Sanam Luang

sights / Parks & gardens

Sanam Luang information

Location
Bangkok , Thailand
Address
bounded by Th Na Phra That, Th Ratchadamnoen Nai & Th Na Phra Lan
Getting there
Ferry: Chang Pier, Maharaj Pier, Phra Chan Tai Pier
Opening hours
dawn-dusk
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On a hot day, Sanam Luang (Royal Field) is far from charming: a shadeless expanse of dying grass and concrete pavement ringed by flocks of pigeons and homeless people. Yet despite its shabby appearance, it has been at the centre of royal ceremony since Bangkok was founded.

Large funeral pyres are constructed here during elaborate, but infrequent, royal cremations, and explain the field’s alternate name, Thung Phra Men (Cremation Ground). The most recent cremation was a six-day, 300-million-baht ceremony for King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s sister, Princess Galyani Vadhana, in November, 2009; it took 11 months to prepare. Sanam Luang also draws the masses in December for the King’s Birthday (5 December), Constitution Day (10 December) and New Year.

Less dramatic events staged here include the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, in which the king (or more recently, the crown prince) officially initiates the rice-growing season, an appropriate location given that Sanam Luang was used to grow rice for almost 100 years after the royals moved into Ko Ratanakosin. After the rains, the kite-flying season (mid-February to April) sees the air above filled with butterfly-shaped Thai kites. Matches are held between teams flying either a ‘male’ or ‘female’ kite in a particular territory; points are won if they can force a competitor into their zone.