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Kingdom of Thailand

The capital city of Thailand, is not known by the name Bangkok to the Thai people, the actual name in Thai is Krungthepmahanakorn Amornrattanakosin Mahintrayuthaya Mahadilokpob Noparat Rajataniburirom Udomrajanivej Mahasatharn Amornpimarn Awatarnsatis Sakatadtiya Wisanukamprasit, which is interestingly enough registered in the Guiness Book of Records as the city with the longest name! But fortunately for us it is abbreviated for daily use to Krungthep, or Krungthep Mahanakorn, meaning City of Angels. As for the word Bangkok, this was derived from Bang Kork, and refers to the original site which is only a very small part of what is today called Bangkok by westerners.

The city was created in 1782 when King Rama I moved the capital from Thonburi across the Chao Phraya River, with the river serving as a natural line of defense against the ever-threatening Burmese invaders. Back then Bangkok was still only a small village, with canals instead of streets. Today it is a vibrant, thriving metropolis of over six million people - approximately 10 percent of the total population of Thailand, combining both Bangkok and Thonburi.

Though you may find that Bangkok has become a very modern city in every sense of the word, many of the fascinating ways of the original settlers are still in vogue - adding to the charm of the city. For example you will still find food vendors, what we call Thai Fast Food, plying virtually every street of the city serving up a quick and economical meal to office workers, laborers and millionaires alike. Water taxis and water buses still ply the river and canals serving commuters from suburban residential areas to the inner city, and for those who simply want to get from A to B using the fastest mode of transport, after the motorcycle taxi of course. Floating markets are still a normal way of obtaining daily needs of the people living along, or even on these waterways. So, as you see, Bangkok may be a big city, but our Thai culture and customs are still very evident everywhere you look.


Grand Palace This city landmark should be the first place on any visitor’s itinerary. It is a huge compound on Na Phra Lan Road consisting of several buildings with highly decorated architectural designs. Wat Phra Kaeo in the same compound enshrines the Emerald Buddha image, most revered by the people. The complex is open daily from 8.30 a.m.-3.30 p.m. . Proper attire is essential.

Sanam Luang This huge public ground in front of the Grand Palace is used for royal cremation ceremonies and other special events including the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, Celebration of the King’s and Queen's birthday, and the New Year Festival. Other nearby monuments include the Statue of the Earth Goddess, erected in the reign of King Rama V to provide public drinking water, and the City Pillar Shrine or San Lak Muang, a temple-like structure erected by King Rama I.

National Museum within walking distance of the Grand Palace, this complex was once a palace consisting of several old beautiful Thai style buildings. It houses a vast collection of artifacts found in all parts of the country ranging from Neolithic times, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya to the Bangkok period. The museum is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, 9.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m. and closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and annual holidays. Guided tours in English, French, German, and Japanese are provided to visitors on certain days of the week.

National Gallery Museum Located on Chao Fa Road, this museum exhibits traditional and contemporary works of art created by Thai artists. Opening time is similar to that of the National Museum.

Wat Mahathat This old temple on Na Phra That Road was built in the reign of King Rama I. It houses Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University, one of the two highest seats of Buddhist learning in Thailand and also offers meditation classes for foreigners.

Wat Pho This world famous temple is located on Thai Wang Road next to the Grand Palace. It is Bangkok’s oldest and largest temple. The gigantic gold plated reclining Buddha with inlaid mother-of pearl soles is highly revered among Buddhists. Also regarded as the first center of public education, or sometimes called "Thailand’s first university", the temple houses mural paintings, inscriptions, and statues which educated people on varied subjects; for example, literature, warfare, archaeology, astronomy, geology, meditation, medicine, and Thai traditional massage.

Wat Arun Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, this temple can be reached either by Arun Amarin Road or by boat from Tha Tien Pier, near Wat Pho. It was restored during the brief Thonburi period to be the Royal Chapel of King Taksin. An important structure is a 79-metre-high pagoda or "Phra Prang" decorated with ceramic tiles and fragments of multicolored porcelain. The name of Wat Arun literary means "Temple of the Dawn", but the most beautiful view of it can be seen from the east side of the river at sunset.

Wat Ratchabophit This temple is located on Fuang Nakhon Road near Wat Pho. Built by King Rama V in 1869, it was in keeping with tradition that each monarch constructed a temple to mark his reign. The temple is a mixture of local and western styles, showing an awakening interest in new construction design.

Pak Khlong Talat This is Thailand’s biggest wholesale market for all kinds of cut flowers and vegetables. Plenty of flower stalls lining Maharat Road near the Memorial Bridge offer colorful and bustling scenes every morning.

Wat Suthat This temple on Bamrung Muang Road is famous for the excellent murals created in the reign of King Rama III. The vihara (preaching hall) should be seen for its collection of gilded Buddha images. A huge door with intricate carving, which is the masterpiece of King Rama II, once belonged to this temple and is now kept in the National Museum.

In front of the temple is the Giant Swing or Sao Ching Cha, where a Brahmanic ceremony had taken place until the early 20th century. Many nearby shops stock a very comprehensive range of Buddhist religious supplies.

Wat Thepthidaram Located on Mahachai Road, this temple was built in the reign of King Rama III with a mixture of Chinese architectural styles. Sunthon Phu, one of Thailand’s greatest poets, had resided in this temple during his monkhood from 1840-1842.

Democracy Monument This monument in the middle of Ratchadamnoen Avenue was constructed to commemorate the peaceful changeover from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy on 24 June, 1932.

Wat Ratchanatdaram This temple is located on Mahachai Road. It houses a spectacular unique styled structure called Loha Prasat, which is the only one of its kind left in the world.. It stands 36 metres high with 37 surrounding spires. The statue of King Rama III who built this temple in 1846 is situated next to the compound.

The Golden Mount With the entrance on Boriphat Road, this is an artificial hill topped by a gilded pagoda. The mount is 260 feet in height from its base. Begun by King Rama III and completed in the reign of King Rama IV, it is one of the most celebrated landmarks in Bangkok’s old area and offers a panoramic city view from the top.

Wat Indravihan Located on Wisutkasat Road, this temple is known for a huge standing Buddha image called Luang Pho To. The image, 32 metres tall and 10 metres wide, was constructed in the reign of King Rama IV. The topknot of the image contains the relics of Lord Buddha brought from Sri Lanka.

Wat Bowon Niwet This important temple is located on Phra Sumen Road in the Bang Lamphu area. Built in 1829, it is the shrine-hall of Phra Phutthachinnasi, a very beautiful Buddha image which was molded in 1357. King Rama IV used to be a chief abbot of this temple before he ascended the throne. Other Chakri Kings who had resided here during their monkhood include King Rama IV and King Rama VII, as well as His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Wat Benchamabophit Also known as the Marble Temple, this temple is on Si Ayutthaya Road near the Chitralada Palace. The main building was constructed during the reign of King Rama V. Its interior is magnificently decorated with cross beams of lacquer and gold. A large collection of bronze Buddha images lines the wall of the spacious inner courtyard.

Vimanmek Royal Mansion Located on Ratchawithi Road behind the National Assembly, this is the world’s largest building made entirely of golden teak. Removed from Ko Sichang in Chonburi province, it was rebuilt in the Dusit Palace in 1900 by the command of King Rama V. Many rooms currently maintain the atmosphere of the past. A guided tour is provided to visitors.

Most of the buildings in the same compound are now used as museums. The outstanding one is Abhisek Dusit Hall, which exhibits H.M. Queen Sirikit’s collection of handicraft masterpieces created by rural people. The other displays various items and art objects including H.M. King Bhumibol’s photography, paraphernalia of rank and portraits, ancient cloth, clocks, and royal carriages.

Dusit Zoo This zoo is managed by the Zoological Park Organization. It houses various species of tropical animals, including 300 mammals, 1,300 birds and 190 reptiles. There is a pond where visitors can enjoy paddling a boat. The area is pleasant and shady, and is suitable for a picnic.

China Town Bangkok’s China Town is an old business center covering a large area around Yaowarat and Charoen Krung Roads. There are many small streets and alleys full of shops and vendors selling all types of goods. It has been the main center for trading by the Chinese since they were moved from their old site some 200 years ago. Nearby Phahurat or Indian market is one of the city’s renowned cloth centers.

Wat Trai Mit Located at the end of Yaowarat Road near the Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lam Phong), this temple is known for its famous golden Buddha image constructed during the Sukhothai Period. The beautiful image of solid gold is three metres high and weighs five and a half tons.

Suan Pakkad Palace Located on Si Ayutthaya Road near the Phayathai intersection, this used to be the residence of Princess Chumphot, one of Thailand’s leading art collectors. Five traditional Thai houses overlooking a beautifully kept garden display a large collection of Thai arts and antiques. It is open everyday except Sundays.

Jim Thompson’s Thai House This remarkable Thai-style house was the work of Mr. Jim Thompson, an American who came to Thailand at the end of the Second World War and revived the Thai silk industry. His house, now a museum, is at the end of Soi Kasemsan 2 opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Road. On permanent Display are Mr. Thompson’s collection of Asian artifacts and many other fabulous antiques.

Museum of Imagery Technology This is the first camera and photograph museum established in Thailand and Asia, which shares the same building with the Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University. Historic photographs and imaging equipment, as well as its technological evolution are on display. Modern photographic arts, techniques and printing technology are also exhibited. The museum is open only on Thursdays from 10.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.

Pasteur Institute or Snake Farm This interesting spot is located at the corner of Henri Dunant and Rama IV Roads west of Chulalongkorn Hospital. It is a section of the Thai Red Cross, where one can have cholera, smallpox, and typhoid inoculations, as well as rabies treatment. The institute has become a popular tourist attraction because of its large collection of live poisonous snakes. It is open from 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. on weekdays and 8.30 a.m.-12.00 a.m. on holidays. The extraction of venom from the snakes is demonstrated at 10.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. on weekdays, and at 10.30 a.m. on holidays.

Erawan Shrine Located on Ratchadamri Road, this shrine of Hindu God is very revered by many people who come to pay homage and beg for blessings. Laced flowers and small wooden elephants as well as Thai dancing performances are offered to the statue by grateful devotees.


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