's personal boat which was built in 1911. It is in the shape of a swan and measures 46 metres.

Though the royal barges of Thailand are the last of their kind, the spectacular pagent on water can still be seen in Thailand. And this legendary procession seems to have orignated in the capital of Sukhothai kingdom, probably as in the 13th century.

On April 1932 King Rama VII crossed the lower span of the Memorial Bridge and embarked on the barge Suphanahong to travel by barge procession to the Grand Palace to mark the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Chakri Dynasty and Bangkok as the capital city. That was the last Royal Barge Procession of an absolute Monarch of Siam, for the following June a coup d'etat changed the government from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy. The barges were then kept at the dry dock on the Bangkok Noi Canal under the care of Royal Household Office and Royal Thai Navy.

The barge sustained severe damage during bombing of Bangkok in World War ll. In 1947, the Fine Arts Department was assigned the task of restoring the Royal Barges which were once used in the Thai Roayal Court. In 1974, two years after the renovation, the dock was handd over to the Fine Arts Department and declared as the National Museum of Royal Barges. Due to limitation of space, only eight significant Royal Barges are kept in the Museum. Others are still in the custody of the Royal Household Office and the Royal Thai Navy.

   
   

LocationNational Museum of Royal Barges
Arun Amarin Road, Bangkok Noi Bangkok 10700, Thailand.

There are many paths to the National Museum of Royal Barges, I took a taxi and alighted at Arun Ammarin 24, from here there are signs leading to the museum.

Open daily - 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. The museum is closed on New Year's Eve (31 December), New Year's Day (1 January) and Songkran (13 to 15 April).

Admission: Baht 30. If you want to take pictures, there's an additional fee of Baht 100 for a camera.

Information correct as of February 2011.