Details: Bangkok guided sightseeing tour
Bangkok grew up from rather watery beginnings -- while the original temples and royal palaces were on dry ground, ordinary residences were on bamboo rafts on the river -- into a modern sprawling city. Old secrets and traditions still run deep within the city, however. The sacred Emerald Buddha, for instance, a tiny figure carved from glowing jade and considered to have miraculous powers, is a bit of a clothes horse. Thailand's kings have amassed a full wardrobe for the figure, including gold shawls for the winter and monastic robes for the rainy season. You can peek into his closet in the Grand Palace complex, which is a bit of a dandy itself -- one of the buildings is called "the foreigner with the Thai hat" because of its classical Western design topped by three-tiered Thai tower. A heartier Buddha resides at Wat Po, whose sacred image is 150 feet long (the Buddha's smile alone is 15 feet long). The picturesque spire of the Temple of the Dawn rises across the river. The colorful flower mosaics on the temple were created using bits of pottery donated by local residents.
Details: Chao Phraya River cruise
Thailand's kings used to make annual processions down the Chao Phraya River, surrounded by an elaborate 51-boat entourage. The king's own boat was 150 feet long, carved from a single tree into the shape of a swan and covered with gold and glass mosaics, and required 54 men to row. We can't promise you such luxurious accommodations, but we can guarantee a beautiful ride down Bangkok's main river.
Details: Traditional Thai-style buffet dinner
Thailand's celebrated cooking combines fresh vegetables, spicy chilies, sweet coconut milk, and splashes of lemon and lime to create outstanding noodle and rice dishes. Sample some of the best at this buffet.