Though Bangkok is a stop on many Asian tours because of the shopping, what I found most spectacular was the architecture.
The temples in the Grand Palace complex are truly amazing, an experience that's unique to the Thai capital. Seeing the Upper Terrace upon entering the gate at the complex, you realize that this is something special. The three temples each have their own style, one Sri Lankan, one Cambodian, and one Royal Thai. The distinct styles indicate how far-reaching the Kingdom of Thailand was in the 18th century, when the present dynasty was founded.
Other architectural wonders in the complex include the Scriptural Library, the Royal Pantheon and the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha. The latter is one of the holiest sites in the country, with hundreds of visitors coming to pray and leave offerings.
At the Royal Palace itself, a changing of the guard ceremony, London-style, is held to much pomp and circumstance.
Not in the Grand Palace compound, but nearby, is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, with its huge 162-foot, reclining figure, also a place of pilgrimage for the Thai people.
On a boat ride on the Chao Phraya
River and the Grand Canal, you can see
the fabulous Temple of Dawn, and the Royal Barge Museum, with its intricately carved ceremonial boats.
At another temple, you can feed loaves of bread to schools of enormous catfish, protected from fishermen by the monks. What a life!
A perfectly royal place to stay after viewing the all those Thai treasures is the Shangri-La Hotel, right on the river, where you can luxuriate at their Chi Spa.
For information on a trip to Thailand, you can log on to www.tourismthailand.org. For the Shangri-La Hotel, log on to