Bangkok was a small trading post on a bank of Chao Phraya River until it became the capital of old Siam in 1768 during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The capital was destroyed during the Burmese invasion but Siamese dominance returned shortly, spearheaded by Taksin the Great, who re-conquered the previously lost lands and expanded Siamese dominance into Burma to the West and south to the Malay Peninsula. King Rama I moved the capital to the opposite side of the river in 1782. Nowadays the entire metropolitan region is known locally as Krung Thep, which means ‘City of Angels’ (the locals never refer to the entire city as Bangkok, just to the Old Town). Currently the city of Krung Thep has expanded over both banks of the river and beyond with a population of over 15 million. The city has a cosmopolitan feel, with a large influx of Westerners, Indians, Middle Easterners, Chinese and people from other Asian countries living among the native Thai population. Despite European pressure, Siam (later Thailand), was the only country in South East Asia not to be colonized, serving as a buffer zone between French Indochina and British Burma.
Independent Siam did lose territory to the European powers, chiefly the Malay Peninsula to the British (the area later became Malaysia) and other territories ceded to French Indochina and British Burma. During World War II, Thailand permitted the Japanese to travel freely through their territory in exchange for not been occupied. Since the end of the war Thailand has been solidly allied with the West and has grown into the largest tourism center of South East Asia. Bangkok is located just under 14 degrees north of the Equator, has been voted one of the most traveler-friendly cities in Asia. The first impression may be of a hot and humid concrete jungle but you will soon be taken over by its many charms, specially the friendliness of the local people, the luxury of its four & five star hotels, the bustle of its floating and night markets, and the abundance of tropical fruits.
Bangkok is served by two airports, the new international Suvarnabhumi Airport and the older now mostly domestic; Don Muang Airport. Bangkok Airways is their national airline. The city is also served by Rail and Bus stations. The best way to get to the city from the airports is by metered taxi. Once in the city, you can use the air conditioned metro or Tuc Tuc Moped rickshaws (good for driving into small side streets called Soi). Boat taxis are perfect to navigate the canals and floating markets. Avoid the motorbike taxis as they are accident prone, but they are the fastest way to beat traffic congestion.
Things To Do:
Visit old Bangkok on Rattanakosin Island for its many temples and palaces dating to the re-founding of the capital in the 1700′s, including The Grand Palace, the former residence of the King. Cruise Bangkok’s canals for its floating markets and restaurants and get a glimpse of the former “Venice of the east”. Bangkok has the largest and most luxurious shopping malls in South East Asia and many night markets. Relax with live Jazz and drinks at the Bamboo bar in the Mandarin Oriental hotel and then hit the town for the wildest night life in Asia on Bangkok’s Silom district, including the world famous Patpong road, home to over four levels of Go-Go Bars, a Bangkok institution since the 1960′s.
Bangkok is known for its hot climate and sunny weather with high humidity levels which is noticed more in the months of April and May. The hottest period is from March to August and the rainy season is from June to October. The best season to visit Bangkok is during the winter months which begins in November and lasts until February.
Bangkok is one of the major tourist attractions and millions of people visit every year. There are plenty of accommodation options available in Bangkok hotels. If you are looking for big, high quality and affordable hotel, you can find them in Siam Square and Ploenchit Road which is also referred as the main hotel district of the city. There are other areas such as Banglampoo where the backpackers can find inexpensive guest houses across the river and Chinatown which is one of the most vibrant parts of Bangkok. Most of the hotels also provide car rental services to important tourist attraction.