Love it or hate it, Bangkok is one of those cities that is either loved or hated. It can be overwhelming initially but persistence brings rewards and spending time exploring its avenues and alleyways can be a fascinating experience.
Those who hate it will tick off its long list of problems: Its size, the crowds (population currently at 9.5 million), it's dirt, the pollution, its heat and humidity, and the constant construction projects.
People who love Bangkok will say that it's hard to find another city with as much to see, do and enjoy. Indeed, according to a travel and leisure magazine survey, it was voted the best city in the world for three years running in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The Roots of Bangkok
Bangkok was established as the Thai capital after the sacking of Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767. The city is located along the Chao Phraya River and is the second-largest city in Southeast Asia (after Jakarta).
It's regarded as Asia’s best example of a primate city (one that politically, culturally and economically dominates the rest of the country) It generates 40 per cent of the kingdom’s wealth and is home to more doctors, university graduates and cars than the rest of the country combined.
Its residents are called Bangkokians and refer to their city as Krungthep. ('City of Angels') They like to party and there are plenty of festivals, holidays and personal celebrations to keep them going.
Greater Bangkok is located at the heart of the urbanised triangle of central and eastern Thailand. Most of Thailand’s factories lie north and south of the city. With wages in Bangkok being 12 times higher than those in the Northeast it is no surprise that one out of every six Thais works there is from the Northeast.
In recent years Bangkok has become a gateway to south-east Asia. If you are going to be travelling extensively in Asia the chances are you will more than likely spend some time in Bangkok.
The city boasts over 400 Buddhist temples and colourful food markets. Interesting shops with silk and gems and the world's largest restaurant.
Monasteries offering massages and fortune-telling. Girly bars with sex shows and shrines and alms for monks. Markets with exotic animals, fake goods and looted artefacts. Facilities for kickboxing and classical dance.
The vast parks near the Grand Palace feature traditional Thai sports like kite fighting and Muay Thai. Crocodile farms with a snake milking show in the suburbs.
Boring factual stuff about Bangkok
- Bangkok's official name is... 'Krungthepmahanakhon-Amonrattanakosin-Mahintharayutthaya-Mahadilokphop- Noppharatratchathaniburirom-Udomratchaniwetmahasathan-Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit'. (Try saying after a few Changs) The word contains 167 letters and 40 syllables (a Guinness book record for a city name) and means 'The Great City, the Residence of the Emerald Buddha, the Grand Capital of the World Endowed with Nine Precious Gems, the Happy City.'
Have a wemooch elsewhere...
Thinking about a night in Bangkok? Get Thai'd! You're talking to a tourist whose every move is among the purest.
You'll need a few things to come together for it all to work out. There's some useful stuff to be clicked and pressed below.