Our guesthouse in Bangkok was across the street from the city’s oldest Buddhist monastery, Wat Pho, founded in the 1600s. It’s famous for being a center of learning (especially about traditional medicine and massage), for the elaborately tiled chedis (memorial pagodas) built by early Thai kings, and for its enormous reclining Buddha.
Bangkok has many palaces, but the most famous is the Grand Palace complex and its royal temple, Wat Phra Kaeo. Although Thailand’s kings no longer live here, the complex is still used for ceremonies and administrative functions, and it’s hugely popular with tourists. Monumental buildings, with gilded roofs and glittering statues, attest to the wealth and glory of the much-loved Chakri dynasty, which has ruled Thailand for more than 200 years.
During our evening rambles around Bangkok (enjoying the coolest part of the day), we visited the vibrant Chinatown neighborhood to sample its famous street food. Another evening found us on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, which cuts through the oldest parts of Bangkok, sharing a breezy park with an outdoor exercise class.