Built in 1909 during King Rama V’s reign as temporary royal residence, Phyathai Palace comprises five buildings all constructed in a combination of neo-gothic and Romanesque styles. The interiors showcase a rococo influence, complete with beautiful ceiling frescos, gilded Corinthian columns and elaborately carved fretworks.
Behind the palace’s architectural splendour, though, rests one of the Kingdom’s most important but time-forgotten political history – the Dusit Thani, or ‘Heaven on Earth’, where experiments were carried out on the palace’s 160,000sqm grounds to test-run the country’s transition from absolute monarchy to municipal government and then parliamentary government. The experimental city was constructed to resemble a ‘utopia’, complete with its own city pillar, municipal government, temples and vast agricultural farms. It even had its own citizens, made up of court servants, who were given freedom to vote for their leader once a year.
At the end of eight years, after King Ramai VI passed away, the idea of the Dusit Thani collapsed. The palace was then transformed into a hotel, which by today’s standard would be labeled as a luxury boutique hotel. World War II brought the end to the hotel business, and in 1952 the site was set up as a military hospital and eventually today’s Phramongkutklao Hospital.
The palace is registered as a national historic building and is now a part of the hospital’s administrative buildings. It is, perhaps, the only palace building that you can stroll around freely. There’s an atmospheric café, Café Norasingh, housed inside what used to be the royal reception hall.
- Opening Hours: Guided tours available on Saturdays at 9:30 and 13:30. Otherwise, you are free to walk around.
- Location: Ratchawithi Road (inside Phramongkutklao Hospital)
- BTS: Victory Monument