Tenth on our list of the most visited cities of the world is the capital of Thailand, Bangkok. The Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, or the City Of Angels as the natives call the city, attracts over 7.2 million visitors each year. A popular gateway to the East, Bangkok is also an Alpha global city and a very important port. Besides tourism, Bangkok has shown tremendous growth in matters of finance, business, and trade. It is also the second most expensive city to live in the subcontinent. Despite this what attracts tourists to Bangkok is the distinctly oriental outlook, the feisty environment and the friendliness of the city.
The rich and colorful history of Bangkok dates back to the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries. At the time Thailand was under the reign of Ayutthaya. Bangkok at the time was little more than a fishing hamlet on the banks of the River Chao Phraya. The importance of Bangkok as a strategic port increased significantly over the centuries and maritime trade with France became stronger in the 17th century. The French attempts to control the region were thwarted and the French drummed out of Siam by 1688 after the French had laid siege to the city.
The illustrious Ayutthaya fell to an expanding Burmese Empire in about 1767. Phraya Tak, an Ayutthya general gained dominance and declared himself the ruler of the region. King Takin, as he came to be known made Thonburi his capital. In 1782, however, Takin’s general Chao Phrya Chakri ascended the throne. Better known as King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke or as Rama I, this ruler moved the capital of his kingdom to the river’s eastern bank, to the area which is now called Yaowarat.
|Facts about Bangkok|
|Area||606 sq miles|
|Average Summer Temperature||95°F|
|Average Winter Temperature||75°F|
|Currency||Thai Baht (THB)|
|Dialing Code||Country 66 City 02|
|Major Airports||Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK); Don Muang Airport (DMK)|
|Geographic Coordinates||13°75′ N, 100°48′ E|
|Time Zone||Thailand Standard Time|
The Bangkok then entered a spectacular age of growth and development. With the prominence of Thailand in the international political and economic growth of the East, Bangkok has never failed to be in the spotlight for long. The 20th century brought modernization. Trade and distribution of Thai products were facilitated by the introduction of railways and the development of infrastructure by of Kings Mongkut. The shadows cast by World War II have long been outgrown and Bangkok is now one of the top world destinations for business and leisure travelers.
When To Visit Bangkok ?
Bangkok experiences three distinct seasons – Summer, Monsoon, and Winter. Warm and tropical Bangkok is never really too cold. Summer, from February through April gets rather dry and hot but come May the torrid tropical thunderstorms cool things down. Tourists prefer to avoid the monsoons as both the heat and humidity tend to soar but this is also the best season to get discounted deals on hotels and flight fares. If you plan to spend the Thai New Year, Songkran, in Bangkok plan your trip for April. The Bangkok Countdown in December and the Loi Krathong in November are also great times to visit the city.
Travel and Transport in Bangkok
Bangkok is served by two airports – the Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and the Don Muang Airport (DMK). While most international flights connect to Bangkok through the Suvarnabhumi Airport, some domestic airlines are likely to connect you to the Don Muang.
Transport within the city is inexpensive. In fact the local taxis and tuktuks may well be the cheapest anywhere in the world. If you are alone you may want to try the motorcycle taxis as well. The bus network is extensive but may not be too comfortable. The boats and ferries may not be very comfortable but make for some fun rides.
Top Places To See In Bangkok
Once the bewildering riot of colors, sounds and the Thai language has settled in, it is time to draw up an itinerary. The Old City should ideally top your list. And the Grand Palace should be the first thing you see in the Old City. Commissioned in 1782 by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke when the capital was moved to the east bank, this magnificent palace complex has been the official residence of the Siamese kings since 1782. Till about 1925, the courts and governments of the kings were also based here. The emerald Buddha in the Wat Prakeaw within the palace precincts has been carved out of a single stone. It is in grand ceremony that the robes of this idol are changed by the Thai king. In the Old City, Wat Pho is another temple which must make it to your list. Also known as the Wat Phra Chetuphon or the Temple of The Reclining Buddha, this is the largest temple in the city of Bangkok and is home to a huge but stunning idol of Buddha in a recline. The idol is about 46 meters long and is glazed in gold. The temple complex in itself is a marvel. The high, carved murals and the sprawling gardens are as much a delight as the insides of the temple. Also in the Old City, the Khao San Road is the most happening destination. Do not miss the nightclubs, the cosmopolitan culture, the markets, and the riot of colors.
How to reach (transport) :
You can travel to Bangkok in the following ways :
- The Suvarnabhumi Airport is the main airport of Bangkok and the busiest in Asia. It is located 30 kms to the east of the city. Flights are available to various destinations in Thailand as well as to all the major cities of the world.
- The city is also served by the Don Muang Airport which is located 30 kms to the north of downtown Bangkok. Most Asian flights depart from here.
- There are three bus stations in Bangkok and the city is well connected to various parts of Thailand with regular routes.
- The State Railway of Thailand connects Bangkok to a vast number of destinations within the country.
- Bangkok has 4 kms of coast and you'll often find cruise ships here.
The best time to visit Bangkok is during the winter which lasts from November to February as the weather is dry and cool during this time.
Culture (fairs and festivals) and traditions :
A number of events and festivals are celebrated in Bangkok. Some of them are as follows:
- The Chinese New Year is a major festival, mostly celebrated on the Yaowarat Road. It is celebrated with lion and dragon dances, music, Chinese costumes etc. Exotic foods are served.
- The Kite Flying Festival is held in March with an annual kite flying race.
- Thai New Year or Songhkran is celebrated from 13th to 15th April. A huge water fight is held. There are parades of music and other performances.
- The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is held on 9th May presided over by the king. The ceremony is aimed at praying for a good harvest and the beginning of a new planting season.
- Loy Krathong is celebrated on 28th November. This is the occasion when the Goddess of water is worshipped. Beautiful lotus shaped vessels decorated with flowers and lights are set afloat.
- Makha Pucha is celebrated on 11th March to commemorate the day when Buddha began his preaching. A candle ceremony is performed at the Buddhist temples.
Things to do in Bangkok
Shop, Party, Eat, Pray – These could well be the mantra of those heading to Bangkok. The city is best known for its inexpensive bazaars and open marketplaces. You may want to pick up a paper lantern, an oriental rug, a brass Buddha or silk clothes. Whatever your choice Bangkok provides you plenty of options. Try one of the many floating markets of Bangkok – an experience very few other cities are likely to provide. While fruit sellers and other traders pile up their boats and sell their wares through small boats and canoes. Take a relaxed boat ride through the Damnoen Saduak. The other floating markets are of Bangkok are Taling Chan Market, Tha Kha, and Bang Ku Wiang Market.
Bangkok is not all open markets. The city is home to some of the trendiest malls and shopping arcades. The glitzy glamour of high fashion brands and renowned labels are very much part of the shopping experience here. Try the Siam Discovery for a taste of the best local designers and popular European brands as well. And since the Mall building also houses Madame Tussauds plan the shopping to go with your sightseeing. Try the Gaysorn Shopping Mall for exclusivity and the Emporium at Phrom Phong or the Pantip Plaza for a host of IT gadgets, computers, and electronic items. Terminal 21 promises the best of international shopping experiences and quite literally but head to Siam Paragon if your shopping style includes visiting some great cafes and exploring the Siam Ocean World Aquarium.
Nightlife in Bangkok is just as colorful as the city’s brightly lit up bazaars. Take a romantic dinner cruise down the Chao Pray River. Watch the twinkling colors of the city from the serenity of your boat. Clubbing and pubing is an integral part of the city’s charm. Try one of the many live music night clubs or jazz clubs on Khao San Road. The city has a very hearty gay life with a number of gay bars across the cityscape. The one part of Bangkok that could give Moulin Rouge a run for its money is Soi Cowboy of the Sukhumvit area. Jazzy, carnival-like nightbars and eateries line this entertainment area. Read more about things to do in Bangkok.
Eating Out in Bangkok
Known for its eat outs and street food, Bangkok is also a gourmet haven. Here are some of Bangkok’s best restaurants.
95/5-6 Thong Lor Soi 3, Sukhumvit Soi 55
Tel: +66 (0)2 712 5001
|New York Steakhouse|
W Marriott Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi 4
Tel: +66 (0)2 656 9798
Peninsula Plaza, 153 Rajdamri Road
Tel: +66 (0)2 652 1399
Sofitel Residence on Sukhumvit Soi 19, BTS: Asoke
Tel +66 (0)2 204 2004
|Som Tam Nua
392/14 Soi Siam Square 5, Rama 1 Road
Tel +66 (0) 22 51 4880
|The Seafood Bar
41 Somerset Lake Point, Sukhumvit 16, Sukhumvit Road
Tel: +66 (0)2 663 8863
Staying in Bangkok
|Super Luxury Class Hotels:
The Tower Club at Lebua
1055/42 Silom Road, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500
Tel: (66) 2624-9555
|Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit
250 Sukhumvit Road · Bangkok 10110
Tel: (66) 2649-8888
Mid Economy Hotels:
|Prince Palace Hotel
488/800 Bo Bae Tower, Damrongrak Road,
(Off Krungkasem Road) Klong Mahanak, Pomprab,
Tel : (66) 2628-1111
|The Twin Towers Hotel
88 Rong Muang, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: (662) 216-9555
|Golden House Bangkok
1025/5-9 Ploenchit Road, Lumpini,
Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel : (662) 252 9535
|WE Bangkok Hostel
122 Sathorn Soi 12, Silom Soi 9 Silom,
Bangkok 10500 Thailand Tel : (662) 6352217
Last Updated : June 30, 2015