Bangkok is one of Southeast Asia’s largest and most vibrant cities. It contains the lion’s share of Thailand’s wealth and is 10 times bigger than the country’s next biggest city. It is also the seat of government and usual residence of Thailand’s royal family.
Almost all tourists to Thailand arrive in Bangkok and experience its many faces; from crowds of people and its famous traffic congestion, to its exciting and somewhat naughty nightlife, through to world class hospitality and shopping, fine restaurants and a multitude of impressive tourist attractions.
Bangkok facts: Bangkok is bisected by the Chao Phraya River, which is Thailand’s longest and is fed by a watershed of four main rivers in Northern Thailand. Bangkok itself lies on the east side of this wide, meandering river, while the older Thon Buri is found on the west bank. In fact, Thon Buri was established as the original new capital by King Taksin in 1769 after the fall of Ayutthaya; though his successor moved the seat of power across the river three years later.
Bangkok facts: Bangkok is known in Thai as Krung Thep, which are the first two of more than 50 syllables that make up the official name given to the new capital established here towards the end of the 18th century. In short, it is popularly referred to as the ‘City of Angels’ and made famous more recently by the 1975 hit song ‘One night in Bangkok’ by Murray Head.
Bangkok facts: At least six million people live in the municipal region of Bangkok, which extends over 560km². However, many more commute into the city from neighbouring satellite towns that support the capital, sometimes from as far away as Ayuthaya and Rayong.
Bangkok facts: Until the early 20th century Bangkok was made up of many canals, earning itself the name ‘Venice of the East’. Many of these were gradually filled in to create streets and drainage systems, but some remain, albeit severely polluted. Over the river in Thon Buri, many of the canals have survived and now provide an interesting tour, showing how Bangkok once was.
Bangkok facts: Bangkok has always been at the centre of political change, centred around the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen avenue. In October 1973, after a prolonged student uprising demanding a proper constitution, the military government were forced to resign following bloody clashes.
A similar crisis ended in bloodshed again exactly three years later, resulting in the military stepping in and installing a right wing government. Again in May 1992, following a shock coup a year earlier, the people power took to the street once more and the government were forced to step down after further bloodshed.
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