The Chankasem Palace opens its doors at night, welcoming visitors every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 4.30pm to 9pm.//Photo: Fine Arts Department
Visit Chankasem Palace beyond regular hours and delve into its sixteenth-century heritage after dark. With a special tour guide from the Fine Arts Department, you will discover the stories of those who lived here and perhaps those who never left.
As part of the “Night at the Palace” event, orchestrated by the Fine Arts Department in collaboration with the National Museum of Chankasem, this special nocturnal experience promises visitors the chance to delve into this four-century-old royal heritage after the sun has set.
Chankasem Palace, whose origins date back to 1577, served as the regal abode for Prince Naresuan during his visits from Phitsanulok to pay respect to his father in Ayutthaya. It played a pivotal role as King Naresuan’s command centre during the Burmese–Siamese War in 1568, adding layers of historical significance to its ancient walls.
The fate of Ayutthaya took a tragic turn in 1767 when invaders ransacked the city, leaving Chankasem Palace in ruins. The once-majestic structure lay abandoned until the reign of King Rama IV of the Rattanakosin dynasty, who, recognizing its historical importance, ordered its meticulous restoration. Today, Chankasem is a palace museum, attracting day visitors keen on exploring its heritage buildings and royal legacy.
The evening visit to Chankasem, bathed in the ethereal glow of the night sky and enhanced by artistic lighting, offers a fresh and enchanting perspective on this historical residence. Starting February 2, the Chankasem Palace Museum will open its doors at night, welcoming visitors every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 4.30pm to 9pm.
Chankasem Palace served as a pivotal backdrop in the lives of Ayutthaya’s crown princes over 400 years. From the valiant Naresuan to the poetic Thammathibet (Chao Fa Kung), these young princes carved out diverse paths—others ascending to become great kings, while some shared sonnets about and with Ayutthaya’s fair maidens before meeting tragic ends. The guided walking tour, led by experts from the Fine Arts Department, promises immersive encounters with the captivating drama and romance of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.
The regal estate also played a role in the cinematic world, featuring prominently in the filming of “Sri Ayodhaya”, a Thai series portraying the last flourishing period of Ayutthaya. As visitors wander through the centuries-old corridors, they encounter a myriad of ancient buildings, each holding a unique piece of Ayutthaya’s cultural heritage.
The palace gate, adorned with heart-shaped boundary markers, extends a warm welcome to visitors, inviting them into the royal residence. The Pavilion in tetrahedron style, situated near the East palace gate, is a true architectural gem, now housing a national museum—a repository of royal tools and equipment used in the palace.
Venturing further into the palace grounds, visitors encounter the Phra Thinang Phiman Rattaya, an exhibition of sculptures made from Sila stone, and the Phra Thinang Phisai Sallak or Hor Song Klong, a 4-storey tower once used for observing the stars. These ancient structures offer captivating insights into Ayutthaya’s rich cultural heritage, transporting visitors to a bygone era.
The “Night at The Palace” experience is not confined to historical exploration. It also offers a diverse range of activities. From guided tours and cultural performances to culinary experiences, visitors have the opportunity to engage with Ayutthaya’s legacy in multifaceted ways. Climb the centuries-old watchtower for a panoramic view of Ayutthaya’s nighttime allure, consult fortunetellers to unveil the mysteries of the future, or simply revel in the enchanting ambience that envelopes the palace grounds.
To add a touch of authenticity to the experience, visitors are encouraged to don traditional Thai attire. This not only allows them to immerse themselves in the cultural richness of the surroundings but also creates memorable moments against the backdrop of Chankasem Palace.
The “Night at the Palace” event seamlessly blends history, culture, and art, inviting travellers to become part of a timeless journey. As the ancient halls echo with tales of the past, participants find themselves on the cusp of literal time travel—a transformative experience that transcends the confines of the present moment.
Chankasem Palace stands not only as a physical structure but as a guardian of Thailand’s royal heritage. “Night at the Palace” opens a portal to the past, allowing modern-day explorers to traverse the corridors of history and witness the splendour of Ayutthaya’s royal legacy under the enchanting night sky.
By Thai PBS World Feature Desk