In Thai, Suan Pakkad literally means cabbage garden. However, this Suan Pakkad is currently far from being just a cabbage garden, although in the past the land was exactly that. This was before it became the residence of Prince Chumbhot Paribatra of Nagor Svarga (who is a grandson of King Chulalongkorn or Rama V) and his consort, M.R.Pantip Paribatra, in Bangkok . Nowadays, this complex is known as Suan Pakkad Palace Museum which exhibits an extensive collection of artifacts as well as showcases the architectural aspect of the buildings themselves which consists of several traditional Thai houses. This museum is owned and operated by Chumbhot-Pantip Foundation and it is open daily from 9 am until 4 pm.
This museum is located near Phaya Thai BTS Station, exit 4 to be exact, and walk down a bit along Sri Ayudhaya Road. Unfortunately this museum (and apparently many other museums in Asia) is often overlooked by visitors, and during my visit here, there were only a few others visitors inside. Upon entry, visitors will be provided with a leaflet and a bamboo fan to explore this well-maintained complex. The first building next to the admission office is actually not a traditional one. In this Chumbhot-Pantip Centre of Arts building, we can find an extensive collection of Banchiang collection, with artifacts including painted pottery, bronze and glass beads ornaments. But like in many other museums, it is forbidden to take photos in most parts of the premises.
At the back of the complex, facing the museum’s main garden, we will find the 17th century Lacquer Pavillion which is the oldest building in this complex. This stunning heritage with beautiful mural decorations were relocated from the old city of Ayuthaya and being restored here. And next to it, we can find Kao Kung Bayam, an old wooden barge which belonged to the Prince’s father, previously used in royal river processions of King Rama V. Another impressive architecture is the Building 4, with raised platform above the pond. This building is still sometimes used for dinners and receptions, and having been there, feeling the atmosphere and looking at the lush garden and traditional buildings around it, I can see why.
Meanwhile, other buildings in this museum each displays different kind of artifacts, including prehistoric rocks and valuable minerals, crystals glassware and silverware, porcelain, shells and fossils. Another interesting exhibit is in House 6 which houses the Khon, the Thai version of Indian Ramayanan masked dance. The collection includes masks of the main characters in the story as well as puppets and a model of the battle. Overall, this museum might not take the whole day of your trip in Bangkok, but it is a welcome change in having a glimpse of ancient Thai in the middle of hectic Bangkok. It also nice to see such preserved traditional architecture such as this museum in this modern city. Even within this rather quiet establishment, we are still reminded by the progress of Bangkok, either by the noise of the traffic outside, the passing of the sky train above, or the towering Baiyoke Tower II in the background.