OverviewBecause of its strategic location in Southeast Asia, Siam (later Thailand) acted as a buffer-zone between the French and British colonial empires. Bangkok itself has gained a reputation as an independent, dynamic and influential city. Bangkok is the political, social and economic center of Thailand, and one of the leading cities in Southeast Asia.
Due to the 1980s and 1990s Asian investment boom, many multinational corporations make their regional headquarters in Bangkok and the city is a regional force in finance and business. Its increasing influence on global politics, culture, fashion and entertainment underlines its status as an Alpha global city. In 2009, it was the second most expensive city in South-East Asia behind Singapore.
The city's many cultural landmarks and attractions in addition to its nightlife venues has made it synonymous with exoticism. Its rapid modernization, reflected in the cityscape and the urban society, has left untouched the historic Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Vimanmek Palace Complex, hundreds of Buddhist temples, and the city's illegal (but tolerated) red-light districts draw about 10 million international visitors each year, second only to London.
Bangkok has an official population of 9,100,000 residents, while the greater Bangkok area continues some 11,971,000 (January 2008). The capital is in a heavily urbanized triangle of central and eastern Thailand, which stretches from Nakhon Ratchasima to the heavily Industrialized Eastern Seaboard. Bangkok borders five other provinces: Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon and Nakhon Pathom, and all five provinces are joined in the conurbation of the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. It is served by two international airports, Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport, four rapid transit lines operated by the BTS, MRT, and the SRT, with plans to add additional lines by 2020.
HistoryThai: บางกอก (listen) (help·info)) began as a small trading center and port community on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River before the establishment of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, the precursor of modern Thailand, which existed from 1350 to 1767. The etymology of the town's name is unclear. Bang is the Central Thai name for a town situated on the bank of a river. It is believed that "Bangkok" derived from either Bangkok, kok (กอก) being the Thai name for the Java plum (ma-kok, มะกอก), one of several trees bearing olive-like fruits); or Bang Koh, koh meaning "island," a reference to the area's landscape which was carved by rivers and canals.
After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese Kingdom in 1767, the newly declared King Taksin established a new capital in the area of the then Bangkok, which became known as Thonburi. When Taksin's reign ended in 1782, King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke reconstructed the capital on the east bank of the river and gave the city a ceremonial name (see below) which became shortened to its current official name, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. The new city, however, also inherited the name Bangkok, which continued to be used by foreigners to refer to the entire city and became its official English name, while in Thai the name still refers only to the old district on the west bank of the river. The city has since vastly modernized and undergone numerous changes, including the introduction of transportation and utility infrastructure in the reigns of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn, and quickly developed into the economic center of Thailand.
Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit (Thai: กรุงเทพ มหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุทธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์ (listen) (help·info)).
This ceremonial name uses two ancient Indian languages, Pāli and Sanskrit, initiated with the only original Thai word Krung which means "capital". According to the romanisation of these languages, it can actually be written as Krung-dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrāyudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīramya uttamarājanivēsana mahāsthāna amaravimāna avatārasthitya shakrasdattiya vishnukarmaprasiddhi (listen) (help·info). It translates to "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarma".
Local school children are taught the full name, although few can explain its meaning because many of the words are archaic, and unknown to all but a few. Most Thais who do recall the full name do so as a result of its use in a popular song, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (1989) by Asanee-Wasan Chotikul and will often recount it by recalling the song at the same time, much as English speakers might sing the alphabet song while reciting the English alphabet.
The full name of the city is listed by Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest place name.
AdministrationThailand, the other being Pattaya, in which citizens vote to choose their governor, unlike in Thailand's 77 provinces (changwat). In the 2009 gubernatorial election, M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra was elected governor.
The urban sprawl of the greater Bangkok Metropolitan Area extends beyond the borders of Bangkok province, spilling into the neighbouring provinces of Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon. The province as it is today was created in 1971 when the previous Bangkok province, changwat Phra Nakhon, merged with Thonburi province.
Bangkok is subdivided into 50 districts (khet, also sometimes called amphoe in the other provinces), which are further subdivided into 169 kwaeng (แขวง, equivalent to tambon in other provinces). Each district is managed by a district chief appointed by the governor. District councils, elected to four-year terms, serve as advisory bodies to their respective district chiefs.
There is also an elected Bangkok Metropolitan Council, which has power over municipal ordinances and the city's budget. The last elections for local councils in Bangkok were held on 23 July 2006. The government of Bangkok is called the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration or the BMA.
The seal of the city shows the god Indra riding in the clouds on Erawan, a mythological elephant-shaped creature. In his hand Indra holds a lightning bolt, which is his weapon to drive away drought. The seal is based on a painting done by Prince Naris. The tree symbol of Bangkok is Ficus benjamina.
Topography and climate
|Climate chart (explanation)|
above sea level, which causes problems for the protection of the city against floods during the monsoon season. Occasionally after a downpour, water in canals and the river overflows the banks, resulting in floods in some areas. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has recently installed higher banks alongside some canals to keep water levels from reaching street level. There are however some downsides for Bangkok's extensive canal routes, as the city is rumored to be sinking an average of two inches a year as it lies entirely on a swamp.
Bangkok has a tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen climate classification system. Average temperatures in the city are about 2 °C (3.6 °F) higher than the ones shown for the Don Mueang Airport during the 1960–1990 period. The highest recorded maximum temperature is 40.8 °C (105.4 °F) in May 1983 and the lowest recorded minimum temperature is 9.9 °C (49.8 °F) in January 1955. The coldest temperatures were recorded in January 1924, January 1955, January 1974 and December 1999. The hottest year on record was 1997 (average yearly at Don Mueang 30.0 °C) and the coldest was 1975 (average yearly at Don Mueang 26.3 °C). The coldest daytime maximum temperature was 19.9 °C (68 °F), recorded in December 1992.
|[hide]Climate data for Bangkok (1961-1990)|
|Average high °C (°F)||32.0 |
|Average low °C (°F)||21.0 |
|Rainfall mm (inches)||9.1 |
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 1 mm)||1||3||3||6||16||16||18||20||21||17||6||1||128|
|Source no. 1: Thai Meteorological Department|
|Source no. 2: Hong Kong Observatory |
DistrictsBangkok Metropolitan Administration. These are further subdivided into 169 khwaeng (แขวง), roughly equivalent to sub-districts tambon in the other provinces.
 This does not include hundreds of new buildings predicted as part of the construction boom in 2007 and the coming years. Areas such as Silom-Sathon and Asok have for decades been Thailand's business center. From 1985 to 1996, Thailand experienced the world's highest growth rates and underwent an economic transformation, Bangkok went through dramatic changes. The Ratchadaphisek area was turned into a business district which continued through the Asok area up north for five kilometers (3 mi). The Sukhumvit area, stretching 15–20 km (9–12 mi), gradually turned into a mixed commercial and residential area. Wireless Road and Chitlom are where some of Bangkok's most expensive land plots exist. Part of the British Embassy on the corner of Wireless and Rama I Roads, nine rai or approximately 14,400 m2 (155,000 sq ft) in area, was sold for USD 92 million or THB 3.24 billion.
Silom, Bangrak, Pinklao, Sathon, Phra Ram 2, Phetchaburi, Phra Nakhon, Pathumwan, Chatuchak (new central business district), and Phra Ram 3 (new financial center).
Bangkok's Phra Nakhon district alongside Dusit is where most governmental agencies and ministries have their offices. Most of the well-known tourist attractions are also in this particular area due its cultural & historical heritage. This part of Bangkok is perhaps the most popular for tourists as most notable attractions such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the Democracy Monument, the Giant Swing, Sanam Luang and other venues are located here. Thon Buri also has its fair share of historic monuments mainly located near the river, such as Wat Arun. The Victory Monument in Bangkok is one of the city's biggest bus destinations. Although not officially a bus depot, its location in the center of city transits as many as 20 bus lines as well as a BTS Skytrain station. Starting from Victory Monument, Phahonyothin road early sois are occupied by ministries, government agencies, commercial buildings as well as upper-middle class residential areas. Further to the north, after the Lat Phrao/Phahonyothin intersection, the Northern Corridor is an expanding business district, where the famous Elephant Building can be found.
Bangkok's north and eastern areas are primarily residential areas for middle class residents of Bangkok. Whereas the inner city often has small apartments and low rises for poor immigrants, Lat Phrao and Si Nakharin offer residential compounds and townhouses. The two areas cover as much as 100 km2 (40 sq mi) to 150 km2 (60 sq mi) each, and have turned into what is now part of Bangkok as more suburban housing developments sprawl further out to the east and north. The west of Bangkok in Thon Buri is another growing area, approaching the degree of development experienced by the north and east. Suvarnabhumi Airport in the east is seen as a jump start for the eastern expansion of Bangkok as Don Mueang was for the north.
Ratchaprasong is at the forefront of Bangkok's shopping scene. The newly renovated Central World Plaza intends to serve as a square to Bangkokians. Just up the street is Siam Square, similar to Shinjuku in Tokyo and Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus in London. The Sukhumvit area also serves as a shopping district for foreigners. The popular Chatuchak Weekend Market in the north of the city is where many people head for cheap, used and high quality products.
Bangkok's poorest districts are spread throughout the city. However, the most concentrated area is just north of the Port of Bangkok at the turn of the Chao Phraya River. For an area of 10 square kilometres (4 sq mi), the Khlong Toei district houses one of the poorest areas in the country with half-built houses and midrises for immigrants and workers from the northeast Isan provinces.
Green zones and major parks
Bangkok is known for its large green sections within the city centre, including the large forest park between Yannawa and Samut Prakan. This part of the city covers an area of over 50 km2 (19 sq mi). and is intended to buffer the CBD from the large industries of the west and south of Metropolitan Bangkok. Other areas include Bung Makkasan, an urban city buffer for residences, sections of many major roads which have unbuilt swamps and green fields. Some of these areas are intentionally undeveloped for protecting against urbanization, while others are land lost during the Asian Financial Crisis.
Lumphini Park is regionally famous. Renowned as Bangkok's Central Park, it was built in the early 1920s by Rama VI with this intent. It has since been used to hold grand pageants, ceremonies of the Thai constitution, and was a camp for Japanese soldiers during World War II. On Sundays, the western gates are open for runners to run on to Silom Road. The park is normally closed at night due to the incidences of vandalism, robberies and murders reported. Chatuchak Park and Rama IX Park are two of Bangkok's largest parks. The two, built in the past 50 years cater to Bangkok's suburban population, include botanic gardens, sports clubs and complexes, English/French/Japanese gardens and parks as well as large ponds and lakes. Other famous parks include Queen Sirikit Park near Lat Yao, Benchasiri Park on Sukhumvit Rd, Saranrom Park across the Grand Palace, Sanam Luang, Suan Romaneenat, and Dusit Park.
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The Stock Exchange of Thailand, or the SET is located on Ratchadaphisek Road in inner-Bangkok with over 523 listed companies and combined market capitalization of about THB 6 trillion (USD 197 billion) as of 31 January 2007. Due to the large amount of foreign representation, Thailand has for several years been a mainstay of the Southeast Asian economy and a key center in Asian business. The indices of the stock exchange are SET Index, SET50 Index and SET100 Index. As of Fall 2009, the index is one of Asia's top performing indices, up 58 percent since January.
Bangkok is home to the headquarters of all of Thailand's major commercial banks and financial institutions; 27 financial institutions and a number of international banks located in Bangkok include ABN AMRO, ANZ, Bank of America, Bank of Baroda, Bank of China, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, CIMB, Citigroup, DBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Barclays, Indian Overseas Bank, UBS, Credit Suisse, OCBC Bank, Mizuho Corporate Bank, Calyon, RBS, RHB Bank, Macquarie Group, ING Bank, Scotia Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, United Overseas Bank, BNP Paribas, Wells Fargo Bank and Standard Chartered. hold at least 1 billion dollars in total assets. Their bank deposits totaled approximately THB 9.6 trillion, the equivalent of USD 314 billion at the end of the third quarter in 2007. A large number of multinational corporations base their regional headquarters in Bangkok due to the lower cost of the workforce and firm operations relative to other major Asian business centers. Thirteen Bangkok-based companies make the Forbes 2000 list annually. The list includes the largest Thai bank, Bangkok Bank, the country's largest listing as well as the state-owned energy firm PTT, and the renowned Charoen-Phokphand agri-foods conglomerate.
The market for flights to enter Laos and Cambodia is heavily dominated by airlines based in Bangkok such as THAI Airways International, Bangkok Airways, and the multitude of low cost airlines in Thailand. Telecommunications, retail, real estate, airlines, and media conglomerates mainly cater to the country's growing population, however, few Thai corporations venture overseas and gain notoriety.
Tourism is a significant contributor to Thailand's economy, providing about 5 percent of GDP. Bangkok is Thailand's principal international gateway and a destination in its own right. This giant market has made Bangkok a prime location for hotel operations as well as the launching pad for small and medium accommodation enterprises. Moreover, Bangkok-based hospitality companies such as Dusit Thani Group, Erawan Group, and Siam Hotels and Resorts, have all expanded operations and can officially be classified as a multinational corporation in its own right.
Income inequality is a growing issue in Bangkok, especially between relatively unskilled lower-income immigrants from rural provinces in Thailand and neighboring countries and middle-class professionals (45% of registered residents), business elites, and retired and working foreign expats. About 7 percent of Bangkok's population (excluding illegal immigrants who constitute about 5–8 percent of population) live below the poverty line compared to the national average of 9 percent.
DemographicsThe 2005 statistics report by the BMA Data Center notes a registered population of 5,658,953. However, this figure does not take into account the many unregistered residents. Most of the city’s population are ethnic Thais. The Chinese are by far the largest minority. Recently, Bangkok has experienced a large influx of foreign immigrants, long-term residents, and expatriates. Long-term foreign residents include 250,000 mainland Chinese, 85,000 Indians (most of whom are Sikh), of whom more than 80% have dual Thai citizenship, 44,000 Japanese, 25,000 Americans, 45,000 Europeans, 15,000 Taiwanese, 20,000 South Koreans, 6,000 Nigerians, 7,500 Australians, 12,000 people of Arabic speaking countries, 20,000 Malaysians, 4,000 Singaporeans, 5,000 Filipinos, and 800 New Zealanders. It is estimated that 5–10% of Bangkok's population is of Burmese (a large number of them are considered by Thai authority as illegal immigrants). A vast majority of the population, 92%, is Buddhist. The rest are Muslim (6%), Christian (1%), Hindu/Sikh (0.6%), Jewish (300 residents), and others. There are some 450 Buddhist temples, 170 mosques, 60 churches, 3 Hindu Temples, 3 synagogues, 1 Sikh gurdwara and 1 Jain temple in Bangkok.
River and canals networkAn elaborate network of canals known as khlongs gave Bangkok the nickname "Venice of the East" at a time when most transportation was by boat. Today, nearly all of the canals have been filled in and converted into streets. While many khlongs still exist with people living along them and markets often being operated along the banks, most are severely polluted. A notable khlong market is the floating market in Taling Chan district. Through downtown Bangkok runs the Khlong Saen Saeb, which has a canal boat service. The wide river Chao Phraya, flowing through the city, has several cross-river ferries and the Chao Phraya Express Boat with as many as thirty stops along the both banks extending as far as the northern suburb of Nonthaburi.
RoadsSeveral elevated highways, newly rebuilt intersections, and many partially finished road and rail projects dot the landscape around greater Bangkok, but have done little to overcome the notorious traffic jams on Bangkok's surface roads as private vehicle usage continues to outstrip infrastructure development.
Due to a large number of traffic jams in Bangkok, the elevated highway (Thai: ทางด่วน, RTGS: thang duan, "express way"), linking most road networks in Bangkok together, is another choice for the rush. However, tax is to be paid for utilizing the highway depending on size of the vehicle. This highway also leads to some outskirts of Bangkok including Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
Inner-City BusesA regular bus service is provided by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) and it operates throughout Bangkok as well as to adjoining provinces around the clock on certain routes. Public buses are plentiful and cheap, with a minimum fare of 7 baht to most destinations within metropolitan Bangkok. Air-conditioned buses have minimum and maximum fares of 11 and 24 baht, respectively. Air-conditioned micro-buses charge a flat fare of 25 baht all routes. A bus route map is available at bookshops.
|Bangkok Rapid Transit System|
|BTS Sukhumvit Line (extension under construction)|
|BTS Silom Line (extension under construction)|
|MRT Blue Line (extension under construction)|
|SRT Airport Link|
|MRT Purple Line (under construction)|
|SRT Light Red Line (under construction)|
|SRT Dark Red Line (planned)|
|MRT Pink Line (planned)|
|MRT Orange Line (planned)|
|MRT Yellow Line (planned)|
|MRT Grey Line (planned)|
|MRT Light Blue Line (planned)|
|BMA Chula-Siam Monorail (planned)|
|BMA Grand Square Monorail (planned)|
|BMA Ramkhamhaeng-Thonglor Monorail (planned)|
|BMA BMA2-Soi Yothin Monorail (planned)|
|BMA Bang Na-Suvarnabhumi LRT (planned)|
The MRT subway system opened for use in July 2004. The MRT connects the northern train station of Bang Sue to the Hua Lamphong central railway station near the city centre, while also going through the eastern part of Bangkok. It connects to the BTS system at BTS stations Mo Chit, Asok, and Sala Daeng.
A new high speed elevated railroad called the Suvarnabhumi Airport Link, links the city with the new Suvarnabhumi Airport. The announced opening date after facing many delays was finally set on August 23, 2010. The Airport Express railway and City line (commuter service) is operated by the State Railway of Thailand. It provides a 28.5 km (17.7 mi) link between the new airport and the City Air Terminal (CAT) at Makkasan where it connects with MRT Phetchaburi station and has another connection to the BTS at Phaya Thai. There are plans to extend the line to Don Mueang and Rangsit (SRT Dark Red Line), but again, this is very dependent on the political situation.
Plans have been approved for a further extension of the BTS Silom line from Wongwian Yai to Bang Wa (4.5 km/2.8 mi), Samrong to Samut Prakan (8 km/5.0 mi), Mo Chit to Saphan Mai (11.9 km/7.4 mi) and the National Stadium to Phran Nok (7.7 km/4.8 mi). This includes five underground stations in the Rattanakosin area. The State Railway of Thailand has also been given approval to complete the Dark Red and Light Green lines. Alongside, MRT has also begun construction on two new lines, the Purple line from Bang Yai to Bang Sue, and the Blue line from Hua Lampong to Bang Khae and Bang Sue to Tha Pra.
For intercity travel by train, most passengers begin their trips at Hua Lamphong at the southern end of the MRT. Here, trains connect Bangkok to Malaysia in the south, Chiang Mai to the north, and Nong Khai to the northeast and beyond to Laos.
When viewing the map, not all MRT and BTS lines stop at every station. Currently, the blue MRT line goes from Hua Lampong to Asok. The two BTS lines extend from Mo Chit to On Nut, and from National Stadium to Wongwian Yai. This line's final stop used to be Saphan Taksin station but has subsequently been extended across the Chao Phraya River to Wongwian Yai. Stations with BTS/MRT interchange are Mo Chit, Sala Daeng, and Asok.
|[hide]Bangkok rail transit system map (showing State Railway, BTS, MRT and SARL lines)|
Bus servicesVirtually all cities and provinces are easily reached by bus from Bangkok. For destinations in the southwest and the west, buses leave from the Southern Bus Terminal, west of the city in the Thonburi area. For destinations in the southeast, such as Pattaya, Ko Samet and Ko Chang, buses leave from the Eastern Bus Terminal at Ekkamai. For all destinations north and northeast, the Northern Bus Terminal is at Mo Chit. Bangkok's less accessible southern terminal was recently moved even farther out. Though Bangkok is well connected to other cities, getting to the bus terminals often are a challenge in themselves.
There are numerous companies that provide bus services within Bangkok Metropolitan Region. The main operator, Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, has a service area covering Bangkok and its suburban areas in the adjacent provinces of Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, and Samut Sakhon. It serves approximately 3 million passengers per day. The service hours are 05.00–23.00 hrs, except 24-hr night-owl service on some routes. In September 2005, BMTA owns a fleet of 3,579 buses—comprising 1,674 ordinary buses and 1,905 air-conditioned buses. In addition to BMTA-owned buses, there are 3,485 private-own contract buses, 1,113 contract minibuses, 2,161 side-street songthaews, and 5,519 vans. In total, there are 15,857 buses and vans over 427 routes across 8 zones.
Premier Metro Bus 7 Line
- Zone 1: North (Hubs: Rangsit, Bang Khen)
- Zone 2: Upper East (Hubs: Bang Kapi, Minburi)
- Zone 3: Lower East (Hubs: Samrong, Samut Prakan)
- Zone 4: South Central (Hubs: Khlong Toei)
- Zone 5: Southwest (Hubs: Dao Khanong, Phra Pradaeng)
- Zone 6: West (Hubs: Bang Khae, Thonburi)
- Zone 7: Northwest (Hubs: Nonthaburi, Pak Kret)
- Zone 8: Central (Hubs: Huai Khwang)
Airportsair transport hubs. In 2005, more than ninety airlines served Don Mueang International Airport (IATA: DMK; ICAO: VTBD). It was the 18th busiest airport in the world, second busiest in Asia by passenger volume, 15th busiest in the world and fourth busiest in Asia in international passenger volume. Don Mueang consistently ranked 19th in the world in cargo traffic, and seventh in the Asia-Pacific region. Don Mueang is considered to be one of the world's oldest international airports, its opening in March 1914 making it almost twenty years older than London Heathrow. It has three terminals and is located about 30 km (19 mi) north from the heart of Bangkok.
On 28 September 2006, Suvarnabhumi Airport (IATA: BKK; ICAO: VTBS), became Bangkok's official international airport, replacing Don Mueang. Pronounced Suwannaphum (RTGS), or loosely Su-wan-na-poom, the airport is located southeast of the city center in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan Province. The progress of Suvarnabhumi Airport dates back to the early 1970s when a large plot of land 8,000 acres (3,237 ha) (32 km²) was bought. A student uprising in October of the same year prevented further progress with the development when the military government of Thanom Kittikachorn was subsequently overthrown. After several military coups and the Asian financial crisis of 1997, construction finally began in 2002, after five years of clearing the site. The first flights landed in September 2006, shortly after another military coup. Its two parallel runways are connected by the five concourses of the main terminal building. The airport features a 132.2-metre (434 ft)-tall control tower, the tallest in Asia and one meter (3.2 ft) taller than Kuala Lumpur International Airport control tower. It is the tallest stand alone purpose built control tower in the world. Airports of Thailand Plc. (AoT) have announced another terminal to accommodate a further fifteen million passengers. This will be part of Phase 2 of the airport, which is expected to begin construction in three to five years. The main airline of Suvarnabhumi is Thai Airways International.
Much of the construction of Suvarnabhumi Airport took place during the premiership of Thaksin Shinawatra, who took personal responsibility for its timely completion. Despite a "ceremonial" opening on the planned date, construction was over a year late. Continuing controversy surrounds the quality of planning and construction; accusations include cracks in the runway, overheated buildings, a severe shortage of toilet facilities and lengthy passenger walks to departure gates. The fact that the airport is already overcrowded and near its maximum capacity less than a year after opening is another concern.
Don Mueang remains in use as a base of the Royal Thai Air Force. Most of the low-cost airlines now use the airport for domestic flights, in an effort to ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi, until the next terminal is opened.
- Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat
- Chao Phraya Express Boat
- Bangkok Noi Longtail Express Boat
- Sathon-Khlong Toei Express Boat
- Sathon-Wat Dao Khanong Express Boat
- Sathon-Samut Prakan Express Boat
- Khlong Phasi Charoen Express Boat (Under new testing)
- Khlong Lat Phrao Express Boat (Under new testing)
- Khlong Prem Prachakhon Express Boat (Under new testing)
- Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Express Boat (Under new testing)
- BTS or Bangkok Skytrain
- MRT or Bangkok Metro
- SRT or State Railway of Thailand
- BRT (Bangkok) or Bus Rapid Transit
- METROBUS or Premier Metro Bus
- BTS Links
- BMTA or Bangkok Bus
- Suvarnabhumi Airport Link
- SRT Lines (U/C, finish 2012)
- Chula-Siam Monorail (Planned)
- Bangkok City Tour Shuttle Bus
Three-wheeled open-air motorized taxis called tuk-tuks (auto rickshaws in other countries) are popular for shorter journeys.
Motorcycle taxis stands, called win motoesai (Thai: วินมอเตอร์ไซค์), are found all over the city. Motorcycle taxis usually accommodate one, or sometimes two, passengers, and typically only cover small local areas.
The fare for tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis is usually negotiable between passenger and driver, except for cases where an organised taxi rank is in operation, where prices to certain locations may be printed on a sign on display at the rank. When two passengers use a motorcycle taxi the fare is usually doubled, although no such increases apply to tuk-tuks.
EducationChulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, Mahidol University and Thammasat University are at the forefront of tertiary education. They are public universities and have been a foundation for young thinkers for nearly a century. Over the past few decades the general trend of pursuing a university degree has prompted the founding of new universities to meet the needs of the Thai students. Bangkok became not only a place where immigrants and provincial Thais go for job opportunities, but also for a chance to receive a university degree. Ramkhamhaeng University emerged in 1971 as the only open university. It has the highest enrolment of students compared with any other Thai university. Ramkhamhaeng was one of the Thai government's ways to deal with the rise in a demand for tertiary education. The demand for higher education has led to the founding of many other universities and colleges in the metropolitan area. Vocational/technical colleges are also on the rise. One of such is SAE Institute Bangkok (started in 2002). In recent years a large number of private institutions, primarily with Western ties and exchange programs, were established in the capital. The rise in the number of schools offering English teaching has raised the bar for many state-run institutions to compete with the standards set by private education.
Assumption University, Chulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, Mahidol University, Silpakorn University, Srinakharinwirot University, and Thammasat University rank among the nation's top universities. Bangkok also plays host to the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), built as an international co-operative institute between Asia-Pacific nations. There are also many Buddhist universities branching into the realm of religious studies in which Bangkok has taken a leading role.
Amidst all this, however, the tertiary education scene in Bangkok is still over-populated with non-Bangkokians. Officials currently stress the need for a revamping of the Thai educational system. Education has long been a prime factor in the centralization of Bangkok and will play a vital role in the government's efforts to decentralize the country.
Health care and medical centerstertiary care centers, receiving referrals from distant parts of the country. Lately, especially in the private sector, there has been much growth in medical tourism, with many hospitals providing services specifically catering to foreigners.
The Bumrungrad Hospital is the main international class hospital on Sukumvit Road, and is popular with expats, wealthy Thais and medical tourists. Its closest competitors are Samithivej Hospitaland and Bangkok Hospital Medical Center. All 3 of which have achieved accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI).
TourismThailand's major tourist gateway, which means that the majority of foreign tourists arrive in Bangkok. The city boasts some of the country's most visited historical venues such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. There are numerous projects to maintain Bangkok's historic sites in the Rattanakosin area and river districts.
Life in Thailand
Festivals and eventsBangkok Songkran Festival 13–15 April The traditional Thai New Year is an occasion for merriment all over the city, but most notably at Sanam Luang, near the Grand Palace, where the revered Phra Phuttha Sihing image is displayed and bathed by devotees. In the Wisutkasat area, a Miss Songkran beauty contest is held and accompanied by merit-making and entertainment. Khao San Road, Bang Lamphu area is also one of the high-spots in the city where locals and tourists play water by the water-throwing activities.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony May
An ancient Brahman ritual, conducted at Sanam Luang, in which farmers believe, is able to forecast the abundance of the next rice crop. The event is a result of a series of ceremonies that are conducted by Phraya Raek Na, portrayed by a high-ranking official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives who wears colourful traditional costumes. This ceremony was re-introduced in 1960 by King Bhumibol Adulyadej and is considered the official commencement of the rice-growing season.
The Queen’s Birthday Celebration 12 August
To display their loyalty and to honour Queen Sirikit on the occasion of her royal birthday, the Thai people decorate their houses and public buildings. Around Bangkok, Ratchadamnoen Avenue, the area around the Grand Palace and other well-known locations are bedecked with coloured lights and magnificent adornments.
Trooping of the Colours December
The King and Queen preside over this impressive annual event, held in the Royal Plaza near the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn. Dressed in colourful uniforms, amid much pomp and ceremony, members of the elite Royal Guards swear allegiance to the King and march past members of the Royal Family.
The King’s Birthday Celebrations 5 December
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch is well beloved and deeply respected by all Thais old and young. The occasion of his royal birthday provides his loyal subjects the opportunity to express their reverence for him. All over the country, buildings and homes are elaborated and the area around the Grand Palace is spectacularly illuminated.
MediaThai Rath, sells over a million copies a day. Bangkok also has two major English-language dailies, the Bangkok Post and The Nation and the new free-sheet, The Daily Xpress. The Asian Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune are printed in Bangkok and have high distribution numbers. There are also a number of weekly publications normally published on Fridays that deal with political issues. Other publications, such as lifestyle and entertainment magazines are also plentiful.
Many gossip and fashion magazines are also published in Bangkok, especially after the launch of the Bangkok Fashion City project in 2004. Since then, United Broadcasting Corporation (UBC, or now True Visions), the Thai cable operator, has launched a new channel devoted to Thai fashion as well as a Thai edition of E! Entertainment television.
There is a large amount of television media in Bangkok. Six television stations operated and controlled by the government and many major cables TV operators such as True Visions (formally UBC), MTV, TTV, PTV, ASTV are based in Bangkok. They broadcast a total of 100 channels to viewers with including many Thai television stations such as TITV, Nation Channel, ETV, DLTV, Royal TV, Money Channel, SMe TV, six sports channels, and Channel V, among others. There are more than 50 FM radio stations within the Bangkok metro vicinity and 50 AM channels including international brands such as Virgin Radio. Radio stations mainly broadcast in Thai, although some broadcast solely in English due to the growing expat population and the growing number of locals who enjoy learning English.
Chalerm Krung Theater and the National Theater have been in operation since the early 20th century whereas the newer Thailand Cultural Center hosts a variety of plays and events.
Bangkok has dozens of cinema multiplexes, and the city hosts two major film festivals annually, the Bangkok International Film Festival and the World Film Festival of Bangkok.
The arts in Bangkok have well developed almost exclusively and anonymously in the services of Theravada Buddhism since the golden age in Ayutthaya period and continuing to the present day by incorporating Western elements which is called the Rattanakosin or Bangkok style. Nowadays, the modern art scene is centered around Bangkok as the capital of contemporary art in the region, while traditional art can be found in many commercial areas in the old city as well as temples and palaces throughout the city. There are also a number of artists who prefer to live and work outside the metropolis. The number of artists is constantly on the rise, so an increasing variety of works are available on the art market. Many art galleries in Bangkok tend to sell work restricted to traditional rural motifs. The artists creating this type of art are often influenced by traditional Buddhist beliefs and motifs, and are popular among the general Thai public. Nevertheless, some Thai artists are breaking away from these norms by addressing more controversial issues in their work, for example the loss of traditional values and the obsession with money in today's society.
Bangkok is home to the National Gallery of Thailand, Bangkok Metropolitan Museum of Contemporary Art and Thailand Creative & Design Center as well as many other museums, concert halls, theatres, and art galleries. It is home to the Thailand Cultural Centre and the National Theatre.
SportKing Chulalongkorn. Horse racing followed by golf began in Bangkok over 100 years ago when the king bestowed land for the first race course. The objective of His Majesty was to introduce and promote the quality of horse racing and breeding in Thailand, while providing sporting facilities of international standards for Thailand. Today, horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the capital and one of the most famous sport events in the region. Bangkok has hosted the Asian Games four times, in 1966, 1970, 1978 and 1998. Bangkok was also the host of the first SEA Games in 1959 and Summer Universiade in 2007.
Bangkok's popular modern sports are football, golf, bowling and horse racing. The city has many famous league football clubs with a number of international class football stadiums as well as many golf courses and bowling alleys throughout the city. The popular traditional sports are Muay Thai. Fights can be seen in two major boxing stadiums in the city: Rajadamnern Stadium along with Lumpini Stadium, Takraw, which is played in open spaces throughout the city, and kite fighting, which is easy to see in the centre of the old city. Sanam Luang, on the north side of Wat Phra Kaew, is transformed each year around February from a sedate little patch of greenery in the midst of a concrete jungle into an ongoing kite festival as locals come to the park to practice the art of flying kites.
Rajamangala Stadium is Bangkok's new national stadium. It can seat more than 65,000.
Bangkok features a number of sports clubs including the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, Royal Turf Club of Bangkok, Krungthep Kreetha Sports Club, Rajapruk Sport Club (North Park), Royal Thai Police Sports Club, Piyarom Sports Club, Southerners Sports Club and the British Club, which was established in Bangkok in 1903.
Multicultural CommunitiesBangkok has several concentration areas of people of foreign origin. Yaowarat Road is the home of Bangkok's sizable Chinatown, while those of Indian ethnicity have congregated around Pahurat Road. At the West End of Silom Road was the first European community in Bangkok called the old Farang Quarter. The Portuguese Embassy operates from 1820 and was the first embassy to be established in the capital, with their community around the Santa Cruz Church on the Thonburi side. The Haroon Mosque, a small, attractive stucco building is used by the local Muslim population. The French Embassy was the second to be established in the area within walking distance from the Assumption cathedral, one of the biggest building in the area, still serving the community. Along Sukhumvit Road communities of Japanese are around Phrom Phong, Koreatown can be found around Asok Station and the nearby Nana Station is dense with Arab and Afican cultures and food, "Little Africa" neighborhood can be found here.
Urban lifestyleAlthough it is one of Asia's most important cities economically, the urban pace of Bangkok is somewhat relaxed, as the city offers enormous amounts of getaway locations. Most residents tend to stress over the amount of traffic in the city. Peak hours are between 6:30 am to 9:30 am and 4:30pm to 8:00 at night on weekdays, with a general state of traffic on Monday morning and Friday night.
Many residents leave town on weekends to visit seaside resorts such as Hua Hin, Cha-am, and Pattaya. Others return home to visit elderly relatives in Isan and the northern provinces. Saturday is somewhat considered a work day to many of the residents of Bangkok.
Religion does not play a very influential role in the capital as it would compared to other cities. However, a good proportion of the population remains devout and offers daily alms to the monks who walk their neighbourhoods. Muslims are often either assimilated entirely by the Thai or live in remote parts of the city such as the Nong Chok district where traditional Thai Muslims still live.
Current issuestraffic jams, which are still a serious problem. The recent construction of the elevated second-level, third-level and fourth-level expressways, many tunnels and flyovers, BTS and MRT systems, four new SRT lines and BRT Bangkok has eased some of the congestion along specific corridors, but has done little to alleviate overall congestion. The major reason is the continued popularity of private automobiles, and extensive consumer credit for automobile purchases.
Environmental issues such as air pollution, a large part of which is caused by the traffic and dirt left on streets from construction projects, was a major problem. Industrial pollution has also contributed to poor air and water quality. Though sulfur dioxide and ozone levels have fallen substantially, PM (particulate matter) still exceeds health standards in some areas. However, the large volume of trash in the canals must be cleaned out by other means. Mold growth is ubiquitous in Bangkok, as the wet tropical climate makes it grow, and many residents simply ignore it.
As in many other Asian cities, the sale of illegally copied copyright-protected material, mostly software and DVD movies, is widespread in Bangkok, but technically illegal.
Another issue which has given the city a reputation is the sex industry. Prostitution in Thailand is technically illegal, but can be found all over Bangkok in vast numbers of massage parlors, saunas, parks, and hourly hotels, serving foreign tourists as well as locals.
CrimeForeign residents and tourists alike complain of widespread scams and blatant price gouging. Elaborate gem store scams, involving earning the trust of a shopper by a westerner who is in cooperation with local merchants, have robbed tourists of thousands of dollars, although overcharging is more of a common occurrence. Commission-based profiteering is common for restaurants, hotels, and other kinds of businesses. The Tourist Police lack police powers and are largely responsible for writing out reports for insurance companies for victims of theft. In more serious cases, they will translate reports to be passed on to the regular police in Bangkok. Also, despite stringent drug laws, the illegal drug trade continues to thrive.
Armed robbery and violence against tourists are rare, but murders involving tourists and long-term foreign residents do occur. A dramatic increase in the number of illegal immigrant workers in Thailand has resulted in many of the crimes being committed by these illegal immigrants. However, Bangkok is generally considered safe from the standpoint of violent crime. The rates for violent crimes such as murders and muggings are fairly low when compared to other large Asian and international cities.
Bangkok as seat of international and regional organizationsWith its geograpical location at the heart of mainland Southeast Asia and as one of Asia's hubs of transportation, Bangkok is home to many international and regional organizations, including regional headquarters or offices (for Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific region, or East Asia) of many organs under the United Nations system and some organization not belonging to the UN. Bangkok is host to 74 foreign embassies and 32 offices of international organizations
Among others, Bangkok is the seat of the Secretariat of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), as well as the Asia-Pacific regional offices of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).