Bangkok was founded in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty. It is now the country's spiritual, cultural, diplomatic, commercial and educational hub. It covers an area of more than 1,500 square kilometres, and it is home to approximatlely ten million people or more than 10% of the country's population. Over the last few decades, Thailand's capital city, Bangkok, has changed into a modern, exciting and sophisticated city. It offers to visitors not only the cosmopolitan amenities they would expect from other big cities, but also a unique treasure trove of cultural attractions. For tourists, Bangkok has a feast of attractions to offer. The city is dotted with 400 glittering Buddhist temples of great beauty and fascination, magnificent palaces, classical dance extravaganzas, numerous shopping centres and traditional ways of life, especially along the "Venice of the East" timeless canals and the Chao Phraya River of the "River of Kings" winding through the city.
Bangkoks history is so closely connected to the waterways. It used to have so many canals that it was often called The Venice of The East. Cruising along the klongs as the canals are called in Thai, takes you on a journey of contrast back to earlier eras and up to modern Bangkok. The most popular klong trips start on the Bangkok side of the Chao Phraya River and cross over to the Thonburi side to venture up Bangkok Noi and Bangkok Yai canals. These journeys take you to fascinating places such as The Royal Barge Museum and the colonial-style Thonburi Railway Station. On the way you will see a different side of life as you pass the homes of the klong-dwellers. The contrast continues as you pass into idyllic rural pockets where villagers grow fruit, vegetables and orchids which are sent to markets on the long-tailed boats. You will see children on there way to or from school and saffron robed monks
This famous Chao Phraya riverbank landmark diagonally opposite the Grand Palace, is best known for a porcelain encrusted 79 metre central pagoda which sparkles in the sun. The temple can be reached either by Arun Amarin Road or by boat from Tha Tian Pier near Wat Pho. Wat Arun gets its name from Aruna, the Indian god of the dawn, hence its common name The Temple of Dawn. The location of the temple is in the area that used to be occupied by the palace of King Taksin who re-established the Siamese Kingdom after the fall of Ayuttaya more than two hundred years ago. The main Buddha image is believed to have been designed by King Rama II. Open : Daily from 7.30 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.
This is paradise for bargain hunters. Every Saturday and Sunday, 9,000 individual booths are open selling an infinite variety of goods. It is just about impossible to go to Chatuchak Weekend Market and not buy anything. There is just about everything that bargain hunters, home makers, pet lovers or just browsers can imagine. Handicrafts are every where including pottery, hand-made glass models of the Royal Barges, fluffy toys, colourful tropical fish, singing birds puppies of many breeds, furniture and lots of new and second hand clothing, shoes, handbags, belts. There is so much on offer that even international home decor wholesales come here to shop. You should allow the best part of a whole day to explore the many stalls. You never know what you will find. But this is work that will make you thirsty and puckish, so take a break here and there to cool off with a fresh fruit juice or feast on delicious Thai dishes such as Pad Thai, barbecue chicken, noodles and sweets.
Vimanmek Mansion, the principal building in the palace compound, was built for King Rama V on land he named The Dusit Garden located between Padung Krungkasem and Samsen canals. The completion was celebrated on March 27, 1901 and King RamaV took up residence until 1906. The mansion was originally his Summer Palace, the Munthaturaltanaroj Residence, on Sri Chang Island. It was dismantled and re-built at the present location under the supervision of HRH Prince Narissaranuwaddhiwongse. The three-storey Vimanmek Mansion is the largest golden teak building in the world, built in an architectural style that reflects European influences.There are 31 exhibition rooms. Exhibits include a silverware room, ceramic display room, glassware and ivory display. Some of the rooms have been preserved to retain the atmosphere of the earlier era, particularly the bedrooms, bathrooms and the Audience Chamber. Other buildings in the compound also house displays of various artifacts and precious art objects.
A new attractions in downtown Bangkok. Open in December 2005, Siam Ocean World will be the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia. With world-standard exhibits and features, the aqaruim comprises a 270-degree acrylic under ocean tunnel, a panoramic oceanarium with a 360-degree view through a 10.5 metre diametre fishbowl, an 8-metre deep reef tank and a rainforest display. More than 400 species or 30,000 marine animals including Penguins, Blue Ring Octopus, Gray Nurse Sharks, Elephant Nose Sharks, Leafy Sea Dragons and Giant Spider Crab can be seen.
Where the worlds young travellers meet. Khao San Road is a favourite crossroads for the young travellers on a budget. It has evolved over the last two decades from just one small hostel providing low-budget accommodation become one of the worlds most well-known destinations. It has been featured in many movies and television documentaries. During the day, Khao San Road is the scene for back-packers looking for a cheap room while others are arranging transport to their next destination in Thailand or overseas. Some will be just chatting with friends over a cup of coffee or a bowl of noodles. At night, it turns into a lively thoroughfare lined with street stalls selling cheap clothes, handicrafts, souvenirs and thousands of other items. During April when Thais celebrate the Songkran Festival, Khao San Road becomes a fun-filled battleground as everyone, Thais and foreigners indulge in splashing each other with water.
Every visitor to Bangkok should see the magnificent buildings within the Grand Palace compound to get a feeling of the grandeur architectural style.