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Grand Royal Barge Procession Set for King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Birthday in Bangkok: A Cultural Spectacle

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An artist specializing in ‘Chang Sib Moo’ from the Fine Arts Department is meticulously painting the royal barge ‘Khrut Hoen Het,’ with the majestic ‘Suphannahong’ setting a scenic backdrop at the National Royal Barges Museum in Bangkok’s Noi district. This artistic endeavor is in anticipation of the grand royal barge procession to honor His Majesty the King’s birthday on July 28, which will take place in October. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The restoration of an impressive fleet of 52 royal barges is set to be completed just in time for a royal kathin ceremony in October, part of a grand celebration marking the King’s 72nd birthday on July 28, according to the Culture Ministry. Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol announced on Friday that the finishing touches are being applied, with all work slated for completion by the end of this month.

The Fine Arts Department (FAD) has received directives to prepare for the royal barge procession and kathin ceremony scheduled for October 27. This procession will be the first of such grandeur during His Majesty the King’s reign. Their Majesties, the King and Queen, will make a ceremonious journey to Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan to partake in the robe-offering ceremony.

The procession will feature 52 royal barges gracefully navigating the Chao Phraya River, forming an awe-inspiring spectacle 1,200 meters in length and 90 meters in width. The event will require the synchronized efforts of approximately 2,200 oarsmen.

Minister Sudawan underscored that the restoration, overseen by the Conservation Science Division of the National Museum Office and the Office of Traditional Arts, is a testament to the government’s commitment. A hefty budget of 47.3 million baht has been allocated to ensure that these historic vessels are not only safe and functional but also that they maintain the grand tradition of the royal barge procession—a hallmark of Thailand’s rich cultural legacy.

“The restoration work is virtually complete, with only minor adjustments remaining. We expect to wrap up all activities by June 30,” the minister confirmed.

This initiative aligns with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s aspirations to showcase this eagerly anticipated royal ceremony to both Thai citizens and international visitors, highlighting the nation’s cultural depth.

The Culture Ministry is collaborating with the Tourism and Sports Ministry to further promote the splendor of the royal barges post-procession. The National Museum of Royal Barges in Bangkok’s Noi district houses eight prominent royal barges, including the Suphannahong, Narayana Song Suban, Anantanagaraj, Anekajatbhujonga, and four escort barges: Ekachai Hoen Hao, Asura Wayu Phak, Khrut Hoen Het, and Krabi Prap Muang Man.

The FAD is dedicated to promoting the royal procession by providing detailed information about each barge on its virtual museum and extending the museum’s operating hours from 4 PM to 8 PM in December as a special New Year’s gift to tourists. This also aligns with the government’s ‘soft power’ policy to enhance cultural influence.

According to the Royal Thai Navy, His Majesty the King has granted permission to anchor three royal barges—Suphannahong, Narayana Song Suban, and Anantanagaraj—at Ratchaworadit Pier for an outdoor exhibition featuring daily showcases by oarsmen on July 28 and 29.

Chief of Staff of the Administrative Department of the Royal Thai Navy, Capt. Songchai Jitwang, mentioned that there will also be an exhibition honoring His Majesty the King. A rehearsal for the royal barge procession is also scheduled ahead of the royal kathin ceremony, ensuring everything sails smoothly on the grand day.


  1. Alex June 21, 2024

    The grand royal barge procession is such a stunning display of Thai culture. I can’t wait to see it!

    • Sophia Lee June 21, 2024

      I agree, Alex. But do you really think it’s worth spending millions of baht on this when there are so many other pressing needs in Thailand?

      • grower134 June 21, 2024

        Sophia, cultural heritage is just as important. If we lose this, we lose a part of what makes Thailand unique.

      • Alex June 21, 2024

        I see your point, Sophia. However, this event brings a lot of international attention and tourism revenue, which can benefit the economy.

      • John D. June 21, 2024

        Besides, governments should preserve such historical and cultural elements. Not everything can be measured in immediate monetary needs.

  2. Mina June 21, 2024

    Wow, 52 royal barges and 2,200 oarsmen! This event is going to be massive!

    • Arnold June 21, 2024

      Indeed, Mina. But I wonder about the environmental impact of such a large event on the Chao Phraya River. Anyone thought about that?

      • Sarah Wong June 21, 2024

        Good point, Arnold. The river isn’t in the best shape already. Let’s hope they handle it responsibly.

      • Mina June 21, 2024

        Yeah, hopefully, they have measures in place to minimize any negative impact on the river.

  3. Kumar June 21, 2024

    This whole event sounds like a huge waste of money and resources. Why not use that budget to help the poor instead?

    • Pat Lee June 21, 2024

      Kumar, it’s not just about money. This procession is a symbol of national pride and unity. It also boosts tourism.

    • Marxist June 21, 2024

      Pat, national pride doesn’t feed the hungry or provide shelter. It’s a distraction from real issues.

    • Kumar June 21, 2024

      Exactly, Marxist. It’s high time we prioritize human needs over grand displays.

    • Nina S. June 21, 2024

      But cultural events can uplift spirits and bring communities together. It’s not all bad.

  4. Larry Davis June 21, 2024

    Such historical events should be cherished. They remind us of our rich heritage.

    • Chris P. June 21, 2024

      Sure, Larry, but not everyone benefits from these events. The money could be better spent elsewhere.

    • Larry Davis June 21, 2024

      True, Chris. But there’s a balance to be found. Cultural heritage is also an asset, one that needs maintenance and celebration.

    • Chris P. June 21, 2024

      Guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. Different priorities for different people, I suppose.

  5. Tina June 21, 2024

    The artistry involved in restoring these barges is incredible. Truly a testament to Thai craftsmanship.

    • Dr. Ramesh June 21, 2024

      Absolutely, Tina. The ‘Chang Sib Moo’ artisans are preserving a millennium-old tradition. It’s impressive.

    • Liam June 21, 2024

      While I agree it’s beautiful work, is anyone else concerned about the amount of money and labor going into these restorations?

    • Tina June 21, 2024

      Liam, it’s a valid concern. But we should also value the cultural preservation and the skills these artisans bring.

  6. Joe June 21, 2024

    I wonder if foreign tourists are allowed to attend the procession. It would be an amazing spectacle to witness.

    • Lita K June 21, 2024

      Yes, Joe, I believe it’s open for everyone. It’s a great way to showcase Thai culture to the world.

    • Frankie June 21, 2024

      Tourists attending means more revenue for local businesses. It’s a win-win!

    • Joe June 21, 2024

      Absolutely, Lita and Frankie. Plus, it can encourage more people to visit Thailand and learn about its rich traditions.

  7. Mai Lan June 21, 2024

    It’s heartwarming to see the nation coming together for such a significant event. Long live the King!

    • Derek Lim June 21, 2024

      National pride can be a powerful thing, Mai Lan. But let’s not forget the need for social and economic reforms.

    • Mai Lan June 21, 2024

      True, Derek. However, such events can foster a sense of unity and positivity among the citizens.

  8. Ying June 21, 2024

    Has anyone considered the logistics of organizing something this big? Sounds like a nightmare!

    • Jack Son June 21, 2024

      Imagine the coordination needed! But I’m sure the organizers have it all planned out.

    • Ying June 21, 2024

      Hopefully, Jack. I’d hate for anything to go wrong during such an important event.

  9. Lauren June 21, 2024

    I think it’s a beautiful way to honor the King. He deserves it for all he has done for the country.

    • Mark June 21, 2024

      Not everyone shares your sentiment, Lauren. Some think the money could be better spent.

  10. Siwat June 21, 2024

    2,200 oarsmen! That’s a lot of man-power. Hope they are well compensated for their hard work.

  11. Phan June 21, 2024

    I’m curious about the rehearsal for the procession. It sounds like a spectacle in itself.

  12. JaneDoe92 June 21, 2024

    It’s great to see the Culture Ministry taking steps to promote the event globally. This will put Thailand on the map.

    • Tom June 22, 2024

      Global promotion is good, but let’s ensure it doesn’t overshadow local initiatives that need attention.

  13. Karla M. June 22, 2024

    The barge ‘Khrut Hoen Het’ looks amazing against the Suphannahong backdrop. Kudos to the artists!

  14. Lucas June 22, 2024

    A hefty budget for sure, but it’s an investment in preserving our traditions for future generations.

  15. Ella June 22, 2024

    I wonder how they select which barges participate. Anyone have any insights?

    • Daisy June 22, 2024

      Ella, it probably has a lot to do with historical significance and preservation status.

  16. Martin June 22, 2024

    The government’s ‘soft power’ policy is an interesting angle. Cultural influence can be very powerful.

  17. Lily June 22, 2024

    I think it’s great they’re extending the museum hours in December. More people should experience this.

  18. Tony June 22, 2024

    47.3 million baht? Seems excessive to me. Could be used better elsewhere.

  19. Oliver June 22, 2024

    Rehearsals will be key. Can’t afford any mishaps on the big day!

  20. Lena June 22, 2024

    I love seeing the collaborative effort between different ministries for this event. Shows unity.

  21. Aaron June 22, 2024

    A royal kathin ceremony with barges. This will truly be a historic moment to witness.

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