2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Asia

Area: 1,568.7 km²
Ranked 68th
Inhabitants: 6,355,144 (2000)
Ranked 1st
Pop. density: 4,426 inh./km²
Ranked 1st
ISO 3166-2: TH-10
Governor: Apirak Kosayothin
(since 2004)
Map of Thailand highlighting Bangkok Province}
The Bangkok Skytrain at sunset on Thanon Narathiwat Ratcha Nakharin with Empire Tower at the back.
The Bangkok Skytrain at sunset on Thanon Narathiwat Ratcha Nakharin with Empire Tower at the back.
The Wat Phra Kaew temple complex
The Wat Phra Kaew temple complex

Bangkok, known in Thai as Krung Thep ( กรุงเทพฯ ), is the capital and largest city of Thailand, with an official 2000 census population of 6,355,144. Bangkok is located at 13°45′N 100°31′E, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, near the Gulf of Thailand.

Krung Thep has been the proper name of the city for more than two centuries. However, the city's original name of Bangkok (which now is used locally to refer only to a district of the city) persists in being used by most foreigners. (See History and Full Name below.)

Bangkok is a fast growing, economically and culturally dynamic city in Southeast Asia. The World Meteorological Organization has dubbed Bangkok the world's hottest large city. Moreover, it is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Bangkok is the wealthiest and most populated city in Thailand. The city is ranked as the 22nd most populated city in the world


Bangkok began as a small trading centre and port community, called Bang Makok ("place of olive plums"), serving Ayutthaya, which was the capital of the nation (then known as Siam) until it fell to Burma in 1767. A new capital was then established at Thonburi (now part of Bangkok) on the west side of the river, before King Rama I built his palace on the east bank in 1782 and renamed his city Krung Thep, meaning the "City of Angels". The name Bangkok ( บางกอก ) now refers only to an old district on the Thonburi side of the river, but continues to be used to refer to the entire city by most foreigners. The city has gone through a number of change under the Chakri Dynasty. It has long been a gateway to Thailand because of its route which leads to the Gulf of Thailand.

Full Name

Krung Thep, or Krung Thep Maha Nakhon ( IPA: [kruŋtʰeːp mahaːnakʰon], กรุงเทพมหานคร ) is the abbreviation of the city's full ceremonial name Krung Thep Maha Nakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanu Kamprasit (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทราอยุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์), ( listen ), which means "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 Vishnukam." Local school children are taught the full name, although few can explain its meaning because many of the words are archaic. Most Thais who do recall the full name do so as a result of its use in a popular song (กรุงเทพมหานคร/Krung Thep Mahanakhon by อัสนี-วสันต์ โชติกุล/ Asanee-Wasan Chotikul 1989) and will often recount it by recalling the song at the same time, much in the same way that 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.


Bangkok is the economic centre of Thailand, and dwarfs anything in the country, so much so that other cities seem quite neglected. In 2005, it produced a GDP( PPP) of about USD 220 billion, which accounts for about 43% of the country's GDP. Its GDP(PPP) per capita is roughly USD 20,000. The Stock Exchange of Thailand is located in Bangkok with over 400 listed companies and combined market capitalization of about 5 trillion Baht (USD 120 billion) as of 5 January 2006.

Bangkok is home to all the headquarters of Thailand's large commercial banks and financial institutions. Its bank deposits totaled approximately 7 trillion Baht (USD 177 billion) at the end of the third quarter in 2005. There are 18 financial institutions with at least USD 1 billion in total assets. Many transnational Japanese companies own large offices in Thailand because it is prohibitively expensive to do so in other nations.

Tourism is a significant contributor to Thailand's economy, providing about 5% of GDP. Bangkok is one of Thailand's international gateways, the major transit point, and a destination in its own right.

The income disparity of Bangkok's residents is significant, especially among lower-income immigrant workers (from other provinces and neighboring countries) and between government officials, business elite, and retired foreigners. The poverty rate stands at 7% of the population (excluding illegal immigrants who constitute about 5-8% of population) compared to the national average of 9%.


As of the 2000 census, there were 6,355,144 registered residents in the city. However, this figure does not take account of the many unregistered residents and daytime visitors from the surrounding metropolitan area. More than 50% of Bangkokians have some Chinese ancestry. Recently, Bangkok has experienced a large influx of foreign immigrants, long-term residents, and expatriates. The number of expatriate executives stood at 65,000 as of Nov, 2005 and additional number is increase in an average of more than 1,800 permits per month. Long-term foreign residents include 250,000 Chinese (citizens of China), 30,000 Japanese (the largest community in any Asian city outside of Japan), 100,000 Indians (35,000 Sikh) of whom more than 80% have Thai citizenship, 6,000 Americans, 45,000 Europeans (the second largest number in any Asian city after Singapore), 15,000 Taiwanese (mostly Han Chinese), 7,000 South Koreans, 6,000 Nigerians, 8,000 people of Arabic speaking countries, 25,000 Malaysians, and 4,000 Singaporeans. There are approximately 400,000 - 600,000 illegal immigrants from Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Bangladesh, China, and other countries. 92% of the population are Buddhist. The rest are Muslim (6%), Christian (1%), Jewish (300 residents), Hindu/Sikh (0.6%), and others. There are some 400 Buddhist temples, 55 mosques, 10 churches, 2 Hindu Temples, 2 synagogues and 1 Sikh gurudwara in Bangkok.

Year Population
1880 255,000
1910 365,000
1. April 1919 437,294
15. July 1929 713,384
23. May 1937 890,453
25. April 1947 1,178,881
Year Population
25. April 1960 2,136,435
1. April 1970 3,077,361
1. April 1980 4,697,071
1. April 1990 5,882,411
1. April 2000 6,320,174
1. January 2005 6,642,566


Bangkok has a tropical monsoon climate under the Köppen climate classification system. Bangkok is said to have the highest average temperature of all cities in the world.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high °C
Avg low temperature °C
Precipitation centimeters

source: Weatherbase


Bangkok City Hall
Bangkok City Hall

Bangkok is one of two special administrative areas in Thailand (the other being Pattaya) in which citizens vote to choose their Governor, unlike in Thailand's 75 other provinces (changwat). In the 2004 governatorial election Apirak Kosayothin 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 1972 when the previous Bangkok province - changwat Phra Nakhon - merged with Thonburi province.

Seal of the province

The seal of the city shows the god Indra riding in the clouds on Erawan, a mythological elephant-shaped creature (sometimes portrayed with three heads). In his hand Indra holds a lightning bolt, which is his weapon to drive away drought. The seal is based upon a painting done by Prince Naris. The tree symbol of Bangkok is Ficus benjamina.

Bangkok is subdivided into 50 districts (khet, also sometimes called amphoe as in the other provinces), which are further subdivided into 154 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. For details, please see: Thailand local elections, 2006.

Higher education

There are a large number of both private and public universities located in Bangkok area. The oldest universities in Thailand are Chulalongkorn University, Thammasat University, Mahidol University, and Kasetsart University. Other public and private universities include:

  • Assumption University
  • Bangkok University
  • Dhurakijpundit University
  • Dusit Thani College
  • Kesem Bundit University
  • King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang
  • King Mongkut's Institute of Technology North Bangkok
  • King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi
  • Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University
  • Mahanakorn University of Technology
  • Mahamakut Buddhist University
  • National Institute of Development Administration
  • Ramkhamhaeng University
  • Rangsit University
  • Ratana Bundit College
  • Rajamangala University of Technology
  • SAE Institute Bangkok
  • Saint John's University
  • Siam University
  • Srinakharinwirot University
  • Sripathum University
  • Silpakorn University
  • University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce

There are also several "Rajabhat universities", which formerly were part of the teachers college system.


Bangkok is considered to be one of the world's top tourist hotspot and is currently Asia's top tourist destination - the third top in the world according to Travel and Leisure magazine. The city boasts some of the country's most magnificent historical venues such as the Grand Palace. There are numerous projects to maintain Bangkok's historic sites such as the Rattanakosin area. Bangkok is Thailand's major tourist gateway and one of the largest in South East Asia.

Wats and Palaces

The Bangkok Metropolitan area is home to two capitals, the present, Krung Thep and the short Thon Buri reign before 1782. There are numerous historical sites on both banks of the Chao Phraya River which has been the main means of transportation for pre-motor vehicles. The river connects to [[Wat Arun] Wat Pho is home to the reclining Buddha, a marvel of historical sculpture, a Buddha 46m in length and 15m in height and made of pure gold.

There are 3 Palaces in Bangkok, the current one which houses the Royal Family is Chitralada Palace. It is a phenomenal landscaping and design piece due to the wonderfully crafted exterior fencing and a 5m moat around the 1km sq. compound. The King's very own dairy farm and environmental tests are carried within the confines- his extensive work has helped Thailand's farmers battle hard rains and long droughts and other environmental issues.


The Peninsula Bangkok recently won Travel and Leisure magazines top hotels list, whilst the Oriental claimed second however as the magazine may cover only the services and the tourism part of it, the Oriental has won world wide recognition for its magnificent use of land on the Bangkok side of the Chao Phraya. The hotel offers a panoramic view from roughly all hotel rooms of the river scenery. The Shangri-La Bangkok, of the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts chain, also claims themselves to have rivalling picture perfect sets in their rooms. Sukhumvit Road hosts a series of international chains such as JW Marriot, The Landmark, Intercontinental, Sheraton and many more. Somewhat out of the centre is the Grand Princess Hotel near the more bureaucratic part of the city. This 30-story building has its lobby on the 15th floor, presenting the city's massive skyline. The Banyan Westin Hotel on Sathon, one of Bangkok's tallest hotels featured the tallest bar and restaurant in the city, Vertigo, up until the launch of Sirocco on top of State Tower, 247m up from the bustling street set of Bang Rak. Perhaps an underrated and less known hotel is the historical Sukhothai hotel, where at the heart of it all, a corner of peace and tranquility is found.

There are large numbers of cheap hotels however offering comfortable stays scattered throughout the entire city. Notable is the backpackers paradise of Khao San Road where hotels go as cheap as $10 a night. Motels are uncommon unlike Western cities, however a fast and growing business is a bed and breakfast adapted to suit Asian lifestyle, a variety of these small houses can be found in Ploenchit, Watthana and Klong Toey.


Thailand has a variety of shopping experiences from street markets to malls. Tourists have historically always preferred markets and bazaars to the other forms of shopping. The Chatuchak weekend market is one of the largest shopping destinations in Bangkok. Water markets are gradually disappearing but remain strong tourist attractions as many tours are offered through the canals the market is located on.


A Bangkok canal with a home and residents swimming.
A Bangkok canal with a home and residents swimming.
Bangkok from the Chao Phraya River at sunset, July 2004
Bangkok from the Chao Phraya River at sunset, July 2004

An elaborate network of canals ( khlong) gave the city the nickname " Venice of the East" at a time when all transportation was done by boat. Today almost all canals have been filled in and converted into traffic-filled streets. However, many do still exist with people living along them and markets being conducted there as well, however they are severely polluted with sewage and nearly everything else. A notable one is the floating market in Taling Chan district. There is also Khlong Saen Saeb, which has a canal-boat service, the most extensive however being the [[Chao Phraya] Express boat run by the Chao Phraya Express Boat Co.,Ltd. There are as many as 30 stops along the both banks of the river however there are limitations, the further north the boat gets, the far apart are stations and impedes the ability to work as a true mass transit.


Several 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. Many city residents complain they spend more than half their waking day on the dusty streets on a open-air city bus.

Rail systems

In 1999 an elevated two-line ' Skytrain' (officially called BTS) metro system was opened. The remains of a failed elevated railroad project (the Hopewell project) can still be seen all the way from the main railroad station out towards the Don Mueang airport. Due to the Asian financial crisis the construction was halted and the concrete pillars were left unused. Locals call them "Hopehenge," Hopeless, or Stonehenge.

After much reluctance and commotion of being unable to deal with possible floods and damp soil, the subway was finally opened for use in July 2004. The MRT subway system connected 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 the city. It connects to the BTS system at BTS Stations Mo Chit, Asok, and Sala Daeng. Many stations have various designs and concepts with many to install retail shops to draw more commuters, the Hua Lampong station under the Central Rail Station also houses the Rail Museum of Thailand.

Political bickering and profiteering also has stalled many promised and planned urban rail projects including Skytrain and subway extensions, and projects that are completed often are very much delayed.

A new high-speed elevated railroad called the Suvarnabhumi Express, currently under construction, will link the city with the new Suvarnabhumi Airport. The announced opening date is late 2007, but it is expected this will be delayed. The Airport Express railway is to be operated by The State Railway of Thailand. It will provide a 28.5 km link between the new airport and the City Air Terminal ( CAT) at Makkasan with connections to the BTS at Phaya Thai and MRT at Petchburi. There are plans to extend the line to Don Mueang and Rangsit.

Due to completion within the early stages of 2007, the BTS Silom line extension to Wongwian Yai as well as the Sukhumvit line to Sumrong. Plans have already been approved for a further extension from Wong Wian Yai to Bangwah (4.5km), Sumrong to Samut Prakarn (8km), Mochit to Saphan Mai (11.9 km) and the National Stadium to Phran Nok (7.7km) extension of the Silom line which will include 5 underground stations in the Rattanakosin area. The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) have also been given the green light to complete the Dark Red and Light Green lines. Alongside, MRT have also begun construction on 2 new lines, the Purple line from Bang Yai to Bang Sue, the blue line from Hua Lampong to Bang Khae and Ta Pra. Much of this is in a government effort to reduce Bangkokians from relying on personal vehicles and the hope of linking the city within 10 years by a ring road of rail systems.

For intercity travel by train, most passengers begin their trips at Hua Lamphong at the southern end of the Metro. Here, trains connect Bangkok to Malaysia to the south, Chiang Mai and beyond to the north, and Nong Khai and beyond to the northeast.

Bus service

Virtually 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. For destinations in the southeast, such as Pattaya, Ko Samet and Ko Chang, buses leave from the Eastern Bus Terminal, at Ekkamai, the third-eastern-most stop on the Skytrain. For all destinations north and northeast, the Northern Bus Terminal at Mo Chit, which can be reached by both the Skytrain and Metro, is the place to start. Long distance bus service has become safer as drivers are changed and most no longer take methamphetamines including Ya Baa to stay awake, which often caused excessive speeding and passing on dangerous undivided roads.


Bangkok is one of Asia's most important air transport hub, as of 2005 more than 80 airlines served Don Mueang International Airport ( IATA: DMK; ICAO: VTBD) and over 38,000,000 passengers, 160,000 flights and 700,000 tons of cargo were handled at this airport per year. It was the 18th busiest airport in the world and 2nd busiest in Asia by passenger volume and the 9th busiest in the world and 4th busiest Asia in international passenger volume. Don Mueang consistently ranked 19th in the world in cargo traffic, and 7th in the Asia-Pacific region. Don Mueang is considered to be one of the world's oldest international airports opening in March 1914, making it almost 20 years older than Heathrow. It has 3 terminals and is located about 30km north from the heart of Bangkok.

On September 28, 2006 Bangkok officially opened Suvarnabhumi Airport ( IATA: BKK; ICAO: VTBS) (pronounced RTGS Suwannaphum, or loosely Su-wan-na-poom), in the Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan Province. Suvarnabhumi has been one of the most, if not the most anticipated, mega-project in Thai history. The progress of Suvarnabhumi Airport dates back to the early 1970's when a large plot of land (8,000 acres, 20,000 rai) was bought. A student uprising in October of the same year prevented further progress with the development when the military government of Thanom Kittikachom was subsequently overthrown. After several military coups and the Asian financial crisis of 1997, construction finally began in 2002, after 5 years of clearing the cobra swamp. Moreover, the military coup d'etat of September 2006 was to inaugurate the first week of domestic flights.

Suvarnabhumi Airport has been dubbed the 'Pride of Thailand' due to its architecture. Its 2 parallel runways are connected by the 5 concourses of the main terminal building which is the world's second-largest passenger building after Hong Kong's Chep Lap Kok. The airport features a 134 meter-tall control tower, the tallest in the world and one meter taller than Kuala Lumpur International Airport control tower. Moreover, the Airports of Thailand Plc. (AoT) have announced another terminal within the airport for low-cost airlines to accompany 15 million passengers for the growing use of low-cost airliners. This will be encompassed by phase 2 of the Suvarnabhumi Airport which is expected to begin construction in 3-5 years. In total, the airport hopes to handle as many as 100 million passengers per year.

Don Mueang is now the base of the Royal Thai Air Force (RTaF) and is only used for chartered flights.


Foreign residents and tourists alike complain of widespread scams and blatant price gouging. Elaborate gem store scams involving earning the trust of a Westerner who is in cooperation with locals have robbed tourists of thousands of dollars, but overcharging is more of a daily (or hourly) occurrence. Commission based profiteering is common for restaurants, hotels, and just about anything. Often petty theft accompanies prostitution and other crime, with many reports of laptops, mobile phones, cash, and other items of value stolen, and the lack of rule of law and police and business complicity complicate matters, as well as ubiquitous pawn shops where thieves can sell stolen goods with anonymity. Armed robbery and violence against tourists is rare but is common among university students, but murder cases involving tourists and long term foreign residents do occur.

Current issues

Traffic jam in Bangkok
Traffic jam in Bangkok
Taxi motorcyclist in Bangkok
Taxi motorcyclist in Bangkok

Bangkok has long been notorious for its massive traffic jams, which are still a serious problem. The recent construction of the elevated second-level expressways and of Bangkok Mass Transit System's (BTS) SkyTrains have eased the problem a little.

Environmental issues such as air pollution, a large part of which is caused by the traffic and dirt left on streets from construction projects, is also 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) is still exceeds health standards. There have been efforts to clean up Bangkok's canals, many of which are dangerously polluted, through biological means - using water hyacinths, a plant commonly found in the waterways, to cleanse the water of pollutants. However, the large volume of trash in the canals must be cleaned out by other means. Mold growth is ubiquitous in Bangkok, as the tropical wet climate makes it grow, and many residents simply ignore it. Rats and cockroaches are extremely common sightings in Bangkok as trash is not properly put in bins and raw food is dumped onto ever wet sidewalks all over the city.

As in many other Asian cities, the sale of illegally copied copyright-protected material, mostly software and DVD movies, is also widespread in Bangkok, but technically illegal. One of the most popular locations in Bangkok for purchasing unauthorized copies of software is Pantip Plaza. Although many "go through the motions" attempts have been made at cracking down on illegal copying over the years, as with the sex industry, police corruption and cooperation have made it largely ineffective and illegal copying of copyrighted material is still a booming business.

Another issue which has given the city a bad reputation is the sex industry, centered on Patpong, where women and men sell themselves, and prostitution, which is also technically illegal, can be found all over Bangkok as vast numbers of massage parlors, saunas, parks, and hourly hotels exist within the city, serving foreign tourists as well as locals. Organized sex work in Bangkok alone involves a minimum of many thousand workers, and possibly in the tens of thousands. Though Bangkok is far more affluent than many areas in Indochina, popular youth culture encourages easy money, paid sex is seen as a means of acquiring the best of capitalism and life has to offer. Vast numbers of locals fly to Europe on extended vacations with generally older men. Although in upcountry Thailand prostitution holds a strong stigma, in Bangkok locals, hotel workers, and officials often turn a blind eye towards such behaviour and allow it to continue to flourish.


As with many large cities in developing countries, a large proportion of wealth situated in one area causes that region to develop quickly. In the case of Thailand, this area is Bangkok. Bangkok, like Pattaya, is notorious for its prostitute-ridden streets and a-go-go bars and cafes. There are, however, many places to find a relaxing spot and enjoy one of Asia's most diverse cities. Bangkok offers a widely varied nightlife. There are Westernized clubs and cafes for the rich, and lower-cost bars and pubs that are very popular with the locals. The city's renowned district of Phra Nakhon is home to one of the world's very first international streets–Khao San Rd. A walking street, it allows visitors to see the diversity of the world on one single road where East meets West. Sukhumvit Road boasts some of Asia's most exclusive clubs and restaurants along the 5 km section between Ekamai and Withayu, with a number of activities available for the city's thousands of night owls.

Sister cities

Bangkok has a number of sister cities. They are:

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