Undoubtedly, despite the need for teachers and the availability of work for our TEFL Course Gradutes in all of our other training locations, the truth is that most of the great (and best paid) teaching jobs in Thailand are to be had in Bangkok. Therefore, if you haven't learned a great deal already about the city we are so proud to live in, the following information may be helpful. (All maps and much of the information, including some excellent formatting, are courtesty of www.thaiwaysmagazine.com. We're sure those worthy people would appreciate your patronage, as well!)
We named this page "All about Bangkok", which is a lot more true than not, because there is so much useful information here. In the end, however, we decided not to include information about nightlife per se because it would take an encyclopedia volume to cover it all, in all its varieties and venues. In any case, from our experience, you will not have any problem at all finding out where "the" places to go are after you arrive, if not before. In the meantime, we would like to tell you quite a lot of other information about our proud city.
Bangkok is today Thailand's capital and was founded in 1782 by King Rama I (named Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke). It is situated on the Great Chao Phya River Delta which flows from the North down to the Gulf of Thailand. The word Bangkok is derived from two primitive Thai words, i.e. "Bang" meaning Village and "Kok" meaning Olive. Thus its original meaning is "Village of Olives". In the olden days, Bangkok was just a small agricultural and fishing village where people traveled mainly by rowing boats.
The birth of Bangkok as a capital was due to the fall of its former capital, Krung Sri Ayuthaya, in the middle of the 18th century. Ayuthaya, an ancient capital of 417 year, was rich in culture, traditions, and religions and flourished well in trade and agriculture. After resisting the Burmese troops for several months, the city was finally torn down and severely destroyed by the enemy. Thai people were held captives under the Burmese rule for over a decade.
After surveying the destruction of Ayuthaya, he decided to establish a new capital called "Krung Thonburi", because Ayuthaya was too large for his small army to protect as a stronghold and the damage seems irreparable. He was later named "King Taksin the Great", and he ruled over Krung Thonburi for 14 years.
Being a far-sighted man, Yodfa Chulaloke saw that Krung Thonburi would be too small to be a great capital in the future, and so then moved the capital to the other side of the Chao Phya Riverbank in 1782 - which is today Bangkok. Yodfa Chulaloke succeeded to the throne and was the 1st Monarch of the present Chakri Dynasty.
Today, the Bangkokians and most Thai people call "Bangkok" "Krungthep", which means the City of Angels. Believe it or not? The official full name of Bangkok wins the Guinness Book Records as the longest place name. See if you could read it:-
Krungthep Maha Nakorn Amorn Ratanakosindra Mahindrayudhya, Mahadilokpop Noparatana Rajthani Burirom Udom Rajnivet Mahastan Amorn Pimarn Avatarn Satit Sakkatuttiya Vishnukarm Prasit.
This is Bangkok's official name in full version. Is it long enough?
A century ago, Bangkok had many river tributaries and canals until it became known as the "Venice of the East". As modernization stepped up during the past 30 years, more and more roads were built with the sacrifice of these canals, small and mega-sized buildings replacing the rice paddy fields and agricultural farms. However, Bangkok still retains its charm by portraying the combination of the old and the new, and is one of the most attractive cities to visit in the world.
King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke The Great (Rama I) from 1782-1809. The first King of the Chakri Dynasty moved the capital city from Thonburi to Bangkok and built the Grand Palace, which houses the Emerald Buddha. This helped release Thailand from Burmese control, after the fall of Ayuthaya 14 years earlier. There are currently nine kings in the present-day Chakri Dynasty.
MODERN DAY STATISTICS.
Bangkok is the largest city in Thailand, as well as being it's capital and main port. It is the cultural, educational, political and economic center of Thailand, as well as being the only metropolis. Bangkok has grown and expanded to include the area of Thon Buri, which had at one point been the capital of Siam, and the combined area is commonly known as Krung Thep Mahanakhon. The area of Bangkok, including Thon Buri and other provinces, extends approximately 23 miles (37 km).
The population of Bangkok is close to 9 million people. Being so highly populated, Bangkok is currently faced with pollution problems, as well as traffic congestion and critical housing shortages, just like any other large city in the world. Bangkok's weather is hot and humid year round, with temperatures ranging from 26 to 31 degrees C (78-90 degrees F), and generally averages about 35 degrees C (about 95 degrees F) during the daytime. Oddly enough, most foreigners generally get used to the warmer temperatures quite rapidly.
Most residents of Thailand are native Thais, although there is an influx of Chinese immigrants as well as Indians, Arabs, Malays and Europeans. Most Thais are welcoming and friendly to visitors to Bangkok, and thus is one of the most highly visited cities in Southeast Asia. In addition, Bangkok exerts an important influence on Southeast Asia's industrial and financial sectors.
One of the busiest airports in Southeast Asia is located just outside Bangkok, namely Don Muang International Airport. So great are the number of visitors to Thailand, however, that a huge new replacement airport, Suvarnabhumi, is scheduled to open here in October of this year (2006). Bangkok is also well-known for its water travel by way of its rivers, and is the center of transportation in Thailand, with major roads and railways branching out to various parts of the country.
In Bangkok, numerous beautiful temples can be found featuring traditional Thai architecture. The old sections of Bangkok are immensely popular tourist spots, particularly the area around the Royal Grand Palace. Bangkok is an interesting blend of traditional buildings and modern skyscrapers.
THE MOST VISITED PLACES.
Like other modern cities in the world, Bangkok boasts lots of massive buildings, numerous luxurious hotels, shopping centres, and a brand-new modern international airport. But Bangkok has also retained its traditional charms. It is a mixture of East and West, the ancient and the modern. Its surface has taken on the look of the present time, while underneath the old ways are much alive in Thais' everyday life. So, despite its modernization, Bangkok is still well suited for a glimpse of the traditional arts, architecture, religions and other aspects of the culture of Thai people.
|The Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)|
This most famous of places is a must for all tourists. It is a large compound located near Sanam Luang in the very heart of Bangkok. The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha were built after King Rama I ascended the throne as the founder of the Chakri Dynasty on 6 April, 1782 and have undergone numerous repairs and renovations.
The Grand Palace consists of several buildings with different styles of architecture. Wat Phra Kaeo is renowned as the most beautiful and important Buddhist temple in Thailand. It houses Phra Kaeo Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), which is the most highly revered of all Buddha images, and is carved from a single block of fine jade.
Scattered in the temple grounds are numerous interesting sculptures of artistic value, including the fanciful animals in mythology, including the fierce-looking giants standing guard at the gates, the six pairs of Cambodian-style bronze lions and the stone figures from China.
On the inside walls of the temple's compound there are extensive mural paintings depicting scenes from the famous epic "Ramayana". It is the longest wall painting in the world, as well as one of the delights of all Bangkok. A distinctive characteristic of this temple is that there are no monks living in it as there are in other temples.
An Evening Scene
Wat Phra Kaeo
Chakri Maha Prasat, Grand Palace
Among the four groups of palaces, the Chakri Maha Prasat is the largest and most famous. Erected by King Rama V in 1882 as his own residence, the 3-storey building is a mixture of Thai and Western architecture. The top part is pure Thai with tapering spires and tiered, sloping roofs, and the lower parts, designed by a British architect, are in the Imperial Victorian style.
Boromphiman Hall. This French-inspired structure was built by King Rama V for Crown Prince Vajiravudh as his residence. It is now used to accommodate visiting foreign heads of state.
Note: Proper dress is required. Women visitors must wear long pants or long skirts. Men in short pants are not allowed to enter the temple. Photography inside the main temple is forbidden.
City Pillar Shrine (San Lak Muang) Sanamchai Road
Dancing to redeem a vow to the God
Located across the street from the eastern wall of Wat Phra Kaeo to the southeast of Sanam Luang, this shrine contains a wooden pillar erected by King Rama I in 1782 to represent the founding of the capital. The spirit of the pillar is considered the city's guardian deity, to whom hundreds of Thai worshippers daily come to pay homage and offer prayers.
Thai classical dance performances are given many times daily from 08:30 until 15:30 (16:00 on Sundays).
Open daily, 05.30 - 19.30 hrs.
Map : Rattanankosin Island
|Vimanmek Mansion Ratchawithi Road|
Located in the Dusit Palace area behind the old National Assembly Building, this three-storey European style mansion is the biggest golden teakwood building in the world. It was originally built in 1868 by command of King Rama V as a summer house on the island of Ko Si Chang off Chon Buri province. It was moved to Dusit Palace compound in 1901 and used as a royal residence. After having been deserted for decades, it was renovated by order of H.M. Queen Sirikit (Thailand's present queen) in 1982 and opened to the public as the private museum of King Rama V, with 31 exhibition rooms in total. Some rooms such as the bedrooms, the throne room and the bathrooms, are kept in their original conditions, while the others are used to display art works.
Photos by courtesy of Vimanmek Mansion
|National Museum Na Phrathat Road|
Established in 1926 in the reign of King Rama VII, the National Museum is located within walking distance of the Grand Palace next to Thammasat University, and is the largest and most comprehensive museum in Southeast Asia. It contains an 18th-century palace and a group of well-designed buildings housing Thailand's artistic treasures from prehistoric to contemporary times.
The National Museum houses three permanent exhibition galleries as follows:
1. The Thai History Gallery
2. The Archaeological & Art History Collections
3. The Decorative Arts & Ethnological Collections
Head of Buddha,
(15th-17th centuries AD)
Tours conducted at 9.30 a.m. daily – in English (on Wed and Thur), French (Wed and Thur), German (Thur) and Japanese (Wed).
|Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon or Temple of the Reclining Buddha)|
|Chetuphon Road. |
Located next to the Grand Palace on the south side, this is the oldest and biggest temple (built in 1688), with the largest number of pagodas (total 95) and the largest collection of Buddha images (total 394) in the city. Wat Pho is well known for its huge Reclining Buddha, 46 m long and 15 m high. The most striking part of the statue is its soles, which are decorated with 108 auspicious patterns inlaid with mother-of-pearl. This temple also was the first open university of Thailand, and used to offer courses in several branches of knowledge such as literature, archaeology, astrology and medicine.
Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River with Arun Amarin Road at its back, Wat Arun can be reached by boat from Tha Chang Pier near Wat Phra Kaeo or Tha Tian Pier near Wat Pho. Constructed in the 17th century, it is attractive in its striking prangs (a kind of pagoda) which are decorated with millions of pieces of Chinese porcelain. Its central prang, at a height of 82 metres (equal to a 20-storey building) is the tallest prang of Thailand. Visitors can climb up to a high level to have a good view of the Chao Phraya River and the nearby surroundings. However, the most beautiful view of it is from the east bank of the river at sunset.
Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple)
|Si Ayutthaya Road near Chitralada Palace. |
Wat Benchamabophit is one of the most modern works of Thai religious architecture, and where the relics of King Rama V are enshrined.
Graceful and tranquil, this temple is famous for its main chapel built in white Cararra Italian marble to house a replica of Thailand's most beautiful Buddha image, Phra Phutthachinnarat. The courtyard behind the chapel exhibits 53 Buddha images representing famous images and styles from all over Thailand and Asia.
|Samutprakan Crocodile Farm & Zoo Samut Prakan, 25 km from Bangkok|
Here is the world's largest crocodile farm with over 60,000 crocs in stock. Visitors can also view a crocodile wrestling show and elephant shows which are presented several times daily. There is, in addition to this, a modest-sized zoo with some rare animals such as tigers, chimpanzees, lions, leopards, pythons, camels, etc.
|Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo Km 30 of Phetkasem Highway|
This zoo boasts an elephant theme show which includes elephant training by mahouts, elephants working, dancing and playing football and scenes of ancient elephant-back battle. The zoo also includes a crocodile farm with more than 10,000 crocodiles, where daily crocodile wrestling shows are held.
|Damnoen Saduak Floating Market|
This large and popular floating market is about 80 km southwest of Bangkok in Ratchaburi province. Photos of this vibrant market featuring many small boats laden with colourful fruits and vegetables and paddled by Thai women wearing bamboo hats, are among the most often-published in travel magazines and brochures of Thailand.
The Damnoen Saduak canal was ordered to be built in 1866 by King Rama IV of the Chakri Dynasty to facilitate waterborne travel between Ratchaburi and Samutsakhon Provinces. It was finished and opened to the public in 1868.
Nowadays, apart from providing transportation, Damnoen Saduak canal also provides local farmers with adequate water for agricultural purposes. A number of canals were dug to connect with it by local peasants to get water to irrigate their land. As the excellent quality soil along the canal is very fertile, the area has a high potential for producing various kinds of fruits and vegetables.
The Floating Market is routinely crowded with hundreds of vendors and purchasers floating in their small rowing boats selling and buying agricultural products and local food, which are mostly brought from their own nearby orchards. It is therefore a very attractive place for tourists to osbserve this old style and traditional way of selling and buying goods.
Around this area, boat trip services are available for sightseeing along smaller canals branching off from the Damnoen Saduak canal. Visitors can observe Thai traditional houses and the way Thais life there, as well as tasting exotic fruits, local food and refreshing drinks along the waterway.
There are bus services to Damnoen Saduak from the Southern Bus Terminal on Borommarat Chachonnani Road starting at 6 a.m. It is recommended that you get there as early in the morning as possible to escape a crowd of visitors.
|Royal Barges Museum On Bangkok Noi Canal near Arun Amarin Bridge.|
|This museum can be reached by boat from Tha Chang Pier near the Grand Palace. It houses several royal barges used in Royal ceremonial processions on the river. |
The most beautiful and important barge is the Suphannahong, the king's personal barge, which was built in 1911 in the reign of King Rama VI. It is 44.7 metres long and 3.1 metres wide, being the largest and most elaborate dugout in the world. The name, meaning "golden hongsa", came from the bow of the barge carved into the shape of the head of a mythical bird called hongsa.
Royal Barges Museum
Another important barge is Narayana Songsuban, the newest royal vessel constructed for King Rama IX. Its bow was carved in the shape of the Hindu God Narayana riding the Garuda.
|Snake Farm (Pasteur Institute)|
At the corner of Henri Dunant Road and Rama IV Road.
Silom/Surawong/Sathon. Half a century ago, nobody would have had the foresight to predict that the Silom-Surawong area, then a remote district with paddy fields around, would become the most important business and financial centre of Bangkok. Today, from end to end, these two parallel streets are full of big blocks of multi-storey buildings housing many banks, international firms, finance firms, insurance companies, export-import houses, hotels, airlines offices, restaurants, shopping arcades, department stores and entertainment establishments. These two streets are busy not only in the daytime, but also in the evening, when people come out to eat, to meet business friends or to seek enjoyment.
There is a small area in this district which, for about 30 years, has been very well known to foreign visitors for its bars and nightclubs. Known as Patpong, this famous place offers various kinds of entertainment – wine, beer, music, dancing, etc.
Another two parallel streets to the south of Silom Road – Sathon Nua (North Sathon) and Sathon Tai (South Sathon) roads – make up another important business centre. Along both streets there are a good number of big buildings of business firms, embassies, hotels and restaurants.
On Silom Road there are both skytrain and subway stations.
Another interesting place in this area is Baiyoke II Tower, the tallest building in Thailand. The building is 309 metres tall with 2,060 stairs from bottom to top. From the deck on the 77th floor, visitors can enjoy a vast panoramic view of Bangkok.
|Sukhumwit / New Phetburi|
In the section from the Soi Nana (Sukhumwit Sois 3 & 4) crossroads to Soi Sukhumwit 21 (the Soi Asok intersection), there are many shops catering to foreign tourists, where jewellery, leather goods, ready-made garments and souvenirs are sold, and tailoring, car rental and other services are offered.
To the north of Sukhumwit Road is the extension of Phetburi Road, which is rather quiet in the daytime. After dark, however, this long street is brightened by colourful neon signs and enlivened by people going out to enjoy themselves in dozens of entertainment places scattered along the street.
There are both skytrain and subway stations as well. But while there are several skytrains stations along Sukhumwit Road, there is only one subway station at Asok (Sukhumwit 21) at which passengers can connect to the skytrain.
|Old Town / Chinatown|
Old Bangkok town is the original area of Bangkok when it was first established as the capital over 200 years ago. Here are located the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, two universities and several ministries. The town was formerly surrounded by walls. Now only a few sections of wall are preserved as historic sites. It is from this side of the Chao Phraya River that one takes a boat to visit the Temple of Dawn and the canals nearby.
|Banglamphu / Khaosan Road|
It is a bustling shopping area, popular among Thais and foreign tourists alike. Besides budget guesthouses and a great number of inexpensive restaurants and food stalls in this area, there are plenty of shops and stalls selling clothing, shoes and handbags, cosmetics, souvenirs, etc. at attractive prices. It is a centre of silver jewellery where silver ornaments are available in a large number and variety.
It is also an ideal place to enjoy nightlife and attracts an increasing number of Thai youngsters who frequent the restaurants, pubs and bars in the area.
As tour operators are abundant on Khaosan Road, here is a good place to purchase competitively priced air tickets and tour packages.
Now the area on the western side of the river has become one of the most newly developed areas in Bangkok with department stores, many restaurants and nightlife establishments. The wide road starting from the bridge leads to such tourist spots as Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo, the Rose Garden, Nakhon Pathom, Phuttha Monthon, and Thai Human Imagery Museum. Along both sides of the road are numerous fashionable residences.
There are several department stores, office buildings and huge blocks of flats along the Rama III Road which stand in parallel to the Chao Phraya River.
Though the area is rather quiet, nightlife here is interesting, as there are plenty of restaurants with delicious food, beer, music and live entertainments.
We hope that you have enjoyed this little tour of Bangkok, and have found it useful – especially if you have not visited Thailand before. However, if you wish to enjoy all the delights of Bangkok (and the rest of Thailand) permanently, you will need a profession in order to make a living here!
We can only assure you that if you decide to become a teacher of English, the Thais will wecome you and appreciate your commitment.
If you would like to consider taking a TEFL Course and coming to teach English in Bangkok, be very sure that we will take good care of you!
The following will provide you with all of the information you need to choose just the right class and the right start-up date:
Finally, if you do not wish our assistance to advise you on housing needs, then see below if you need a nice place to stay during your initial visit: