Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand is the most visited city in the world with the most international visitors, known for its unique experiences, and eclectic nightlife. Fuelled by tonnes of special offer for tourists, the city is a haven for anyone who would like to let their hair down.
Bangkok is the only cosmopolitan city in a country of small towns and villages and is Thailand’s cultural and commercial centre. It is also the chief port of Thailand.
It’s a city with an estimated population of 10 million as of 2020, and Thailand is just as often known as “The Land of a Thousand Smiles” as it is by its proper name. The fact is, Bangkok is one of the most popular cities in the world, it was officially named the most-visited city, beating out Paris, New York City, London, and others.
The city is located on the delta of the Chao Phraya River, about 40 km from the Gulf of Thailand. It was formerly divided into two municipalities; Krung Thep on the east bank and Thon Buri on the west, connected by several bridges. In 1971 the two were united as a city-province with a single municipal government.
In 1972 the city and the two surrounding provinces were merged into one province, called Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok Metropolis). The metropolis is a bustling, crowded city, with temples, factories, shops, and homes juxtaposed along its roads and canals.
It is also a major tourist destination, noted for bountiful cultural attractions and a nightlife that includes a flourishing sex trade.
The name Bangkok, used commonly by foreigners, is, according to one interpretation, derived from a name that dates to the time before the city was built.
The Thai call their capital ‘Krung Thep’, which is the first part of its mellifluous and lengthy official name meaning “the City of Gods, the Great City, the Residence of the Emerald Buddha, the Impregnable City (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra”. The abbreviated name Krung Thep is often translated as “City of Angels.”
Modern Bangkok has undergone explosive growth, which the authorities have attempted to direct by means of a series of master plans since the 1960s. The city centre, formerly enclosed by a wall, has long been densely developed.
Later expansion has sprawled outward well beyond the administrative boundaries into the surrounding agricultural areas. Some districts have evolved into functional units as the inner city has become more institutional and commercial and the outer city more residential and industrial.
Throughout the city, walled Buddhist temples and monasteries called wats, often sumptuously ornamented, serve as focal points for religious, cultural, and even commercial life.
The governmental and commercial districts of the city occupy traditional sites. Government offices were originally housed in the walled compound of the 18th-century Grand Palace, but by the late 19th century they occupied surrounding palaces and mansions.
The bureaucracy then spread outward into nearby colonial-style or Thai-style office buildings and homes along Ratchadamnoen Road. Multistoried buildings have been erected to meet the ever-increasing demand for space, and the traditional government compounds have become overbuilt.
A number of large camps around and north of the National Assembly Hall constitute the military area.
When Bangkok became the national capital in the 18th century and its citadel was moved to the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, Chinese merchants and tradesmen occupying the site moved a short distance southward to the area now known as Sam Peng. Business was at first carried on in one-story wood and thatch houses.
By the early 1900s a number of streets had been lined with two-story masonry shop-houses. This ever-expanding district now contains rows of shop-houses that are sometimes five or more stories high.
Warehouses line both banks of the river just south of Sam Peng, while industry is concentrated at Sam Rong, south of the port. Nightlife flourishes on Pat Pong Road. The financial district straddles Silom Road.