Bangkok

Short history

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, traces its history back to the 15th century when it was a small trading post in the Ayutthaya Kingdom. In 1782, it became the capital of the new Rattanakosin Kingdom under King Rama I, who named it Krung Thep, or “City of Angels.” The Grand Palace was built as the royal residence.

Over the 19th and 20th centuries, Bangkok expanded and modernized, playing a vital role in Southeast Asia’s political and economic life. It grew as a center for trade and culture, evolving into a metropolis with a rich street life, historic temples, and economic significance in the region.

By the mid-20th century, Bangkok underwent rapid urbanization and population growth, leading to the enhancement of infrastructure and housing projects. The city’s cultural and political past remains evident today in its distinctive architecture, traditions, and population.

Geography

Bangkok is located on the delta of the Chao Phraya River in central Thailand, serving as the country’s capital and primary port. The city’s flat terrain consists of low-lying areas and wetlands, which have been heavily developed over the years. Bangkok’s location along the river makes it a strategic point for trade and transportation.

The city experiences a tropical monsoon climate, characterized by hot and humid weather year-round. The average annual temperature in Bangkok is around 82°F (28°C), with November to February being the coolest and driest months, while March to May are the hottest. The rainy season typically occurs from June to October, with heavy downpours and occasional flooding.

Administratively, Bangkok is divided into fifty districts, each with its own character and development. The city’s layout is a mix of historic temples, commercial districts, and residential neighborhoods. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration oversees the city’s governance and development.

Population

Bangkok is a city with a population exceeding 10 million, consisting of a mix of Thai, Chinese, Indian, and expatriate communities. This multicultural environment makes the city a dynamic and exciting place to live.

In Bangkok, there is a strong sense of community and respect for traditional values. Despite rapid modernization, traditional customs and rituals are still observed in various aspects of daily life.

Religion is an integral part of Bangkok’s culture, with Buddhism being the predominant faith. The city is home to numerous temples and religious sites, attracting both locals and tourists seeking spiritual enlightenment. Additionally, there are smaller communities of Muslims, Christians, and followers of other religions, contributing to the city’s religious diversity.

While Thai is the official language in Bangkok, English is widely understood in tourist areas and among the younger generation. The city’s linguistic diversity reflects its cosmopolitan nature and openness to the global community.

Main sights

  • The Grand Palace: A complex of buildings that was once the royal residence and now houses the revered Emerald Buddha Temple.
  • Wat Arun: The Temple of Dawn, known for its central spire adorned with colorful tiles and porcelain.
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market: One of the world’s largest markets, offering a variety of handicrafts, clothing, street food, and souvenirs.
  • Jim Thompson House: The former home of Jim Thompson, an American entrepreneur who revitalized Thailand’s silk industry.
  • Floating Markets: Traditional markets where vendors sell fresh produce, crafts, and snacks from boats along the canals.

Food

  • Pad Thai: A stir-fried noodle dish with rice noodles, shrimp, tofu, eggs, peanuts, and bean sprouts, flavored with tamarind, fish sauce, and lime.
  • Tom Yum Goong: A spicy soup with shrimp, mushrooms, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chili peppers, seasoned with fish sauce and lime juice.
  • Green Curry: Thai curry with green chili peppers, Thai basil, coconut milk, choice of meat or vegetables, typically served with rice or noodles.
  • Mango Sticky Rice: A dessert combining glutinous rice, ripe mangoes, coconut milk, and sugar for a sweet and creamy treat.
  • Som Tum: A salad made with shredded green papaya, cherry tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, and chili peppers, dressed in lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar.

Fun facts

  • Bangkok’s Golden Buddha Statue. Bangkok is home to the world’s largest solid gold Buddha statue, which can be found at Wat Traimit. This impressive and valuable religious artifact is a must-see for visitors to the city.
  • The Guinness Record-Holding Name. The city’s official name, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon is shortened version of 168 letters name which holds the Guinness World Record for being the longest place name in the world. 
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market features over 15,000 stalls. This massive market offers a wide array of products, making it a shopping paradise for locals and tourists alike.
  • Street Food Paradise. Bangkok is renowned for its street food culture, providing a selection of delectable and budget-friendly dishes, such as spicy noodles and flavorful curries.
  • Suvarnabhumi Airport. Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is among the world’s busiest airports, welcoming millions of passengers every year. With state-of-the-art facilities and efficient services, this airport plays a crucial role in connecting Bangkok to the global travel network.