Perhaps one of the most spectacular of events, the Royal Barge Procession on the ‘River of Kings’, or the Chao Phraya River, holds incredible royal and religious significance in Thailand. With a history of over 700 years, this celebration of Thai royal history takes place at the request of the reigning monarch, currently His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, on nationally auspicious occasions.
As the procession is so rare, it is a significant event for everyone living in Thailand. The last Royal Barge Procession took place in November 2012 during the reign of King Rama IX. This procession, however, was meant to take place earlier in the year. Unfortunately, flooding risks led to the event’s delay. This year, the procession will be held on 12th December 2019.
What Does the Royal Barge Procession Entail?
The procession is a tribute of 52 barges, with one being reserved for the royal carriage. The barges’ journey traditionally travels along the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok. Barges involved in the ceremony are manned by over 2,000 people at the oars, which has been described as a wonderful spectacle!
Thousands of people attend these processions for their vibrant barge dressing as well as traditional songs and chants sung along the way. The procession travels a long distance, across 4km of water. Therefore, there are lots of chances for local people and tourists to take in the parade. During the ceremony, traditional robe presentations will take place via the Royal Kathin Ceremony.
There are a few rules which apply to royal processions. For example, it is forbidden to watch from windows or balconies. Therefore, all curtains along the route must close as a mark of respect. What’s more, bridges and walkways will also close during the event. These rules generally apply during dress rehearsals, too.
When Will the Procession Take Place in 2019?
2019 marks a very special procession, as it will be the inaugural display for King Rama X. It is part of His Majesty’s coronation. However, while the event was originally due to take place in October this year, it will now take place on the 12th December 2019.
The reason for postponing the Royal Barge Procession relates to strong waters in the local area. Therefore, barges on route may be at risk of flooding. To avoid catastrophe, His Majesty’s inaugural procession will take place later than initially thought. It was ultimately the decision of the King himself, who has authority over the event. Rehearsals continue, however, as it is a truly spectacular event – one which only ever happens at specific points in royal history.
Where Can You Watch the Procession?
As you cannot watch the barge procession from hotels or condos, you will need to find a legal spot to see the display. The government invites the public to come and see the barges travel across the waterways through a series of special zones. Over 10,000 people can attend, from the Siriraj Hospital to Thammasart University. You can also watch the parade at Santichai Prakan Park.
The procession is very special to Thai people as well as to those who travel to Bangkok regularly. A royal display of this kind is very rare! What’s more, as it will be the first for King Rama X, it will be an event to remember, and one to see up close.
Centre Point Hotels are proud to present a variety of different hotels and accommodation across Bangkok. Not only do we offer vantage points for you to explore the city's beautiful culture, but we will help you get close to the upcoming procession.
The display is a one-in-a-million event for a lot of people. Therefore, if you are thinking of exploring Bangkok soon, why not take in this fantastic coronation display? Very few will get to see it up close!
The Royal Barge Procession is a colourful event which celebrates the ancient lineage of Thailand’s royal family. Make sure to book your hotel space as soon as possible, and head to a public zone to watch the barges come in.