48 asia THE GRAND PALACE Since 1782 The Grand Palace has been the residence of Kings and is a must on this list of things to do in Bangkok. The complex consists of the palace, temples, gardens and courtyards. It sits right on the Chao Phraya River. We visited Thailand during the mourning period of King Rama IX so besides the large number of tourists, there were mourners waiting on the palace grounds to pay their respects. I was honestly amazed by how many people they let on the property at one time. It was a mini stampede getting out of the complex. Lucky for us we had our My Odyssey tour guide showing us the major sites on the property. One of which is The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. FYI on Temples: While in Bangkok, or Thailand in general, you will have unlimited choices of temples to visit. People asked me, “After you have seen one or two temples or Buddha shrines haven’t you seen them all?” Honestly, I was starting to feel that way by the end of our temple tour day. My advice is to use a knowledgeable tour guide who can explain the di‹erent meanings of each temple and Buddha and therefore make it interesting. Be aware there is a dress code for visiting temples in Thailand. Wear long pants or long dresses/skirts and have your shoulders covered. You will also be expected to take o‹ your shoes to enter the temple but you may wear socks. WAT PHRA KAEW: TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA This temple area is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace. It consists of several buildings and is known to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The actual Buddha is not very big but is placed up high on what looks like stairs of gold. It was made from a block of jade and is 66cm tall. Please note that you are not allowed to take pictures inside. WAT PHO: TEMPLE OF THE RECLINING BUDDHA This was one of two reclining Buddha statues we visited on our list of things to do in Bangkok. It is located on Rattanakosin Island across from the Grand Palace. We took a quick ferry ride over to it. This Buddha is massive! It was built in 1832 and is one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand at 15m high and 46m long. WAT ARUN: TEMPLE OF THE DAWN What can I say, this temple was beautiful! It is located on the Chao Phraya River and part of the temple is made up of colorful decorated spires. Head into the ordination hall for a view of a Golden Buddha. We were able to observe monks praying and after asking their permission I was able to take a picture with them. SPA There are countless massage parlors if you’re looking for relaxing things to do in Bangkok. From inexpensive sidewalk massage places to luxury spas. I was told that I could not leave DAMNOEN SADUAK FLOATING MARKET Located about 61 miles southwest of Bangkok, it took us about one-and-a-half hours to get there. This is a world famous market so its draws a lot of tourists. Since the weekday markets close by early afternoon, tours leave Bangkok early in the morning. I had heard mixed things about visiting this market, but I am so glad that we went. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. While sailing through the canals you witness people selling and trading goods and cooking traditional Thai dishes. We purchased and ate mango sticky rice and coconut ice cream right on the boat! After sailing through the market area, we had the opportunity to visit a few residential areas including a temple on the bank of the river. At the end of the tour we walked through the market sampling delicious Thai food including bowls of noodles for lunch. I highly recommend this tour and experience. CHINATOWN: STREET FOOD TRAILS CHINATOWN TOUR Chinatown in Bangkok is centered around Yaowarat Road in the Samphanthawong district. During the day you will notice Chinese businesses and workers. At night the area comes alive with street vendors and tourists. We did an evening walking tour through Chinatown which included stops at Chinese Buddha temples. The area was loud and bright and busy with street food vendors everywhere — I loved it! With our local guide who knew the best things to do in Bangkok, we made several stops to sample traditional Chinese/Thai dishes. The Pad Thai was definitely my favorite.