Everything we know about the Royal Barge Procession in Bangkok on 12th December 2019

The Royal Barge Procession, the final event of the Coronation of King Rama X, will be held on Thursday 12th December 2019. The procession will begin at the Wasukri pier at 3:30 p.m., when His Majesty the King will travel along the Chao Phraya River to the Grand Palace. About 2,200 oarsmen will row 52 barges arranged into five groupings, from the Wasukri pier and head towards Wat Arun, with a total length of four kilometers. Rhythmic barge-rowing songs are part of this ceremonial water-borne procession, which is a rare spectacle, arranged on special occasions only.

URGENT UPDATE: A week before the procession was due to take place, the Thai government announced that the date Royal Barge Procession will be changed from 24th October to 12th December 2019. The reason given was “strong tides”.

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EVENT: Royal Barge Procession and Royal Kathin Ceremony
DATE: Thursday 12th December 2019 (changed from 24th October)
LOCATION: Along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

JUMP TO: Everything we know so far | Dates of Rehearsals | Where to watch | Map of Route | Photos of Royal Barges

The Royal Barge Narai Song Suban H.M. King Rama IX has a figurehead of the god Narai with four arms bearing a trident, a scepter, a discus, and a conch shell on his celestial transport, a Garuda.

EVERYTHING WE KNOW SO FAR:

Please note, everything is subject to change including dates.

  • You won’t be able to watch the procession from the balcony of your hotel or condo room at any location along the route. Further more, you will have to draw the curtains all day. It is quite likely the same strict rules will be enforced during the dress rehearsals. It was like this during the coronation. Even for condos not on the route.
  • Preparations for the royal barge procession will start on 8th July 2019
  • There will be a merit-making ceremony at the Royal Barge Museum on 11th July 2019
  • The royal barges will be moved from the Royal Barge Museum to the Royal Thai Navy dockyard between 12th-23rd July 2019.
  • There will be 10 rehearsals from 22nd August to 7th October 2019. Two full dress rehearsals will take place on 17th October and 21st October 2019.
  • There will 2,200 oarsmen and 52 royal barges
  • The length of the route is 4.2 kilometers
  • The route of the procession will be the same as that for King Bhumibol (see map)
  • During the rehearsals, and during the actual event, the river and all piers will be closed to all traffic four hours in advance
  • During the actual event, all bridges across the Chao Phraya River on this route will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians
  • It will take about twenty minutes for the procession to pass one spot on the river and about 50 minutes for them to complete the route

DATES OF REHEARSALS:

There will be a total of ten rehearsals for the royal barge procession. Out of this, there will be eight minor rehearsals and two large rehearsals. The latter two will be full dress rehearsals. All of the photos on this page were taken in such a rehearsal in 2012. Minor rehearsals will take place from 22nd August to 7th October. I will post dates here as and when I hear about them. Often minor rehearsals have short notice and so keep an eye on my @RichardBarrow Twitter feed. Please note, all dates are subject to change.

  • The first minor rehearsal – Thursday 22nd August 2019
  • The second minor rehearsal – Thursday 29th August 2019
  • The third minor rehearsal – Tuesday 10th September 2019
  • The fourth minor rehearsal – Tuesday 17th September 2019
  • The fifth minor rehearsal – Monday 23rd September 2019
  • The sixth minor rehearsal – Friday 27th September 2019
  • The seventh minor rehearsal – Thursday 3rd October 2019
  • The eighth minor rehearsal – Monday 7th October 2019
  • First Full Dress Rehearsal – Thursday 17th October 2019
  • Second Full Dress Rehearsal – Monday 21st October 2019

WHERE TO WATCH THE ROYAL PROCESSION:

The Royal Thai Government has extended an invitation to the general public from both sides of the Chao Phraya River to witness Thailand’s historic event and congratulate as well as pay respect to Their Majesties on this auspicious occasion. Various sites along the two banks of the Chao Phraya River have been arranged for the public audience with Their Majesties, including the following six official locations which can accommodate up to 10,700 people:

  1. Santichai Prakan Park (for 1,500 people)
  2. Thammasart University (for 1,800 people)
  3. Nagaraphirom Park (for 2,300 people)
  4. Siriraj Hospital (for 100 people)
  5. King Bhumibol’s 72nd Birthday Anniversary Park (for 1,000 people)
  6. Under the Rama VIII Bridge, Thon Buri (for 4,000 people)

More of my photos from the royal barge procession in 2012 >>>

37 thoughts on “Everything we know about the Royal Barge Procession in Bangkok on 12th December 2019

  • December 11, 2019 at 4:23 pm
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    Hello Richard – I have come to BKK from my home in Samui for the procession. The staff at my hotel recommend Siriraj Hospital – but I see they only have room for 100 pax. If that is the case, how soon do you think I need to go there to get in? Thanks if you have time to answer this, your blog
    is easily the most informative on this subject!!

    Reply
    • December 11, 2019 at 7:00 pm
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      Difficult to say but I think some people will be turning up in the morning.

      Reply
  • December 8, 2019 at 10:43 am
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    Thanks Richard for the helpful information. We watched yesterday’s rehearsal from the park at Siriraj hospital. There was a security gate and we had to show our passports to enter , luckily they accepted the photos I keep of them on my phone. The event was fantastic to watch and there was quite a big crowd but all stayed sat down on the raised viewing platform. So pleased that the event was postponed to allow us to experience it. I assume all viewing areas will be packed out for the main event next week.

    Thanks again for the info. Stephen.

    Reply
  • December 6, 2019 at 10:59 pm
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    Where is the bets spot for photographers?

    Reply
  • December 6, 2019 at 8:11 am
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    Thanks for your information.
    I’m wondering if the alcohol is prohibited on 12th Dec due to this event?
    I’m supposed to go some bars or pubs on that day but not sure i should keep this plan or not

    Reply
  • November 27, 2019 at 6:23 pm
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    I can answer my own question: http://www.garda.com reports this:

    A royal barge procession will be held in Bangkok on Thursday, December 12, followed by a parade to the Grand Palace.

    King Rama X and other members of the royal family will take a barge down the Chao Phraya River starting at 13:30 and land at Tha Ratchaworadit pier. According to media reports, 52 vessels will participate in the procession. A parade led by soldiers will start from the Rajakij Winitchai Pavilion and end at the Grand Palace via Maharat and Na Phra Lan roads.

    Rehearsals will be held on Wednesday, December 4, and Saturday, December 7, with a final dress rehearsal on Monday, December 9. Spectators will be allowed to watch the procession along the riverbank and are being asked to wear yellow.

    Heightened security measures, including an increased security presence and road closures, and transportation disruptions are expected around the royal processions. The government will not declare December 12 a national holiday to avoid business disruptions. However, crowded conditions are anticipated in the area.

    Reply
  • November 27, 2019 at 6:18 pm
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    Richard, Is there any news of more rehearsals before the revised date of Dec 12?
    Thanks in advance.
    Keith

    Reply
  • October 22, 2019 at 9:18 pm
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    just want to drop a Thank You message for your very detailed information page. watched the dress rehearsal on 21st Oct at Santichai Prakan Park. it was wonderful. the dress rehearsal actually started around 330pm and lasted almost an hour.

    Reply
  • October 18, 2019 at 12:00 am
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    I am working at the Siriraj installing equipment purchased by the King and ironically it may now be delayed due to accommodation on the river where we usually stay and not allowed to delivery equipment on certain days, they even more or less shut the hospital down. I was hoping to watch it from my panoramic hotel view on the river, not a chance apparently.

    Reply
  • October 3, 2019 at 10:36 am
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    We would like to see today’s rehearsal Oct 3. Do you know time yet for it?

    Reply
    • October 3, 2019 at 10:39 am
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      No fixed time. I can only say it’s from around 3pm to early evening.

      Reply
  • October 1, 2019 at 9:55 pm
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    Where can you view the Procession, and What time?

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 1:19 pm
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    Hello Dear Richard & Thank you for very informative, helpful & unique website.
    If you don’t mind , I have few question about Royal Barge Procession & to be exactly
    Full Dress Rehearsal on October 17 & 21-2019.
    What’s time , when rehearsal start ( early morning or day time).
    is Full dress rehearsal has the same route as Royal Barge Procession ?
    I checked out your map for viewing procession. Is it still goof for rehearsal?
    Thank you very much for your time. I,m flying from NYC to BKK very soon , unfortunately I have NO time to enjoy Royal Barge Procession & i hope i can get great pictures during rehearsal.
    Thank you again , Sincerely Aleksey

    Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 6:21 pm
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    Hi Richard,
    you are doing a great job and a great service to the cultur-loving community living in and visitors to Thailand!!
    We would love to see one of the rehearsals of the barge procession. However, we need to know the starting time … would you know that by any chance?
    Also: is there now a definition if the dress rehearsal will take place on 16th or 17th of October?
    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • September 25, 2019 at 6:32 pm
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      They don’t publish exact times as it might vary. But I do know that they start to close the river around noon and crossriver ferries around 3pm. So, fair to say the procession takes place late afternoon. Sometimes already dusk when it finishes.

      Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 11:43 am
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    Hi Richard, Wonderful details. Helped a lot.

    I was wondering if the area at Wat Arun and environs are open to the public during the main event?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • September 25, 2019 at 6:30 pm
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      Yes and no. As the king will be there, that area will be the hardest area for you to observe. You would have to arrive at least the day before and abide by all strict rules.

      Reply
  • September 18, 2019 at 2:58 am
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    Hello. Thank you so much for the information. When do you think the date for the Royal Barge procession will be confirmed? I don’t want to book my air ticket and hotel until then. Could you recommend some good spots to watch it from, somewhere not so crowded and on a narrower stretch of the river so that the barges are not so far away? Are there any spectator stands for which we can buy tickets? Will there be a dress code? Many thanks once again. Kind regards, Ken.

    Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 3:40 pm
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    Hi Richard,
    May I compliment you on your detailed information on your site.
    I operate a private river cruise business and my captain knew nothing!
    Thanks and regards,
    Ivar

    Reply
  • August 27, 2019 at 9:48 am
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    Hi Richard….by chance,do you know the time of the minor rehearsal on 29 August, Thursday ? I will be in Bangkok

    Reply
  • August 16, 2019 at 11:46 am
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    Will we have to pay to see the event? And, yes, please keep us updated about where to photograph the event. Thank you for all your hard work! It’s greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  • August 15, 2019 at 7:35 pm
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    Crazy ! Tourist would spend much to see this rare event

    Reply
  • August 15, 2019 at 12:43 pm
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    Thanks a lot for these info’s

    Reply
  • July 28, 2019 at 4:46 pm
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    Hi Richard,
    Longtime since we have been in touch..
    Any idea where the Public viewing will be?
    Do You think they will have specific sites(as before)

    If so, any idea where and when we can get tickets?
    Cheers and always good to get you info. 😉
    David

    Reply
    • July 28, 2019 at 4:48 pm
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      I am presuming there will be a grandstand at the Thai Navy Base across the river from the Grand Palace. At this moment in time there is no information about this. As and when I get new information, I will update this blog post and post to my social media accounts.

      Reply
  • July 25, 2019 at 5:14 pm
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    Sawasdee krup from Chiang Mai, yes I live here. My plans are to be in Bangkok to view this historical event !!!

    Thank you for this update….I wish I followed you before this announcement, then I would have had my preferred riverfront hotel room.

    I have a question about viewing (for actual event) from a Hotel room….is this really enforceable ? What about viewing from a restaurant ?

    For Full Dress Rehearsal …. do you think this will be same ?

    How can I inquire further ???

    Again thank you for your post. I will be following you know

    Reply
    • July 25, 2019 at 5:21 pm
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      It’s difficult to answer questions like this as I can only go on past events. Some of the hotels I have spoken to so far have said that there will be security forces at their hotel for the event. And that riverside restaurants will be closed. But we don’t know yet if that’s like that at every location. During the previous barge procession we were able to take pictures unhindered during the dress rehearsals. However, I’m not yet about this time as it’s a new king. During the rehearsals for the parade for the coronation they were really strict about buildings overlooking the route. Even a condo on the other side of the river had to tell everyone they weren’t allowed to stand on the balcony and they had to keep curtains closed. I’ve never seen anything like that before for a rehearsal.

      Reply
      • July 25, 2019 at 5:40 pm
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        thank you for quick reply….and thank you for any updates on this …if you hear. Love your FB Page….have already shared some things.

        Reply
        • August 23, 2019 at 10:44 am
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          Hi Richard….any update on viewing from a hotel balcony for full dress rehearsal on 21 October ? Is there anyone we can inquire with ? I understand for actual event on 24 October, one cannot.

          Reply
          • August 23, 2019 at 10:46 am
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            At this stage, the only people you can ask is the hotel management. But, their answer might not be fully correct. As the final decision is up to the palace.

      • December 11, 2019 at 7:52 am
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        Thank you for all the information you provide.

        Shame they make it so hard to see!

        Reply
    • July 29, 2019 at 12:08 pm
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      Don’t get that at all, just cancelled my expensive Hotel room overlooking the river!

      Reply
      • October 15, 2019 at 4:04 pm
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        My understanding is that you would not be allowed to view this from high up as this means your head would be above that of the king and this is not allowed. I once was on an overpass as royal procession approached and was told to get off the overpass

        Reply

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