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Bangkok is the capital, largest urban area and primary city of Thailandmarker. Known in Thai as Krung Thep Mahanakhon ( , ), or กรุงเทพฯ Krung Thep ( ) for short, it was a small trading post at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. It came to the forefront of Siammarker when it was given the status as the capital city in 1768 after the burning of Ayutthaya. However, the current Rattanakosin Kingdom did not begin until 1782 when the capital was moved across the river by Rama I after the death of King Taksin. The Rattanakosin capital is now more formally called "Phra Nakhon" ( ), pertaining to the ancient boundaries in the metropolis' core and the name Bangkok now incorporates the urban build-up since the 18th century which has its own public administration and governor.

Since its inception as the capital of Siammarker, it was at the center of European Colonial plans, but due to its strategic location in Indochina, it acted as a buffer-zone and brokered power between the European forces. Through this, it gained notoriety in the world as an independent, dynamic, and influential city. And in the span of over two hundred years, Bangkok has grown to become the political, social and economic center of Thailand, Indochina and Southeast Asia.

As a direct result of the 1980s and 1990s Asian investment boom, numerous multinational corporations base their regional headquarters in Bangkok and the city has become a regional force in finance and business. Its increasing influence on global politics, culture, fashion, and entertainment underlines its status as a global city. In 2009, it was the second most expensive city in South-East Asia behind Singapore.

The city's wealth of cultural landmarks and attractions in addition to its notorious entertainment venues has made it synonymous with exoticism. Its historic wealth coincides with its rapid modernization, reflected in the cityscape and the urban society. The Grand Palacemarker, Vimanmek Palace Complexmarker, its thousands of temples, and the city's notorious red-light districts combine draw in 11 million people international visitors each year, trailing just Paris and London.

Bangkok has a population of approximately 6,355,144 residents while the greater Bangkok area has a population of 11,971,000 (January 2008). The capital is part of the heavily urbanized triangle of central and eastern Thailand which stretches from Nakhon Ratchasimamarker along Bangkok to the heavily Industrialized Eastern Seaboard. Bangkok borders six other provinces: Nonthaburimarker, Pathum Thanimarker, Samut Prakanmarker, Samut Sakhonmarker and Nakhon Pathommarker, and all five provinces are joined in the conurbation of the Bangkok Metropolitan Areamarker. It is served by two international airports, Suvarnabhumi International Airportmarker and Don Muangmarker, four rapid transit lines operated by the BTS, MRT, and the SRT, with plans to add eight more by 2020.

History

The town of Bang Kok ( ) began as a small trading center and port community on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River before the establishment of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, the precursor of modern Thailand which existed from 1350 to 1767. The etymology of the town's name is unclear. Bang is the Central Thai name for a town situated on the bank of a river. It is believed that "Bangkok" derived from either Bang Kok, kok (กอก) being the Thai name for the Java plum (ma-kok, มะกอก), one of several trees bearing olive-like fruits); or Bang Koh, koh meaning "island," a reference to the area's landscape which was carved by rivers and canals.

After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese Kingdom in 1767, the newly declared King Taksin established a new capital in the area of then-Bangkok, which became known as Thonburimarker. When Taksin's reign ended in 1782, King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke reconstructed the capital on the east bank of the river and gave the city a ceremonial name (see below) which became shortened to its current official name, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. The new city, however, also inherited the name Bangkok, which continued to be used by foreigners to refer to the entire city and became its official English name, while in Thai the name still refers only to the old district on the west bank of the river. The city has since vastly modernized and undergone numerous changes, including the introduction of transportation and utility infrastructure in the reigns of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn, and quickly developed into the economic center of Thailand.

Full name

The full ceremonial name of the city given by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, and later edited by King Mongkut, is:

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit( ).

This ceremonial name is composed in combination of two ancient Indian languages, Pāli and Sanskrit. According to the romanisation of these languages, it can actually be written as Krung-dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrayudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīramya utamarājanivēsana mahāsthāna amaravimāna avatārasthitya shakrasdattiya vishnukarmaprasiddhi . It translates to "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 Vishnukarm".

Local school children are taught the full name, although few can explain its meaning because many of the words are archaic, and unknown to all but a few. Most Thais who do recall the full name do so as a result of its use in a popular song, Krung Thep Mahanakhon (1989) by Asanee-Wasan Chotikul 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.

Administration

Districts of Bangkok


Bangkok is one of two special administrative areas in Thailandmarker, the other being Pattayamarker, in which citizens vote to choose their governor, unlike in Thailand's 75 provinces (changwat). In the 2009 gubernatorial election, M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra was elected governor.

The urban sprawl of the greater Bangkok Metropolitan Areamarker extends beyond the borders of Bangkok province, spilling into the neighbouring provinces of Nonthaburimarker, Samut Prakanmarker, Pathum Thanimarker, Nakhon Pathommarker and Samut Sakhonmarker. The province as it is today was created in 1971 when the previous Bangkok province, changwat Phra Nakhon, merged with Thonburi province.

Bangkok is subdivided into 50 districts (khet, also sometimes called amphoe in the other provinces), which are further subdivided into 169 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. The government of Bangkok is called the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration or the BMA.

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

Geography

Topography and climate

The Bangkok special administrative area covers , making it the 68th largest province in Thailand. Much of the area is considered the city of Bangkok, therefore making it one of the largest cities in the world. The Chao Phraya River, which stretches , is Bangkok's main geographical feature. The Chao Phraya River basin, the area surrounding Bangkok, and the nearby provinces comprise a series of plains and river deltas that lead into the Bay of Bangkok about south of the city center. This gave rise to Bangkok's appellation as the "Venice of the East" due to the number of canals and passages that divide the area into separate patches of land. The city once used these canals, which were plentiful within Bangkok itself, as divisions for city districts. However, as the city grew in the second half of the 20th century, the plan was abandoned and a different system of division was adopted.

Bangkok lies about two meters (6.5 ft) above sea level, which causes problems for the protection of the city against floods during the monsoon season. Often after a downpour, water in canals and the river overflows the banks, resulting in massive floods. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has recently installed higher banks alongside some canals to keep water levels from reaching street level. There are however some downsides for Bangkok's extensive canal routes, as the city is rumored to be sinking an average of two inches a year as it lies entirely on a swamp.

Bangkok has a tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen climate classification system. Average temperatures in the city are about 2 °C (3.6 °F) higher than the ones shown for the Don Mueang Airport during the 1960-1990 period. The highest recorded maximum temperature is in May 1983 and the lowest recorded minimum temperature is in January 1955. The coldest temperatures were recorded in January 1924, January 1955, January 1974 and December 1999. The hottest year on record was 1997 (average yearly at Don Muang 30.0C) and the coldest was 1975 (average yearly at Don Muang 26.3C).The coldest daytime maximum temperature was , recorded in December 1992.Hailstorms are virtually unheard of in the city, with only one having been recorded in the past fifty years

Districts



Bangkok has 50 districts or khet, which mark the administrative subdivisions under the authority of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. These are further subdivided into 169 khwaeng (แขวง), roughly equivalent to sub-districts tambon in the other provinces.

  1. Phra Nakhonmarker
  2. Dusitmarker
  3. Nong Chokmarker
  4. Bang Rakmarker
  5. Bang Khenmarker
  6. Bang Kapimarker
  7. Pathum Wanmarker
  8. Pom Prap Sattru Phaimarker
  9. Phra Khanongmarker
  10. Min Burimarker
  11. Lat Krabangmarker
  12. Yan Nawamarker
  13. Samphanthawongmarker
  14. Phaya Thaimarker
  15. Thon Burimarker
  16. Bangkok Yaimarker
  17. Huai Khwangmarker
  18. Khlong Sanmarker
  19. Taling Chanmarker
  20. Bangkok Noimarker
  21. Bang Khun Thianmarker
  22. Phasi Charoenmarker
  23. Nong Khaemmarker
  24. Rat Buranamarker
  25. Bang Phlatmarker
  1. Din Daengmarker
  2. Bueng Kummarker
  3. Sathonmarker
  4. Bang Suemarker
  5. Chatuchakmarker
  6. Bang Kho Laemmarker
  7. Prawetmarker
  8. Khlong Toeimarker
  9. Suan Luangmarker
  10. Chom Thommarker
  11. Don Mueangmarker
  12. Ratchathewimarker
  13. Lat Phraomarker
  14. Watthanamarker
  15. Bang Khaemarker
  16. Lak Simarker
  17. Sai Maimarker
  18. Khan Na Yaomarker
  19. Saphan Sungmarker
  20. Wang Thonglangmarker
  21. Khlong Sam Wamarker
  22. Bang Namarker
  23. Thawi Watthanamarker
  24. Thung Khrumarker
  25. Bang Bonmarker


However, these district areas might not accurately represent functional divisions of Bangkok's neighborhoods. Throughout the years, Bangkok has grown from a city scattered along the river to a metro areamarker that spans as many as six provinces. The city's main business districts and residential areas are continuously expanding. The influx of foreigners from Western countries as well as immigrants from neighboring Laosmarker, Myanmarmarker, Cambodiamarker and many other Asian countries along with the growth of the Thai population has stemmed hundreds of housing projects around the metro area, developing communities along the outskirts. Within years, these communities are engulfed by the greater Bangkok and become another part of this urban jungle.

The most important business districts of Bangkok include Silommarker, Bangrakmarker, Pinklao, Sathonmarker, Phra Ram 2, Phetchaburimarker, Phra Nakhonmarker, Pathumwanmarker, Chatuchak (new central business district), and Phra Ram 3 (new financial center).

As the city expanded on the outskirts, the inner city has nowhere to grow but up. The city has a registered 1,000 skyscrapers and ranks 17th as the world's tallest city. This does not include hundreds of new buildings predicted as part of the construction boom in 2007 and the coming years. Areas such as Silommarker-Sathonmarker and Asok have for decades been Thailand's business center. From 1985 to 1996, Thailand experienced the world's highest growth rates and underwent an economic transformation, Bangkok went through dramatic changes. The Ratchadaphisek area was turned into a business district which continued through the Asok area up north for five kilometers (3 mi). The Sukhumvit area, stretching 15–20 km (9–12 mi), gradually turned into a mixed commercial and residential area. Wireless Road and Chitlom are where some of Bangkok's most expensive land plots exist. Part of the British Embassy on the corner of Wireless and Rama I Roads, nine rai or approximately in area, was sold for USD 92 million or THB 3.24 billion.



Bangkok's Phra Nakhonmarker district alongside Dusitmarker is where most governmental agencies and ministries have their offices. Most of the well-known tourist attractions are also in this particular area due its cultural & historical heritage. This part of Bangkok is perhaps the most popular for tourists as most notable attractions such as the Grand Palacemarker, Wat Phomarker, the Democracy Monumentmarker, the Giant Swingmarker, Sanam Luangmarker and other venues are located here. Thon Burimarker also has its fair share of historic monuments mainly located near the river, such as Wat Arunmarker. The Victory Monument in Bangkok is one of the city's biggest bus destinations. Although not officially a bus depot, its location in the center of city transits as many as 20 bus lines as well as a BTS Skytrain station. Starting from Victory Monument, Phahonyothin road early sois are occupied by ministries, government agencies, commercial buildings as well as upper-middle class residential areas. Further to the north, after the Lat Phrao/Phahonyothin intersection, the Northern Corridor is an expanding business district, where the famous Elephant Building can be found.

Bangkok's north and eastern areas are primarily residential areas for middle class residents of Bangkok. Whereas the inner city often has small apartments and low rises for poor immigrants, Lat Phraomarker and Si Nakharin offer residential compounds and townhouses. The two areas cover as much as to each, and have turned into what is now part of Bangkok as more suburban housing developments sprawl further out to the east and north. The west of Bangkok in Thon Buri is another growing area, approaching the degree of development experienced by the north and east. Suvarnabhumi Airportmarker in the east is seen as a jump start for the eastern expansion of Bangkok as Don Mueang was for the north.

Ratchaprasongmarker is at the forefront of Bangkok's shopping scene. The newly renovated Central World Plaza intends to serve as a square to Bangkokians. Just up the street is Siam Squaremarker, similar to Shinjuku in Tokyomarker and Oxford Streetmarker and Piccadilly Circusmarker in Londonmarker. The Sukhumvit area also serves as a shopping district for foreigners. The popular Chatuchak Weekend Marketmarker in the north of the city is where many people head for cheap, used and high quality products.

Bangkok's poorest districts are spread throughout the city. However, the most concentrated area is just north of the Port of Bangkok at the turn of the Chao Phraya River. For an area of , the Khlong Toeimarker district houses one of the poorest areas in the country with half-built houses and midrises for immigrants and workers from the northeast Isanmarker provinces.

Green zones and major parks

Bangkok has large sections of greenery either preserved by the Department of National Forestry or designated as green zones. The city however, continues to lack a green belt development as economic activity continues to pour into the capital, resulting in massive housing projects along the suburbs.

Bangkok is known for its large green sections within the city centre, including the large forest park between Yannawamarker and Samut Prakanmarker. This part of the city covers an area of over . and is intended to buffer the CBD from the large industries of the west and south of Metropolitan Bangkok. Other areas include Bung Makkasan, an urban city buffer for residences, sections of many major roads which have unbuilt swamps and green fields. Some of these areas are intentionally undeveloped for protecting against urbanization, while others are land lost during the Asian Financial Crisis.

Lumphini Parkmarker is regionally famous. Renowned as Bangkok's Central Parkmarker, it was built in the early 1920s by Rama VI with this intent. It has since been used to hold grand pageants, ceremonies of the Thai constitution, and was a camp for Japanese soldiers during World War II. On Sundays, the western gates are open for runners to run on to Silom Road. The park is normally closed at night due to the incidences of vandalism, robberies and murders reported. Chatuchak Parkmarker and Rama IX Park are two of Bangkok's largest parks. The two, built in the past 50 years cater to Bangkok's suburban population are enormous and include botanic gardens, sports clubs and complexes, English/French/Japanese gardens and parks as well as large ponds and lakes. Other famous parks include Queen Sirikit Park near Lat Yao, Benchasiri Park on Sukhumvit, Saranrom Park across the Grand Palace, Sanam Luangmarker, Suan Romaneenat, and Dusit Park.

Economy

Bangkok is the economic center of Thailand, dominating the country's economy and dwarfing any other urban centers. Development continues to pour in to Bangkok mostly neglecting the rest of the nation. It is ranked as the 55th richest urban agglomeration, slightly behind Singaporemarker, Jakartamarker, and Metro Manilamarker. Its combined economic output is roughly 89 billion dollars in purchasing power parity terms, which accounts for roughly 16 percent of Thailand's GDP also in PPP terms. However, there is a quite a large discrepancy and statisticians and economists would claim that Bangkok accounts for nearly 75 percent of Thailand's service sector which accounts for 45.2 percent of Thailand's 548 billion dollar economy. With the given GDP of the city, the estimates for per capita income is roughly 14,000 dollars, fairly low for a megacity. More realistic but unclaimed estimates put the city's output as high as 210 billion dollars, accounting for 38 percent of national income and per capita income at 33,000 dollars.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand, or the SET is located on Ratchadaphisek Road in inner-Bangkok with over 523 listed companies and combined market capitalization of about THB 6 trillion (USD 197 billion) as of 31 January 2007. Due to the large amount of foreign representation, Thailand has for several years been a mainstay of the Southeast Asian economy and a key center in Asian business. The indices of the stock exchange are SET Index, SET50 Index and SET100 Index. As of Fall 2009, the index is one of Asia's top performing indices, up 58 percent since January.

Bangkok is home to the headquarters of all of Thailand's major commercial banks and financial institutions; 27 financial institutions hold at least 1 billion dollars in total assets. Their bank deposits totaled approximately THB 9.6 trillion, the equivalent of USD 314 billion at the end of the third quarter in 2007. A large number of multinational corporations base their regional headquarters in Bangkok due to the lower cost of the workforce and firm operations relative to other major Asian business centers. Thirteen Bangkok-based companies make the Forbes 2000 list annually. The list includes the largest Thai bank, Bangkok Bank, the country's largest listing as well as the state-owned energy firmPTT, and the renowned Charoen-Phokphand agri-foods conglomerate.

In perhaps every industry, Bangkok is the sole innovator and contributor to Indochina (excluding Vietnam). The market for flights to enter Laos and Cambodia is heavily dominated by airlines based in Bangkok such as THAI Airways International, Bangkok Airways, and the multitude of low cost airlines in Thailand. Telecommunications, retail, real estate, airlines, and media conglomerates mainly cater to the country's growing population, however, few Thai corporations venture overseas and gain notoriety.

Tourism is a significant contributor to Thailand's economy, providing about 5 percent of GDP. Bangkok is Thailand's principal international gateway and a destination in its own right. This giant market has made Bangkok a prime location for hotel operations as well as the launching pad for small and medium accommodation enterprises. Moreover, Bangkok-based hospitality companies such as Dusit Thani Group, Erawan Group, and Siam Hotels and Resorts, have all expanded operations and can officially be classified as a multinational corporation in its own right.

Income inequality is a growing issue in Bangkok, especially between relatively unskilled lower-income immigrants from rural provinces in Thailand and neighboring countries and middle class professionals (45% of registered residents), business elites, and retired and working foreign expats. About 7 percent of Bangkok's population (excluding illegal immigrants who constitute about 5-8 percent of population) live below the poverty line compared to the national average of 9 percent.

Demographics

The 2005 statistics report by the BMA Data Center notes a registered population of 5,658,953. However, this figure does not take into account the many unregistered residents. Most of the city’s population are ethnic Thais. The Chinese are by far the largest minority. Recently, Bangkok has experienced a large influx of foreign immigrants, long-term residents, and expatriates. Long-term foreign residents include 250,000 mainland Chinesemarker, 85,000 Indians (most of whom are Sikh), of whom more than 80% have dual Thai citizenship, 30,000 Japanese (the largest Japanese population in Asia outside Japan) , 25,000 Americans , 45,000 Europeans, 15,000 Taiwanese, 20,000 South Koreans, 6,000 Nigerians, 7,500 Australians, 12,000 people of Arabic speaking countries, 20,000 Malaysians, 4,000 Singaporeans, 5,000 Filipinos, and 800 New Zealanders. A vast majority of the population, 92%, is Buddhist. The rest are Muslim (6%), Christian (1%), Hindu/Sikh (0.6%), Jewish (41 residents), and others. There are some 400 Buddhist temples, 55 mosques, 10 churches, 2 Hindu Temples, 2 synagogues and 1 Sikh gurudwara in Bangkok.

Date 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
Date 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
1 July 2007 8,160,522


Transportation

Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link Makkasan to the airport Opened 5 December 2009


River and canals network

An elaborate network of canals known as khlongs gave Bangkok the nickname "Venicemarker of the East" at a time when most transportation was by boat. Today, nearly all of the canals have been filled in and converted into streets. While many khlongs still exist with people living along them and markets often being operated along the banks, most are severely polluted. A notable khlong market is the floating market in Taling Chan districtmarker. Through downtown Bangkok runs the Khlong Saen Saebmarker, which has a canal boat service. The wide river Chao Phraya, flowing through the city, has several cross-river ferries and the Chao Phraya Express Boat with as many as thirty stops along the both banks extending as far as the northern suburb of Nonthaburi.

Roads

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.

Due to a large number of traffic jams in Bangkok, the elevated highway (Thai: ทางด่วน, , "express way"), linking most road networks in Bangkok together, is another choice for the rush. However, tax is to be paid for utilizing the highway depending on size of the vehicle. This highway also leads to some outskirts of Bangkok including Suvarnabhumi International Airportmarker.

Inner-City Buses

A regular bus service is provided by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) and it operates throughout Bangkok as well as to adjoining provinces around the clock on certain routes. Public buses are plentiful and cheap, with a minimum fare of 7 baht to most destinations within metropolitan Bangkok. Air-conditioned buses have minimum and maximum fares of 11 and 24 baht, respectively. Air-conditioned micro-buses charge a flat fare of 25 baht all routes. A bus route map is available at bookshops.

Rail systems

BTS, Skytrain over Sala Daeng Intersection
On the birthday of HM King Rama IX, 5 December 1999, an elevated two-line Skytrain (officially called BTS) metro system was opened. The remains of the failed BERTS (Hopewell) project can still be seen all the way from the main railroad station out towards Don Mueang Airportmarker. Due to the Asian financial crisis of 1997 construction was halted and the concrete pillars were left unused.

The MRT subway system opened for use in July 2004. The MRT connects the northern train station of Bang Suemarker to the Hua Lamphongmarker central railway station near the city centre, while also going through the eastern part of Bangkok. It connects to the BTS system at BTS stations Mo Chit, Asok, and Sala Daeng.

Currently, transit and development projects initiated by ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin are gaining in popularity with the currently elected government, and have a possibility of being resumed and extended.

A new high speed elevated railroad called the Suvarnabhumi Airport Link, currently under construction, will link the city with the new Suvarnabhumi Airportmarker. The announced opening date has been pushed to back to December 2009. The Airport Express railway is to be operated by the State Railway of Thailand. It will provide a 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, but again, this is very dependent on the political situation.

Plans have been approved for a further extension of the BTS Silom line from Wong Wian Yai to Bangwah ( ), Sumrong to Samut Prakarn ( ), Mo Chit to Saphan Mai ( ) and the National Stadium to Phran Nok ( ). This includes five underground stations in the Rattanakosin area. The State Railway of Thailand has also been given approval to complete the Dark Red and Light Green lines. Alongside, MRT has also begun construction on two new lines, the Purple line from Bang Yai to Bang Sue, and the Blue line from Hua Lampong to Bang Khae and Ta Pra.

For intercity travel by train, most passengers begin their trips at Hua Lamphongmarker at the southern end of the MRT. Here, trains connect Bangkok to Malaysiamarker in the south, Chiang Maimarker to the north, and Nong Khaimarker to the northeast and beyond to Laosmarker.

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 in the Thonburimarker area. For destinations in the southeast, such as Pattayamarker, Ko Sametmarker and Ko Changmarker, buses leave from the Eastern Bus Terminal at Ekkamai. For all destinations north and northeast, the Northern Bus Terminal is at Mo Chit. Bangkok's less accessible southern terminal was recently moved even farther out. Though Bangkok is well connected to other cities, getting to the bus terminals often are a challenge in themselves .

Bus (Bangkok Mass Transit Authority)

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority service area covers Bangkok Metropolis and its suburban areas in the adjacent provinces of Nonthaburimarker, Samut Prakanmarker, Pathum Thanimarker, Nakhon Pathommarker, and Samut Sakhonmarker. It serves approximately 3 million passengers per day. The service hours are 05.00-23.00 hrs, except 24-hr night-owl service on some routes. In September 2005, BMTA owns a fleet of 3,579 buses—comprising 1,674 ordinary buses and 1,905 air-conditioned buses. In addition to BMTA-owned buses, there are 3,485 private-own contract buses, 1,113 contract minibuses, 2,161 side-street songthaews, and 5,519 vans. In total, there are 15,857 buses and vans over 427 routes across 8 zones.

  • Zone 1: North (Hubs: Rangsit, Bangkhen)
  • Zone 2: Upper East (Hubs: Bangkapi, Minburi)
  • Zone 3: Lower East (Hubs: Samrong, Samut Prakan)
  • Zone 4: South Central (Hubs: Khlong Toey)
  • Zone 5: Southwest (Hubs: Dao Khanong, Phra Pra Daeng)
  • Zone 6: West (Hubs: Bangkhae, Thonburi)
  • Zone 7: Northwest (Hubs: Nonthaburi, Pak Kret)
  • Zone 8: Central (Hubs: Huay Khwang)


Airports



Bangkok is one of Asia's most important air transport hubs. In 2005, more than ninety airlines served Don Mueang International Airportmarker (IATA: DMK; ICAO: VTBD). It was the 18th busiest airport in the world, second busiest in Asia by passenger volume, 15th busiest in the world and fourth busiest in Asia in international passenger volume. Don Mueang consistently ranked 19th in the world in cargo traffic, and seventh in the Asia-Pacific region. Don Mueang is considered to be one of the world's oldest international airports, its opening in March 1914 making it almost twenty years older than London Heathrowmarker. It has three terminals and is located about north from the heart of Bangkok.

On 28 September 2006, Suvarnabhumi Airportmarker (IATA: BKK; ICAO: VTBS), became Bangkok's official international airport, replacing Don Mueang. Pronounced Suwannaphum (RTGS), or loosely Su-wan-na-poom, the airport is located southeast of the city center in Bang Phlimarker district, Samut Prakan Provincemarker. The progress of Suvarnabhumi Airport dates back to the early 1970s when a large plot of land (32 km²) was bought. A student uprising in October of the same year prevented further progress with the development when the military government of Thanom Kittikachorn was subsequently overthrown. After several military coups and the Asian financial crisis of 1997, construction finally began in 2002, after five years of clearing the site. The first flights landed in September 2006, shortly after another military coup. Its two parallel runways are connected by the five concourses of the main terminal building. The airport features a -tall control tower, the tallest in Asia and one meter (3.2 ft) taller than Kuala Lumpur International Airportmarker control tower. It is the tallest stand alone purpose built control tower in the world. Airports of Thailand Plc. (AoT) have announced another terminal to accommodate a further fifteen million passengers. This will be part of Phase 2 of the airport, which is expected to begin construction in three to five years. The main airline of Suvarnabhumi is Thai Airways International.



Much of the construction of Suvarnabhumi Airport took place during the premiership of Thaksin Shinawatra, who took personal responsibility for its timely completion. Despite a "ceremonial" opening on the planned date, construction was over a year late. Continuing controversy surrounds the quality of planning and construction; accusations include cracks in the runway, overheated buildings, a severe shortage of toilet facilities and lengthy passenger walks to departure gates. The fact that the airport is already overcrowded and near its maximum capacity less than a year after opening is another concern.

Don Mueang remains in use as a base of the Royal Thai Air Force. Most of the low-cost airlines now use the airport for domestic flights, in an effort to ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi, until the next terminal is opened.

Transport network



Taxis

A typical Corolla taxi operated among the Bangkok taxi services.
Three-wheeled ‘open-air’ motorized taxis called tuk-tuks (auto rickshaws in other countries) are popular for short journeys. Motorcycle Taxis (Taxi Motocy, "วินมอเตอร์ไซค์") also operate in the city and usually accommodate one, or seldom two, passengers. The fare for tuk-tuks and motocys is negotiable between passenger and driver, while car taxis are metered, with minimum fare of 35 baht and charged by distance and waiting time.

Education



The majority of the country's universities, both public and private, are located in and/or around the capital. Chulalongkorn Universitymarker and Thammasat University are at the forefront of tertiary education. The two are both public universities and have been a foundation for young thinkers for nearly a century. Over the past few decades however, the general trend of pursuing a university degree has prompted new universities to crop up and meet the needs of the Thai people. Bangkok became not only a place where immigrants and provincial Thais flock to for job opportunities, but a chance to receive a university degree. Ramkhamhaeng Universitymarker emerged in 1971 as the only open university then, it has the highest enrolment of students compared with any other Thai university. Ramkhamhaeng was one of the Thai government's ways to deal with the rise in a demand for tertiary education. The growth of universities has stemmed tens and hundreds of other universities and colleges in the metropolitan area. Vocational/technical colleges have recently seen their fair share of success. One of such is SAE Institute Bangkok (started in 2002). In recent years, a large number of private institutions primarily with western ties and exchange programs have made their way to the capital. The rise in the number of schools offering English teaching have raised the bar for many state-owned institutions to meet up with private standards.

Despite such competition, Chulalongkorn Universitymarker, Thammasat University and Mahidol Universitymarker remain the nation's leading institutions. Kasetsart Universitymarker, King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburimarker,King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabangmarker, Assumption University among others were ranked in the top 500 of THES - QS World University Rankings for 2007. Bangkok also plays host to the Asian Institute of Technologymarker (AIT), built as an international co-operative institute between Asia-Pacific nations. There are also many Buddhist universities branching into the realm of religious studies in which Bangkok has taken a leading role.

Amidst all this however, the tertiary education scene in Bangkok is still over swamped with non-Bangkokian's. Officials currently stress the need for a revamping of the Thai educational system. Education has long been a prime factor in the centralization of Bangkok and will play a vital role in the government's efforts to decentralize the country.

Health care and medical centers

Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University the oldest hospital in Thailand
Bangkok has a large number of hospitals and medical centers, which include eight of the country's fifteen medical schools. Many hospitals in Bangkok act as tertiary care centers, receiving referrals from distant parts of the country. Lately, especially in the private sector, there has been much growth in medical tourism, with many hospitals providing services specifically catering to foreigners.

The Bumrungrad Hospital is the main international class hospital on Sukumvit Road, and is popular with expats, wealthy Thais and medical tourists. Its closest competitors are Samithivej Hospitaland and Bangkok Hospital Medical Center. All 3 of which have achieved accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI).

Tourism



Bangkok is considered to be one of the world's tourist hotspots. Bangkok is Thailand's major tourist gateway, which means that the majority of foreign tourists arrive in Bangkok. The city boasts some of the country's most visited historical venues such as the Grand Palacemarker, Wat Phomarker, and Wat Arunmarker. There are numerous projects to maintain Bangkok's historic sites in the Rattanakosin area and river districts.

Culture

Festivals and events

Bangkok Songkran Festival 13–15 AprilThe traditional Thai New Year is an occasion for merriment all over the city, but most notably at Sanam Luang, near the Grand Palace, where the revered Phra Phuttha Sihing image is displayed and bathed by devotees. In the Wisutkasat area, a Miss Songkran beauty contest is held and accompanied by merit-making and entertainment. Khao San Road, Bang Lamphu area is also one of the high-spots in the city where locals and tourists play water by the water-throwing activities.

Royal Ploughing Ceremony May

An ancient Brahman ritual, conducted at Sanam Luang, in which farmers believe, is able to forecast the abundance of the next rice crop. The event is a result of a series of ceremonies that are conducted by Phraya Raek Na, portrayed by a high-ranking official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives who wears colourful traditional costumes. This ceremony was re-introduced in 1960 by H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej and is considered the official commencement of the rice-growing season.

H.M. The Queen’s Birthday Celebration 12 August

To display their loyalty and to honour Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on the occasion of her royal birthday, the Thai people decorate their houses and public buildings. Around Bangkok, Ratchadamnoen Avenue, the area around the Grand Palace and other well-known locations are bedecked with coloured lights and magnificent adornments.

Trooping of the Colours December

Their majesties the King and Queen preside over this impressive annual event, held in the Royal Plaza near the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn. Dressed in colourful uniforms, amid much pomp and ceremony, members of the elite Royal Guards swear allegiance to the king and march past members of the royal family.

H.M. The King’s Birthday Celebrations 5 December

H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch is well beloved and deeply respected by all Thais old and young. The occasion of his royal birthday provides his loyal subjects the opportunity to express their reverence for him. All over the country, buildings and homes are elaborated and the area around the Grand Palace is spectacularly illuminated.

Media



There is an average of four million readers for more than 25 Bangkok based newspapers, one of which, Thai Rath, sells over a million copies a day. Bangkok also has two major English-language dailies, the Bangkok Post and The Nation and the new free-sheet, The Daily Xpress. The Asian Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune are printed in Bangkok and have high distribution numbers. There are also a number of weekly publications normally published on Fridays that deal with political issues. Other publications, such as lifestyle and entertainment magazines are also plentiful.

Many gossip and fashion magazines are also published in Bangkok, especially after the launch of the Bangkok Fashion City project in 2004. Since then, United Broadcasting Corporation (UBC, or now True Visions), the Thai cable operator, has launched a new channel devoted to Thai fashion as well as a Thai edition of E! Entertainment television.

There is a large amount of television media in Bangkok. Six television stations operated and controlled by the government and many major cables TV operators such as True Visions (formally UBC) , MTV, TTV, PTV, ASTV are based in Bangkok. They broadcast a total of 100 channels to viewers with including many Thai television stations such as TITV, Nation Channel, ETV, DLTV, Royal TV, Money Channel, SMe TV, six sports channels, and Channel V, among others. There are more than 50 FM radio stations within the Bangkok metro vicinity and 50 AM channels including international brands such as Virgin Radio. Radio stations mainly broadcast in Thai, although some broadcast solely in English due to the growing expat population and the growing number of locals who enjoy learning English.

Chalerm Krung Theater and the National Theater have been in operation since the early 20th century whereas the newer Thailand Cultural Centermarker hosts a variety of plays and events.

Bangkok has dozens of cinema multiplexes, and the city hosts two major film festivals annually, the Bangkok International Film Festival and the World Film Festival of Bangkok.

Art



The National Gallery located near Sanam Luang is a popular venue for art in Thailand.

The arts in Bangkok have well developed almost exclusively and anonymously in the services of Theravada Buddhism since the golden age in Ayutthaya period and continuing to the present day by incorporating Western elements which is called the Rattanakosin or Bangkok style. Nowadays, the modern art scene is centred around Bangkok as the capital of contemporary art in the region, while traditional art can be found in many commercial areas in the old city as well as temples and palaces throughout the city. There are also a number of artists who prefer to live and work outside the metropolis. The number of artists is constantly on the rise, so an increasing variety of works are available on the art market. Many art galleries in Bangkok tend to sell work restricted to traditional rural motifs. The artists creating this type of art are often influenced by traditional Buddhist beliefs and motifs, and are popular among the general Thai public. Nevertheless, some Thai artists are breaking away from these norms by addressing more controversial issues in their work, for example the loss of traditional values and the obsession with money in today's society.

Bangkok is home to the National Gallery of Thailandmarker, Bangkok Metropolitan Museum of Contemporary Artmarker and Thailand Creative & Design Center as well as many other museums, concert halls, theatres, and art galleries. It is home to the Thailand Cultural Centremarker and the National Theatre.

Sport

Modern sports have been introduced to the people of Bangkok dating back a century by King Chulalongkorn. Horse racing followed by golf began in Bangkok 100 years ago when the king bestowed land for the first race course. The objective of His Majesty was to introduce and promote the quality of horse racing and breeding in Thailand, while providing sporting facilities of international standards for Thailand. Today, horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the capital and one of the most famous sport events in the region. Bangkok has hosted the Asian Games four times, in 1966, 1970, 1978 and 1998. Bangkok was also the host of the first SEA Games in 1959 and Summer Universiade in 2007.

Bangkok's popular modern sports are football, golf, bowling and horse racing. The city has many famous league football clubs with a number of international class football stadiums as well as many golf courses and bowling alleys throughout the city. The popular traditional sports are Muay Thai, which is held in two major boxing stadiums in the city: Rajadamnern Stadiummarker along with Lumpini Stadiummarker, Takraw, which is played in open spaces throughout the city, and kite fighting, which is easy to see in the centre of the old city. Sanam Luangmarker, on the north side of Wat Phra Kaewmarker, is transformed each year around February from a sedate little patch of greenery in the midst of a concrete jungle into an ongoing kite festival as locals come to the park to practice the art of flying kites.

Rajamangala Stadiummarker is Bangkok's new national stadium. It can seat more than 65,000.

Bangkok features a number of sports clubs including the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, Southerners Sports Club and the British Club, which was established in Bangkok in 1903.

Urban lifestyle

An increasing trend in Bangkok's skyscrapers are sky bars which take advantage of Bangkok's year round warm climate and high amount of sunshine.


Although it is one of Asia's most important cities economically, the urban pace of Bangkok is somewhat relaxed, as the city offers enormous amounts of getaway locations. Most residents tend to stress over the amount of traffic in the city. Peak hours are between 6:30 am to 9:30 am and 4:30pm to 8:00 at night on weekdays, with a general state of traffic on Monday morning and Friday night.

Many Bangkokians leave town on weekends to visit seaside resorts such as Hua Hinmarker and Pattayamarker. Others return home to visit elderly relatives in Isanmarker and the northern provinces. Saturday is somewhat considered a work day to many Bangkokians.

Religion does not play a very influential role in the capital as it would compared to other cities. However, a good proportion of the population remains devout and offers daily alms to the monks who walk their neighbourhoods. Muslims are often either assimilated entirely by the Thai or live in remote parts of the city such as the Nong Chokmarker district where traditional Thai Muslims still live.

Current issues

Bangkok has long been notorious for its massive traffic jams, which are still a serious problem. The recent construction of the elevated second-level, third-level and fourth-level expressways, many tunnels and flyovers, BTS and MRT systems, four new SRT lines and BRT Bangkok has eased some of the congestion along specific corridors, but has done little to alleviate overall congestion. The major reason is the continued popularity of private automobiles, and extensive consumer credit for automobile purchases.

Environmental issues such as air pollution, a large part of which is caused by the traffic and dirt left on streets from construction projects, was 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) still exceeds health standards in some areas. However, the large volume of trash in the canals must be cleaned out by other means. Mold growth is ubiquitous in Bangkok, as the wet tropical climate makes it grow, and many residents simply ignore it.

As in many other Asian cities, the sale of illegally copied copyright-protected material, mostly software and DVD movies, is widespread in Bangkok, but technically illegal.

Another issue which has given the city a reputation is the sex industry. Prostitution in Thailand is technically illegal, but can be found all over Bangkok in vast numbers of massage parlors, saunas, parks, and hourly hotels, serving foreign tourists as well as locals. Organized sex work in Bangkok alone involves a minimum of many thousands of workers, and possibly in the tens of thousands .

Crime

Foreign residents and tourists alike complain of widespread scams and blatant price gouging. Elaborate gem store scams, involving earning the trust of a shopper by a westerner who is in cooperation with local merchants, have robbed tourists of thousands of dollars, although overcharging is more of a common occurrence. Commission-based profiteering is common for restaurants, hotels, and other kinds of businesses. The Tourist Police lack police powers and are largely responsible for writing out reports for insurance companies for victims of theft. In more serious cases, they will translate reports to be passed on to the regular police in Bangkok. Also, despite stringent drug laws, the illegal drug trade continues to thrive.

Armed robbery and violence against tourists is rare, but murders involving tourists and long-term foreign residents do occur. A dramatic increase in the number of illegal immigrant workers in Thailand has resulted in many of the crimes being committed by these illegal immigrants. However, Bangkok is generally considered safe from the standpoint of violent crime. The rates for violent crimes such as murders and muggings are fairly low when compared to other large Asian and international cities.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Bangkok has a number of sister cities. They are:

See also



References

  1. http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/expensive-cities-asia.html
  2. http://www.euromonitor.com/Trend_Watch_Euromonitor_Internationals_Top_City_Destinations_Ranking
  3. http://www.citypopulation.de/Thailand.html
  4. Bangkok Post, "Maori claims world's longest place name", 1 September 2006
  5. " Calculated Average Height of the Ten Tallest (CAHTT), UltrapolisProject.com. Retrieved 26 March 2007.
  6. http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/richest-cities-2005.html
  7. http://asia.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20091016/tbs-thailand-economy-stocks-5b757e1.html
  8. Bangkok (Thailand). Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
  9. Accessed 17 June 2007.
  10. "In With the Old", Aviation Week & Space Technology, 1 January 2007.
  11. About Thai Rath
  12. The Nation
  13. [1] The Effective Administration of Criminal Justice to Tackle Trafficking in Human Beings and Smuggling of Migrants in Thailand, Pongson Kongtreekaew
  14. St. Petersburg in figures > International and Interregional Ties
  15. "Agreement of Sister City Relations"
  16. "Bangkok er ny vennskapsby". Adresseavisen. Retrieved on 29 May 2009.
  17. >Istanbul and Bangkok Become Sister Cities
  18. "Bangkok besöker Ragunda". Ragunda kommun. Retrieved on 14 november 2009.
  19. "Ragunda kommun får besök från sin vänort Bangkok". Ragunda kommun. Retrieved on 14 november 2009.


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