The Royal Barge Procession ? Splendor on the Chao Phraya River

The Royal Barge Procession in Bangkok, conducted on very rare occasions, is a spectacular royal armada on the Chao Phraya River. This procession is normally conducted on the following occasions:

  • When the King ascends the throne.
  • When the King goes down the Chao Phraya to present robes to the monks during the Royal Krathin Ceremony after the Buddhist Lent in October.
  • When the King goes to Saraburi to pay homage to the Buddha's footprint.
  • When Bangkok receives important Buddha images from other cities.
  • When receiving foreign diplomatic dignitaries to Bangkok.

Some of the memorable Royal Barge Processions during the reign of King Rama IX, the present King, were:

  • On 14 May 1957, to commemorate the 25th century of the Buddhist era.
  • On 06 Apr 1982, to commemorate 200 years of the Bangkok era on the Bangkok Bicentennial.
  • On 05 Dec 1999, to celebrate the 72nd birthday of King Rama IX.

The most recent Royal Barge Procession was on 20 Oct 2003 for the closing ceremony of the APEC Conference in Bangkok, in honor of the visiting heads of state.

This procession was special as this was the first time it took place at night, amid special light and sound effects for the stretch of the river fronting the VIP's. The guests were seated in the Royal Thai Navy Institute across the Chao Phraya River from the Grand Palace.

At 2000 hours, 50 barges consisting of the Suphannahongse, the Narai Song Suban King Rama IX and escort barges were launched from the Wasukri Pier upriver.

This flotilla of royal barges, when fully deployed in a sailing formation of five columns abreast and 90 m wide, stretched 1.5 km along the Chao Phraya.

Concurrently at the Royal Thai Navy Institute, a 10-minute sight and sound presentation in six languages was made on the history and tradition of the royal barges.

The presentation was timed to end as the Royal Barge Procession sailed into view, on waters apparently lit with gold, as a curtain of mist fell over the river, creating an ethereal air.

Two thousand men of the Royal Thai Navy in ancient ceremonial uniforms rowed steadfastly by in perfect unison, honed through months of intense practice. Their chants of the ancient boat song, that dates back to the days of King Narai of Ayutthaya, drifted across the river.

Just then, the night erupted as fireworks burst, filling the sky with the brilliant national colors of the participating nations. The lights cascaded down illuminating the Royal Barge Procession as it streamed past the Grand Palace, a splendid finish to a grand event.

The royal barges can be viewed at the Royal Barge Museum, Bangkok.

This article by Eric Lim first appeared in Tour Bangkok Legacies, a historical travel site on people, places and events that shaped the landscape of Bangkok. Lim, a free-lance writer, lives in Bangkok, Thailand.

In The News:

Trolling the Great Outdoors  The New Yorker

Cheap Safari in Africa For $70 a Day - Heres How To Do It

You would think that a cheap safari in Africa for... Read More

Zambezi Sharks Under Threat at Protea Banks

Sharklife.co.za has been fighting an ongoing for the protection of... Read More

Campsite Meal Planning and Recipe

Hello Again,Today we will be talking about meal planning. Meals... Read More

A Thumb Sketch Outline of Tanzania?s Attractions and National Parks

The Northern Circuit is probably Africa's most dramatic wildlife area.... Read More

Botswana Safari Top Five National Parks and Game Reserves

A Botswana safari is an excellent trip to undertake because... Read More

Hiking from Your Own Home

Picture this. You are stuck at home knee deep in... Read More

How Are Minerals Formed?

HOW ARE MINERALS FORMED?MINERALS are naturally occuring, inorganic solids, with... Read More

Drive Me to WA Today!

Western Australia Driving Adventure Great Australian Road Trip Large... Read More

Hiking in the Forest Knowing When to Slow Down

One morning in mid summer, I headed out for some... Read More

The Classy Way to Do WA

Western Australia ? South-West Coast driving holiday. Great Australian Road... Read More

Going it Alone: The Waterfall at Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

I stood at the observation point on the balcony at... Read More

Old Barney -- A Visit to Barnegat Light, New Jersey

Barnegat Light, NJ is the home to "Old Barney" a... Read More

Side-Tripping in Montana

Nightlife in Big Sky, Montana is more exciting than you... Read More

Wildebeest Migration - How To Get The Best Seats In The House

To get the most out of a wildebeest migration safari... Read More

A Holiday in Rajasthan

Romancing History ? A Holiday in RajasthanRajasthan, the name evokes... Read More

Discover The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden In Arcadia California

In The city of Arcadia California, right next door to... Read More

How to Grab a Bite to Eat and Help the Planet

You CAN grab something to eat, enjoy every bite, AND... Read More

Navigating on the Mountain, in Water, or in Woods there is an eTrex Unit For You

Truly a small wonder, the eTrex takes the best features... Read More

Alaska Hunting Guide

WHAT TO HUNT AND WHERE: Alaska is a hunter's paradise.... Read More

Holidays in Goa

Sun, Sand and Surf ? an apt description for Goa?... Read More

4 Steps to an Enjoyable Hike

Some people have fought many years of their lives to... Read More

Santa Cruz Church ? the Portuguese Legacy in Bangkok

Santa Cruz Church, the church of the holy cross, was... Read More

Camping and Outdoor Activities: Get Involved with Nature

Camping mixed with outdoor activity is a great way to... Read More

Tom Sawyer Day - Floating Down The River

There were four of us on that first Tom Sawyer... Read More

Inflatable Boat Trailers

An inflatable boat trailer is needed if the user has... Read More