Bangkok and Surrounds

Bangkok is the capital and the most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over eight million, or 12.6 percent of the population of the country.

Over fourteen million people (22.2 percent) live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, dwarfing other urban centres in Thailand in terms of importance.

Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew in size and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782.

Bangkok was at the heart of the modernization of Siam (as Thailand used to be known) during the later nineteenth century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was the centre stage of political struggles throughout the twentieth century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy and underwent numerous coups and uprisings. The city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact among Thailands politics, economy, education, media and modern society.

The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational corporations to locate their regional headquarters in Bangkok. The city is now a major regional force in finance and business. It is an international hub for transport and health care, and is emerging as a regional centre for the arts, fashion and entertainment. The vibrant street of the city life and cultural landmarks, as well as its notorious red-light districts, have given it an exotic appeal. The historic Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho stand in contrast with other tourist attractions such as the nightlife scenes of Khaosan Road and Patpong. Bangkok is among the worlds top tourist destinations. It is ranked third after London and Paris in MasterCards Global Destination Cities Index, and has been named "Worlds Best City" for three consecutive years by Travel + Leisure magazine.

The rapid growth of Bangkok amidst little urban planning and regulation has resulted in a haphazard cityscape and inadequate infrastructure systems. Limited roads, despite an extensive expressway network, together with substantial private car usage, have resulted in chronic and crippling traffic congestion. This in turn caused severe air pollution in the 1990s. The city has since turned to public transport in an attempt to solve this major problem. Four rapid transit lines are now in operation, with more systems under construction or planned by the national government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

Cultural phenomenon, shopping heaven and tourist treasure. Welcome to Bangkok; one of the most cosmopolitan, contrasting and, above all, compelling of Asian cities. A steamy, pulsating, yet smiling metropolis of more than ten million – intense at first, but addictive as anything. Come find your niche among dazzling temples, hotels of every breed and size, eclectic markets, gleaming palaces, ritzy shopping malls, a famous nightlife and the many things in between.

Enjoy a memorable dinner cruise adrift the Chao Phraya River. Bask in the warm, affluent glow at a skyscraping rooftop bar overlooking the city. Experience all the things – tuk-tuk ride, ladyboy show, Muay Thai (kickboxing) match, Thai massage – everyone always comes home talking about.