Explore one of Asia’s great and bustling cities—a city of famous temples and shrines, of fine museums, galleries, and performance venues. Bangkok is rich with both culture and contrasts, a place where small side streets lined by traditional shops and buildings nestle quietly between more fast-paced and lively main thoroughfares.
- It's Included:
- Roundtrip air transportation: from Hong Kong to Bangkok
- Accommodations: for 4 nights at the Superior First-Class Montien Riverside Hotel or similar
- 6 meals: 4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner
- Included tours: Bangkok city tour, floral market, Wat Pho
- Exclusive services of a Grand Circle Program Director
- NEW for 2015: Gratuities on this extension are now included for local guides and motorcoach drivers
- All transfers
You'll transfer to the airport for your flight to Bangkok today after finishing your China & the Yangtze River tour. A Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and assist you to your hotel, where you will meet your Thai Program Director. The balance of your day and evening is at leisure to relax.
This morning, have breakfast at your hotel and then enjoy a tour of Bangkok. Step into the Old Kingdom of Siam at the Grand Palace. In 1767, Burmese forces attacked the Thai capital of Ayutthaya, leaving it in ruins. King Rama I moved the capital to its present site in 1782, and the Grand Palace became the centerpiece of a new Thai capital called Krung Thep (City of Angels), known outside of Thailand as Bangkok. The original palace was constructed with some material brought from Ayutthaya, and each successive ruler expanded and refined the complex. It was King Mongkut (or Rama IV) who ruled from this palace, expanded trade with the West, and was romanticized in the musical The King and I.
The palace is a massive square-mile complex of gilded wats (temples), intricate ceremonial halls, and elaborate statues. Enclosed by ancient walls, the palace also contains the residence of the Royal Family and government offices.
Here you will also see the beautiful Temple of the Emerald Buddha with a statue of the Buddha carved from a piece of emerald-green jade. After lunch at a local restaurant, you'll have time to see a jewelry-making demonstration and browse at a local jewelry shop. The rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy at leisure.
Enjoy dinner on your own this evening.
After breakfast, stroll through one of Bangkok’s largest flower markets, marveling at the impressive array of colorful blooms. Then pay a visit to Wat Pho to see its celebrated Reclining Buddha statue—a gilded sculpture that’s more than 150 feet long and 50 feet high. The afternoon is yours to make your own discoveries.
Or, join us this afternoon for an optional tour showcasing Thailand’s cultural heritage. First, you’ll visit Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, a beautiful marble Renaissance-style building constructed in the early 20th century as part of Dusit Palace. Also known as Marble Hall, the building is now a museum celebrated for its beautiful ceiling murals depicting the history of the Chakri Dynasty—Thailand’s current royal house, which has been in power since 1782. The museum also displays a variety of rare and impressive Thai handcrafts.
Afterwards, you’ll take a tour of Siam Niramit theater, in which you will later enjoy a show. You'll enjoy an included dinner, followed by an elaborate stage production celebrating Thai history and culture. Part Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and part Cirque du Soleil, the show employs a cast of more than 150 actors, who wear more than 500 extravagant costumes as they depict seven centuries of Thai history through song and dance.
You have a full day to relax or enjoy the delights of Bangkok at your own pace.
Or, join us for an optional full-day excursion to the ancient city of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose golden ruins remind you of the splendor of early Siam. Ayutthaya was the capital of the kingdom of Thailand for hundreds of years, from 1350 to 1767. With three rivers surrounding this city and more than 30 miles of canals, it was the thriving cultural and commercial heart of the kingdom, attracting foreign merchants from Europe and Asia. In 1767, after 33 dynasties, most of this majestic city was destroyed by the Burmese.
Ayutthaya offers numerous historic ruins, fascinating architecture, and intriguing temples, which you'll discover for yourself during your tour of the ancient city. You'll start with Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, where the royal palace was once located, as well as Wat Phra Mongkol Bopit, home to an impressive Bronze Buddha statue. Then continue to Wat Chaiwatthanaram, renowned for its elaborate, symmetrical architecture. Then enjoy a long-tailed speedboat cruise for views of Phet Fortress, Wat Phanacheong, and other city sights, as well as daily life for those who live along the river. We lunch together aboard an air-conditioned river cruise boat before we return to Bangkok.
Tonight, rejoin your fellow travelers to toast your discoveries of Thailand during a Farewell Dinner at your hotel.
After an early breakfast, you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight home.