Bangkok is Thailand’s capital and one of the world’s most stunning cities. It’s located on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River (which means River of Kings). This river spreads itself through the city and flows into the Gulf of Thailand.

The name

Thai people actually don’t recognize the city by the name of Bangkok, rather Krung Thep or City of Angels. These last two come from the city’s ceremonial name, which can be found in Pali and Sanskrit, two ancient Indian languages. When translated into English, it goes like this: The city of angels, the great city, the city that is an everlasting gemstone, the unshakable city of god Indra, the world’s greater capital, ornamented with nine precious gems, the joyous city, the enormous and abundant Royal Palace, one that resembles the celestial location in which the reincarnated god reigns, a city gifted by Indra and built by Vishnukam.

According to the Guinness Book, it’s the world’s longest city name! It’s totally comprehensible the need for shorter designations. The ceremonial name is used only on special occasions. Actually, it’s more than just a simple name, given how much it says about the city’s history.

As for the international name of Bangkok, its origin probably has something to do with the designation that was given to the place where it was built, Bang Kok. This means village of plum trees. As time moved on, this name was dropped by Thais, but has been kept by the international community.

Foundation of the City

Initially, Bangkok was a small village located on the bank of Chao Phraya River. Back then, it was used as a harboring city for ships heading towards Ayutthaya, the kingdom’s capital and homonyms city. And so it exponentially increased its reputation.

After the Burmese loot of Ayutthaya, the kingdom’s capital moved to Thonburi. After a while, it shifted to Bangkok. The decision to change from one of the river’s bank to the other (from Thonburi to Bangkok) was taken in order to hamper the access of the Burmese, who used Thonburi’s flank for their invasions.

With this, on April 21 of 1782, the city of Bangkok was founded. The Grand Royal Palace started to be built in the very same year, which is a vast complex made of buildings and temples. Throughout the wide array of years that kings inhabited this palace, they carried out several overhauls, each one using different styles

It kept growing with time, given the intense trade established with China and some European nations, reaching its current status of a modern city. Currently is a metropolis with about 10 million inhabitants and two distinct areas. An old city filled with palaces and ancient and colorful gold temples, as well as a more contemporaneous one, with hotels, offices and shopping areas.

My opinion

Don’t miss the opportunity to get familiar with both sides of it, even if you prefer one over the other.

This is a fascinating culture and a very interesting one to visit. In my opinion, a visit must include a boat tour through the city’s canals, a visit to the Royal Palace and the Emerald Buddha Temple, to the floating market and to its most commercial area, particularly on Khao San Road.

Don’t overlook the chance to properly know the wonderful Thai cuisine and get at least one massage. They are awesome and super cheap!

There’s plenty to do in Bangkok, the village of plum trees…