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A Regal River Occasion

November 02, 2015
Royal Barge Procession
Every November the banks of the Chao Phraya are flooded with visitors and locals, who look on as thousands of fluttering, floating lanterns are sent downstream to mark Loy Krathong. But this month, all eyes will be turning water-ward a little earlier.

On Monday 9 November, more than 50 showy ceremonial boats – manned by some 2,000+ chanting, traditionally atired oarsmen – will be taking to Bangkok’s main river in a spectacular barge procession to celebrate the King’s 85th birthday.

The Royal Barge Procession was once a common occurrence in the C.17th and C.18th, but during colonial times, it was discontinued. However, the current sovereign, Bhumibol Adulyadej, revived the practice in the 1950s. Since then, the biennial ceremony, which holds both royal and religious significance, has only taken place 16 times – the modest monarch only holds such grand birthday festivities on special occasions.

This year, a total of 52 boats will make their way from the Rama VIII Bridge, passing the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, and arriving at the temple of Wat Arun. These resplendent floating receptacles will include 51 historical vessels – each adorned with hand-carvings and classic Thai designs – and the largest, a gold-leaf-covered royal barge.

Of course, competition for prime viewing spots will be fierce, but fret not, for there are few better places from which to admire the passing procession than the lawns of The Peninsula. Or, if you’re departing before the main event, look out for full dress rehearsals on 2 and 6 November.

 9 Nov, 2015.

Chao Phraya River / between Rama VIII Bridge & Wat Arun