Bangkok, the capital of Thailand
Guide to your holidays in the “Venice of Asia”
Called Krung Thep in Thai (City of Angels) and also called the Venice of Asia for its beauty and its waterways, Bangkok is certainly one of the most fascinating and intriguing city of Asia. It is therefore no accident that in 2010 and 2014 Bangkok won the World’s Best Award for the best city in the world. Before becoming the capital of Thailand in 1782, Bangkok was a small fishing village on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and why he lived mainly in river trade. The majestic river, currently crossed by magnificent bridges, divides the great “City of Angels”, as Thais call the capital, in two parts. The west is the quiet Thonburi, while the other in the east, has become the Bangkok bustling, chaotic, constantly changing that is the real soul of modern Thai capital.
Bangkok is not only administratively, but also culturally the true centre of Thailand. In Bangkok you will meet all kinds of people and run into local business very much different from each other: night life more or less transgressive, ultra-modern shopping centres, art galleries, museums, dealers, etc. In the background, the age-old tradition can be seen in its Thai Buddhist temples, the architecture of the old town, in the markets of local products. Who will learn about Bangkok and its people will enjoy then a wonderful synthesis of all shades that paint the beautiful Thailand. Bangkok is a city to discover and expresses the current Thai spirit, blending the old and the new, the old traditions and rhythms of an ultra-modern city.
History of Bangkok
The city formerly called Bang Makok was a small shopping centre that served the city of Ayutthaya , the ancient capital of Siam. When Ayutthaya fell to Burma in 1767, the new King Taksin established a capital in Thonburi district of Bangkok on the west bank of the Chao Praya.In 1782, King Rama I realized that the strategic location of Bangkok, located on the banks of the river, would guarantee greater security to the capital as well as trade facilitation. And so it happened: become capital, Bangkok was never violated by any invading people and the city flourished economically. In later years the King Rama I decided to develop the city centre and to beautify the city architecturally, by building the sumptuous Royal Palace . Later, he gave the name of Rattanakosin, ‘the jewel city’, referring to the Emerald Buddha, one of the most important Buddhists statues now kept in the temple Wat Phra Kaew. In Bangkok over to the Royal Family, resident about a sixth of the population are over 500 Thai and Buddhist temples.
The tourist areas of Bangkok
The City of Angels, with its 15 million inhabitants, is divided into many neighbourhoods and suburbs. Here we remember those of tourist interest.
The old Bangkok area is enclosed in a bend of the river Chao Phaya, here are the older buildings, like the Grand Palace or the Royal Palace and other important temples.
Siam Square is the main commercial hub, the main shopping area across Bangkok. Here are concentrated numerous department stores, markets and shops, where you can find almost everything from traditional Thai crafts, to clothing designer labels, from luxury watches to the latest articles of electronics (smart phones, PCs, machines cameras, etc.), but with a wide choice, much higher than in Europe.
Silom Road is the business district of Bangkok because there are major banks, the offices of several holding International and some of the best hotels.
The Sukhumvit Road is an area of recent expansion, which focuses many malls, shops, nightclubs and restaurants created to offer services to foreigners living in Bangkok and to the tourists who visit it during the holidays.
Patpong , one of the neighbourhoods in “Red Light” of Bangkok, here you can find bars, pubs, numerous restaurants, nightclubs, Go Go Bar and a night market that from 19 to 24 and sells fashionable clothes.
The popular district of Chinatown or Yaowarat for Thais is a branch of China in Bangkok. The entire district, which alone has about 3,000,000 people, mostly Chinese and Indian, is a bustling marketplace from dawn to night. It is selling everything from stalls and restaurants offering all kinds of products. Although not easy to visit, if not fully familiar with all its areas, the Chinatown of Thailand is certainly a picturesque part of Bangkok that is well worth a visit.
Bangkok, the city’s shopping
Whatever you wish to Bangkok you’ll find it! Shopping reflects the way of being in the city, it is possible to make purchases everywhere: in one of his lavish shopping centres, or buy items at low cost in one of the thousands of stalls are located along the streets of the centre, or even in the multiple open-air markets. The main shopping centres in Bangkok are in the area of Siam Square, stands out among all the Siam Paragon, which is worth visiting for its grandeur and its splendour (consider that in it you can buy car Lamborghini or Ferrari !); Emporium, instead is located in Sukhumvit. Other must-see shopping malls, real shopping references in Asia, are the MBK (National Stadium Sky Train stop), Central World and Platinum. Among the markets, however, remember to Pratunam (especially for clothing), the evening of Silom and Lumpini Park Night Bazaar. The weekend is a must visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market or (stop Mo Chit Sky Train).
Taxi e tuk tuk
For travel during your vacation in Bangkok use only taxis with the sign “taxi meter”, they do not discount, but they are safe and economical. Thailand is mandatory for taxis display inside the vehicle license and in addition means is numbered. In case of problems write down the license number or the number of the taxi and then contact the Tourist Police. Keep in mind that the staff of this police speaks English and has the task of protecting tourists from possible scams. Beware of tuk tuk (Sidecars), if you want to try them take them in the evening, when traffic decreases, or you could take a deep breath all the smog of the capital.
Market Amulets Bangkok
A few hundred meters of the behind the Royal Palace, you’ll come across a stretch of road where they sell amulets, coins and miniatures: they call it the Market of amulets. In this regard, you will notice that very often in Thialandia there is a real culture for pendants and jewellery ‘magical’ and ‘protection’, the people are very superstitious and they attribute to these objects beneficial powers.
Wellness, Spa and Thai Massage
Among all the possible things to do and places to visit, one thing that you must try during your vacation in Bangkok is the Thai spa treatment . Choose one of the many massage centres of the city, and with a few Euro you can enjoy two hours of pure relaxation. There is nothing better than a traditional Thai massage after a day of shopping and frantic movements in the city!
Night-life in Bangkok: the best places
With its 15 million inhabitants, the night life of Bangkok is by far the most varied, funny and if you want transgressive across Asia. In Bangkok, the most chic and elegant rooms are located in the Sukumvit Road. Also in Sukhumvit it is the Narz, another local very fashionable. On the World Trade Centre it is instead Lo Spasso, a disco-pub located inside Erawan hotel. If you wish to make more spicy your holidays in Bangkok, in the Sukhumvit you will run into Nana Plaza, an area full of bars, go-go bars and red light. In the Silom area stands one of the most beautiful in Thailand Sky Bar, which is located on the sixty-fifth floor of a skyscraper with panoramic views over the city. This area is located on the famous red light district of Pat Pong . In the area of Siam Square instead we point out two other rooms frequented: the disco inside the Sofitel and the Hard Rock Café. A Khaosan Road instead concentrates the largest number of local alternative for students, with the cheapest prices in the city: good example are the Lava Club and the Gazebo. If you want to get out of the beaten track tour and see how they entertain the young Thais, then take a ride in the area called RCA (in Ratchadaphisek Road) between numerous nightclubs, pubs, bars and restaurants.
Places of art and culture: Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn
Wat Arun was built on the site of Wat Jang, dating from the seventeenth century. The original building served as a residence and royal temple for the King Taksin the time when Thonburi was the capital of the kingdom. The site was also the last home of the Emerald Buddha (actually Jade) before the King Rama I transferred it in the Wat Phra Kaeo. To admire in particular are its pagodas spire, decorated with multi-coloured fine ceramics that reflect light during sunrise and sunset. Surrounded by four pagodas, the temple is very impressive with its towers decorated with beautiful mosaics of porcelain polychrome Chinese. We should visit the complex at sunset, when the sunlight is reflected on the mosaics enlightening as jewellery.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is inside the Wat Phra Kaeo. It is accessed through the huge gates, once overstepped by elephants carrying the king in his palace. The building was built by King Rama I, the founder of the Chakri dynasty, in 1782. The Grand Palace, designed by a British architect in the classical style of the Italian Renaissance, with a roof in Thai style, is mainly used for the most important official ceremonies and religious. The current royal residence is in fact theChitlada Palace, in the northern part of the city, and therefore not accessible to the public.
Wat Pho Temple of the Reclining Buddha
This temple is the oldest and most majestic in Bangkok, and houses inside the largest statue of the Reclining Buddha, as well as an extensive collection of images of deities throughout the country. Known as a place of worship, the Wat Pho dates back to the sixteenth century, but its current history begins in 1781 with the complete reconstruction of the original monastery. Wat Pho is the national centre responsible for the teaching and preservation of ancient Thai traditional medicine, among whom were the techniques of therapeutic massage.
Wat tramit, Temple of the Golden Buddha
If you stop in Bangkok for a few days it is also worth visiting the famous Golden Buddha in Wat Traimit south of Chinatown. The Golden Buddha largest in the world dating back to the thirteenth century, is 4 meters high and weighs about 5.5 tons of solid gold. According to legend, the statue fell and during the restoration work that was discovered under its crust of stucco was entirely of gold.
Khosan Road district
On the border between the modern centre and the old city of Bangkok, it is the Democracy Monument.Near to this monument develops the area of Khao San Road, a favourite with tourists western backpackers, due to the presence of a multitude small and cheap hotels. Despite this, the district of Khao San Road is very nice especially at sunset. If you have a chance, give us a ride, dine on the street and explore the streets, especially neighbouring ones that line an ancient temple, you’ll be surprised.
Modern, sophisticated and lively Sukhumvit Road offers an alternative to the old Bangkok. Sukhumvit is the longest street in Bangkok and there are restaurants, bars, luxury hotels and trendy nightclubs that give the area a modern spirit and cosmopolitan. The street is also one of the most outrageous of the city, with the red-light districts of Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy. The elevated subway, the Skytrain – BTS , extends along most of Sukhumvit and is therefore the best way to move in this long way especially during peak hours.
The Pratunam district is one of the most colourful and chaotic Bangkok, famous for its designer shops and markets clothing. Pratunam offers very competitive prices for all kinds of apparel, clothing, fashion accessories, footwear, handbags, luggage, etc. In particular, do not hesitate to enter the narrow alleys of the market because that is where they make the best deals! And if the open market does not satisfy you, head to the nearby Platinum Fashion Mall, the Indra Square or Plaza Phantip: certainly find what you were looking for. In Pratunam there is also a department store called Panthip Plaza, a shopping mall with 5 floors that will go crazy electronics enthusiasts. Inside it you can buy computers and accessories, software, books, video games, smart phones and cameras.
Ayutthaya – The ancient capital of Thailand
From Bangkok you can easily reach the town of Ayuthaya, the old capital of Siam, an historic city rich in temples and ancient ruins that worth a visit. Ayutthaya is declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the city was built on a small island, at the junction of three rivers: the Lopburi, the Prasak and the Chao Phraya River. The ancient capital was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong King of the Kingdom of Siam. During its 417 years of the kingdom it was ruled by kings good 33 who managed to repel as many as 23 raids of Burma, but during the last of these, the city capitulated and was sacked.
Kanchanaburi is both the name of a Thai village and of the entire region which is the capital. Located about 128 km from Bangkok, the area is a tourist destination for both Thais (especially during weekends) and for foreign tourists, thanks to its many natural beauties: rivers, waterfalls, lakes, meadows, hills and temples surrounded by nature. While the Kanchanaburi province is home to most of the national parks in Thailand’s the city it is ideal for relaxation and maybe read a good book while drinking a cold drink with your feet in the river. Some of the most popular attractions of the area are the temple where Buddhist monks live together with tigers, the River Kwai (made famous by the film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’), the binary of death, the wonderful waterfalls of Erawan and Sai Yok Noi and Sai Yok Yai and finally the hike on the backs of elephants in the jungle.
Khao Yai National Park
The Khao Yai National Park is the first to be established in Thailand, and in 1982 was listed as world heritage sites by ASEAN, thanks to the variety and uniqueness of its flora and fauna. The Park was also named World Heritage site by UNESCO World. Khao Yai National Park is the third largest in Thailand, covering an area of 2,165.55 km 2 and has a peak, Khao Rom, which reaches 1351 m. Khao Yai is part of Dongrak Range, a major mountain range. The park is located about 200 km north-east of Bangkok and extends along a 4 provinces: Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Ratchasima and Prachinburi. If your holidays in Bangkok permit, think about a short tour adventure in the Thai nature. Within Khao Yai you can admire over 3,000 plant species, 300 bird species and 68 mammal species, including the Asiatic black bear, the Asian elephant, tigers, gibbons and wild pigs. There are also many waterfalls, the most famous of those Heo Narok and Haeo Suwat. The latter made famous by the movie “The Beach”, starring Leonardo di Caprio. The falls are one of Khao Yai scenery not to be missed especially during the months of June, July, August when the rivers are in flood.