Bangkok is the capital and a special administrative area of the Kingdom of Thailand. With about 8 million inhabitants and an area of 1,565 km², the metropolis is the country's biggest city. In addition, it is Thailand's political, economic and cultural centre. Bangkok is located in the tropical climate zone at the banks of the Chao Phraya River and the connection between Malay Peninsula and Indochina. Rainy seasons (March to October) with heavy flooding and temperatures between 26 and 30 °C dominate the local weather.
Bangkok originated from a fishing village called "Thonburi", which was developed into the country's capital together with the former village of Bang Kok by King Rama I (founder of the Chakri Dynasty) in 1782. Bang Kok was already mentioned on Portuguese maps in 1511 and even though many Western merchants and travellers were guided by this name, the metropolis' official name was a different one: "Krung Thep". This, however, is only the short version. The full name is the world's longest city name with 168 Latin letters. This name is trying to do justice to the impressive metropolis, which is home to several magnificent palaces and over 400 wats. A wat is a kind of temple complex in the countries of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Bangkok's most important wat is Wat Phra Kaeo on Rattanakosin Island, the metropolis' historical centre. It is located in the wonderful complex of the Grand Palace and accommodates the country's most revered Buddha statue, the Emerald Buddha. Near the impressive palace, you find Bangkok's oldest and greatest temple Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Another landmark of the city is Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, at the opposite bank of the Chao Praya River. The impressive Buddhist temple was built in the 17th century and has a tower which is 79 metres high and decorated with ceramic tiles. Another popular sight is the Vimanmek Mansion, the world's greatest building made from teak wood.
To get an idea of what everyday life in Bangkok was like in the past, many travellers go on a trip on the city's canals (khlongs). The khlongs formed a dense traffic network until the middle of the 20th century, which played an important role in everyday life. Even the markets took place on the waterways ("swimming markets"), most of which were filled in for the construction of roads. You can get to know the present-day life of the locals on a ride with a tuk-tuk, an auto rickshaw, or the Skytrain. Travellers can also experience the city's atmosphere in its vibrant nightlife, which is a mix of hectic activity, modernity and tradition. You feel the latter on one of the many markets, where numerous merchants sell traditional handicraft such as puppets, masks, wood carvings, textiles, fans etc. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the most popular markets in the city and the whole country. Over 9,000 market stalls on an area of almost one square kilometres make shoppers' hearts leap for joy. If you are looking for a luxurious shopping experience, you should visit one of the many shopping centres. And if all that shopping has made you hungry, you can taste Thailand's street food, which is offered at reasonable prices at every corner.
Thanks to the numerous cultural and leisure opportunities, there is no room for boredom in Bangkok. In addition to the obligatory sightseeing tour on foot, by bus or by bike, travellers can play golf on one of the many golf courses, watch the animals in the zoo or look for an adventure in several leisure parks. A boat trip on the Chao Phraya River is another popular tourist activity. If you like it a bit calmer and want to take a break from the hectic city life, the Lumphini Park and the wonderful exotic park of Bang Kra Jao offer excellent conditions for a cycling tour. Another relaxing experience is a Thai massage, which you can get in one of the many spas.
The best time for a trip to Bangkok are the months of spring and autumn. The temperatures are relatively constant throughout the year but due to the monsoon, heavy rainfall and flooding may occur in summer and autumn. You best arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is about 30 kilometres east of the city centre and is one of Asia's greatest airports.