Dusit Garden was the brainchild of King Rama V. Inspired by his European tour in 1897, King Rama V envisioned a new palace with a difference. To achieve this vision, farmland between the Padung Krung Kasem and Sam Sen Canals was bought to site the second palace.
A royal boulevard, Ratchadamnoen Avenue, was built in 1899 linking the Grand Palace to the site of the new palace, four km away, which was named Suan Dusit or Celestial Garden. Construction on the new palace started in 1900.
The result was the magnificent Dusit Garden. Later renamed Dusit Palace, it was actually a huge palace complex consisting of 13 royal residences and three throne halls set in wide beautiful gardens. Covering an area of approximately 76 hectares or 190 acres, it's about the size of 50 soccer fields!
The present Dusit Garden is much smaller though. It's the area bounded by Ratchwithi Road on the north, Sri Ayutthaya Road on the south, Rachasima Road on the west and U-Thong Nai Road on the east, an area of 40 hectares or 16 acres.
Let's take a bird's eye tour to appreciate the expanse and grandeur of this palace complex.
Approaching Dusit Garden from the south along Ratchadamnoen Avenue, the visitor arrives at the Royal Plaza, a broad avenue with the King Rama V Equestrian Monument in the center.
Every year during the King's Birthday celebrations on 5 December, contingents from battalions of the King's Guard Troop the Colour here in a grand parade to honor the King.
In the background stands the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall a majestic Italian architectural masterpiece at the end of Ratchadamnoen Avenue. This throne hall was completed in 1915 and housed the Thai parliament after the 1932 coup when Thailand changed to a constitutional monarchy.
Behind the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall, at the heart of Dusit Garden, lies the crown jewel of the Dusit Palace complex, the Vimanmek Mansion.
This mansion was the residence of King Rama V. It's the largest golden teak mansion in the world. Construction started in 1900 and the mansion was completed on 27 March 1901.
Nearby is the Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall built in 1904 to receive high-ranking dignitaries; the hall has an exquisite display of traditional Thai arts and crafts, sponsored by the royal foundation under the patronage of HM Queen Sirikit.
East of the beautiful gardens of the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall along U-Thong Nai Road is the former palace garden Khao Din Wana which was presented by King Rama VIII to the people in 1938 and converted to a public zoo, the Dusit Zoo. This accounts for the reduction in land area.
No visit to a royal palace is complete without a visit to the royal stables, in this case the Royal Elephant Stables which is now the Royal Elephant Museum displaying the history and origins of the white elephant. The museum is near the east entrance to Dusit Garden in U-Thong Nai Road.
Near the south entrance to Dusit Garden in Sri Ayutthya Road is the Suan Kularb Residential Hall and Throne Hall, home of Prince Asdang Dejavudh, son of King Rama V.
In the western sector of this palace complex are several residential halls some of which are in traditional Thai architecture.
Suan Si Rue Du Residential Hall was the former residence of Queen Saovabha. The hall displays a royal collection of the gifts to HM King Bhumibol on the 50th anniversary of his ascension to throne.
Tamnak Hor Residential Hall was the nuptial home of Prince Paribatra Sukhumbandhu, son of King Rama V. The hall displays 13th century Sukhothai pottery recovered from shipwrecks in the Gulf of Thailand.
Suan Bua Residential Hall was the former residence of Princess Saisavali Bhiromya, a favorite consort of King Chulalongkorn. The hall displays a large collection of Buddha statues, old photographs in the reign of King Chulalongkorn and gifts presented to HM King Bhumibol on state visits.
Suan Bua Plew Presentation Hall has a multi-media presentation of Dusit Garden, useful for visitors who want an overview of the history and exhibits at the various places before deciding where to visit.
The north entrance in Ratchawithi Road is where the tourists usually enter. In this area are a number of royal residences of princesses during the reign of King Rama V and the king's grandmother.
Suan Hong Residential Hall or Swan Garden was the former residence of Queen Savang Vadhana, grandmother of King Rama V. Photographs of Royal Ceremonies performed by King Bhumipol and the Crown Prince are on display.
The next four residential halls were the former homes of sisters of King Rama V. Each residential hall displays a special aspect of Thai history and culture.
HRH Princess Bussabun Bua-Phan Residential Hall displaying a royal photo collection by King Bhumipol of his visits to various provinces in rural Thailand.
HRH Princess Arun-Wadi Residential Hall displaying a royal photo collection by King Bhumipol during his visits to America and Europe.
HRH Princess Puang Soi Sa-ang Residential Hall displaying a rare collection of antique clocks used during the reign of King Rama V.
HRH Princess Orathai Thep Kanya Residential Hall displaying rare antique textiles woven during the reigns of King Rama IV and King Rama V.
Krom Luang Vorased Thasuda Residential Hall was the home of Princess Bootri, daughter of King Rama III and displays the famous Ban Chiang collection, artefacts from a civilization that dates back to 3,600 BC.
Suan Farang Kangsai Residential Hall was the former residence of Princess Phra Raja Jaya Dara Rasmi, a consort of King Rama V. The hall displays personal possessions of King Rama V and a collection of very old oil paintings some of which were gifts on his European visits in the late 19th century.
The Royal Carriage Museum near the north entrance to Dusit Garden has on display 13 royal carriages used by King Rama V.
Dusit Garden is one of the most beautiful districts in Bangkok in terms of historical and cultural relics. The garden captures the splendour of life in the royal palace during the reign of King Rama V.
To get there, please see the Dusit Garden map.