One of the grandest spectacles in Thailand and indeed, the world, the Royal Barge Procession is an ancient tradition that was revived by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1959. This breathtaking water-borne procession is reserved for nationally auspicious occasions and has been held only 16 times during His Majesty’s reign.
The main procession will be held between 15.00-16.00 hrs. on 9 November but full dress rehearsals by the Royal Thai Navy will also be held on 2 November and 6 November at 1500. Tickets are available at the website listed below for those wishing to watch the Procession in comfort from the Royal Thai Navy pavilion. Alternately, the Procession can be viewed from various public spots along the river.
King Bhumibol, the ninth monarch of the Chakri dynasty, founded in 1782, is the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, and has since 1989 been the world’s longest reigning incumbent monarch.
The Procession, which this year will commemorate the auspicious occasion of HM the King’s 85th birthday on 5 December 2012, involves barges carrying the deeply revered Buddha image (Phra Buddha Sihing) and members of the royal family to present offerings of saffron kathin robes, food and other necessities to the monks at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).
Truly a sight to behold, the procession consists of a flotilla of 52 traditional-style barges arranged in five columns, based on a battle formation from ancient times. This is made up of four major royal barges — Suphannahongse, Narai Song Suban H.M. King Rama IX, Anantanagaraj and Anekchatbhuchongse, ten barges with animal figureheads and 38 smaller vessels.
The five-column flotilla stretches 1,280 metres in length and 110 across. A total of 2,200 sailors from various units within the Royal Thai Navy will serve as oarsmen.
The procession takes approximately 55 minutes to make the 4.5 kilometre journey down the Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun, covering the section from Thonburi Bridge to Phra Phutta Yodfa Bridge. The official ceremony is expected to end at approximately 5.30 pm.
The royal barges of Thailand are the last of their kind in the world. The last time that a royal barge procession was organized was on 12 June 2006 for the diamond jubilee celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of HM King Bhumibol’s accession to the throne.
This year, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over the Royal Barge Procession and Royal Kathin ceremony at Wat Arun on behalf of His Majesty the King.
Date of Dress Rehearsals: November 2 and 6, 2012
Date of the Royal Kathin Ceremony and Royal Barge Procession: November 9, 2012
Place: Tassana Pirom Yard, Naval Assembly, Royal Thai Navy, Bangkok
Price of Ticket: 1500 baht / seat
How to get the ticket:
1. Tel: +66 2970 2544 to 5
The Royal Barge Procession Program
15:00 Hrs: The Royal Barges will be moored at the Vasukri Royal Landing Pier.
15:10 Hrs: His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over the Royal Barge Procession and Royal Kathin Ceremony at Wat Arun on behalf of His Majesty the King. The Crown Prince will board the Royal Barge Suphannahong at the Vasukri Royal Landing Pier.
15:40 Hrs: The Royal Barge Procession will pass Royal Thai Navy Convention Hall.
16:00 Hrs: His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will present Kathin robes to monks at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).