Barges are impressively decorated boats with carving work. The boats served for military and entertaining purposes. Several barges have been exhibited at the museum.
The museum houses several royal barges, which were once used as war vessels and were subsequently used on royal and state occasions along the Chao Phraya River. The barges are intricate in design, reflecting Thai religious beliefs and local traditions. Signs on the boats tell whether they carried the King, the Queen or other members of the royal family. The barges were last used at the end of 1999. They are quite old now and out of practical use. They only serve as the museum exhibits.
Suphanahong, the King’s personal barge, is the most impressive among these barges. Built in 1911, this 46 metre craft resembles a swan. It was hewn from a single tree and is decorated with gilt carvings and colorful pieces of glass. A golden pavilion on the barge is the royal place in the barge. The barge required more than 50 people to move it.
Royal Kathin Ceremony
Royal Kathin Ceremony is the best time to see the barges on move. The occasion marks the end of the Buddhist period of lent that is from around July to October. The celebration prompts a huge procession of barges on the Chao Phraya River to carry robes for the monks at the Temple of Dawn. King Bhumibol revived the tradition in 1959.
The museum is located at Arun Amarin Road in Bangkok. It is open everyday 9am to 5pm.