I have visted Nakhon Pathom three or four times, and on every trip I usually just visit the giant Phra Pathom Chedi . It is true that it is impressive, but then so is the nearby Phra Ratchawang Sanam Chan Palace with its unique mixture of Thai, English Tudor and French architectural styles. I suppose my only excuse for not visiting before is that it isn’t in the Lonely Planet. But then, I guess we should stop blindly following these guidebooks and go off exploring on our own. Sanam Chan Palace was built back in 1907 by command of King Rama VI when he was still the Crown Prince. He used it later whenever he was travelling in this region. Other members of the royal family also lived here at various times. Some of the important buildings built around the 800 rai plot of land are Phiman Pathom, Phirom Phakdi, Wachari Romaya and Samakkhi Mukkhamat.
The grounds of the palace are next to Silapakorn University. When I was there, there were quite a few students wandering around the gardens having their pictures taken at various locations. One popular viewpoint was this statue of Ya Le, the king’s favourite dog that always accompanied him. Unfortuantely he was shot dead one day and the king built this memorial in front of the Chali Mongkhon Asana building. Notice the turret of the building behind that makes it look a bit like a French castle. The exposed wooden beams on the other side, in the top picture, give it a Tudor look.
Other than the students, there weren’t that many people wandering around. I almost had the place to myself. I am not too sure but I got the impression that you can explore the grounds of the palace for free. I had difficulty in finding the main entrance and endeda up arriving through a back gate. The security guard there didn’t say anything. The buildings are all spread out and many of them are now a kind of museum housing artifacts and contemporary photographs. The first one I went in, pictured above, I was asked for my ticket. I told her honestly that I had come in the side entrance and asked her where I could buy the ticket. She pointed to a location on the far side of the park. But she let me in anyway. I eventually found the ticket booth. The prices were written plainly in English that foreigners were 50 baht and Thai people 30 baht. I have no problems with the two price system when they are honest enough to clearly show how much the Thai people are paying. I greeted the lady politely in Thai and for some reason asked her how much the ticket was. Straight away she said “30 baht” which somewhat surprised me. I wasn’t even going to ask if I could have the Thai price as the difference was minimal. But, that was nice of her to do that.
I had an enjoyable time wandering around the gardens and exploring some of the private residences of the royal family. There is also a traditional Thai house to explore. The main building, Phiman Pathom, is pictured above and is connected by a raised walkway to a more tradionally Thai temple like building. You are not allowed to take pictures inside and you also have to leave bags and shoes outside in lockers. But it is worth looking around in order to get a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Thai royal family in the past. You can even sneak a look into their bathroom and bedroom. There was no tour and minimal signs explaining what you were looking at. However, it was nice that we could proceed at our own pace. Around the back of this building are a collection of Land Rovers and Chevrolet vehicles used when H.M. The King and other members of royal family used visited various royal projects around the country.
The palace is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You will find it a short distance West of the chedi.