Bangkok is chief port capital of Thailand and one of the most important cities in Southeast Asia. It is the epitome of the country's kaleidoscopic blend of old and new. It is an expression of Thai respect for tradition coupled with their vibrant involvement with modern progress. Rama I built the walled Grand Palace, which contains Temple of the Emerald Buddha. During the 19th century, Bangkok was known as the Venice of the East because of its many canals, which served as streets and commercial thoroughfares. Houses perched along the banks of the remaining canals are still common sight. Some of Bangkok’s most distinctive features are the approximately 400 Buddhist temples, known as wats. Bangkok is Thailand's economic center. Other sights to see include Temples, monuments, museums, Vimarnmekh Mansion, and Jim Thompson’s House.
Known as the "Pearl of Thailand," Phuket offers pristine beaches, lush vegetation, traditional villages and seascapes of huge limestone pillars that rise above the turquoise waters of Phang-Nga Bay. With a culture all its own, it combines Chinese and Portuguese influences with that of indigenous ocean-going people. Phuket Town is the island’s capital located in the southeast. The architecture features the attractive Sino-Portuguese style which is reflected in the spacious residences built by wealthy Chinese tin barons as testimony to their success. Visitors come because of the glorious beaches, especially those on the west coast. Patong Beach is about a 45-minute drive from the port and offers a wide selection of watersports. Phuket still casts its spell on all who come to its shores.