Thailand’s capital and gateway city is Bangkok which was founded in 1782 by King Rama I (Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke). The capital is located at the geographic centre of the country and on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, “River of Kings”, which rises in the hills of the North and flows through the flat central plains on its way to the sea in the Gulf of Thailand.
Actually, Bangkok is made up of two words, namely; “Bang” and “Kok”, signifying a “village” or “district” on the river and a “wild olive-like fruit” respectively, thus, it means the “village of olives” which was formerly just a small fishing village. Usually Thai people call their capital by its short form “Krung Thep” which means “City of Angels”.
In factm the capital’s offical full name is “Krungthep, Maha Nakorn, Amorn Ratankosindra, Mahindrayudhya, Mahadilokpop Noparatana Rajahani, Burirom, Udom Rajnivet Mahasta, Amorn Pimarn Avatarn Satit, Sakkatuttiya Vishnukarm Prasit” which may be translated into English as follows: “The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with the nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in enormous royal palaces which resemble the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated God, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarm”. Due to its over a hundred romanised letters, the capital earns a listing in the Guiness Book of Records as the World’s longest place-name.
Bangkok is always the heart and soul of the Thai nation as it is a place where the Royal Family resides, the seat of government and administration, and the commercial centre. Above all, it is a place where the principal royal temple (Wat Phra Kaew) and other leading temples are situated. The capital itself has a remarkable wealth of historical and cultural attractions which cannot be easily found in other parts of the world.
Formerly, the capital was widely known as the “venice of the East”, unfortunately the demands for more and wider roads have resulted in the disappearance of several canals. Its steady growth leads to the expansion into surrounding paddy fields and orchards and, at the same time, forces the buildings to rise higher and higher. But still Bangkok remains as one of the world’s most exciting and interesting cities to visit.