Bang Pa-In Palace
I opted for an excursion outside Bangkok to an area called Ayutthaya. This was the capital of an independent kingdom until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767. Today, Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it's ruins give a sense of former size and glory, as well as offering an insight into Thailand's cultural heritage.
The Ayutthaya area is about 55 miles north of Bangkok, or about a 90 minute bus ride. We returned to Bangkok on a river boat - a very good buffet lunch was included. We were picked up at our hotel at 7:00 am and arrived back at about 4:00 pm.
The first place we visited was Bang Pa-In Palace, also known as the Summer Palace. It was originally constructed in 1632, but destroyed and lay empty throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries. Most of the present buildings were constructed between 1872 and 1889.
The facilities include vast gardens and landscaping, a Chinese-style royal palace and throne room, a royal residence, a brightly painted look-out tower and a famous pavilion constructed in the middle of a pond.
Today the palace is used occasionally by the Thai royal family as a residence and for holding receptions and banquets. I thought this was an excellent trip/cruise to the Ayutthaya area and highly recommend it to anyone who is staying an extra, full day in Bangkok.
Photos belong to Phil Bianco.