Sunday, September 2, 2007

Bangkok, known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (IPA: [kruŋtʰeːp mahaːnakʰɔn], กรุงเทพมหานคร ) or Krung Thep (กรุงเทพฯ ) for short, is the capital of and largest city in Thailand. Bangkok is located at 13°45′N 100°31′ECoordinates: 13°45′N 100°31′E, on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, near the Gulf of Thailand.
Bangkok is the 22nd most populous city in the world. Bangkok has a recorded population of 6 million, but it is thought to be higher. The city is a major economic and financial center of Southeast Asia. Bangkok has one of the fastest rates in the world for construction of high rise buildings. The city's wealth of cultural sites makes it one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.
The Bangkok Province borders six other provinces: Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Chachoengsao, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Nakhon Pathom.

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 Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลกภพ นพรัตน์ราชธานี บุรีรมย์อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์, listen ). 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 purīrāmasya 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 Vishnukam".
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 (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.

As of the 2000 census, there were 6,355,144 registered residents in the city. A vast majority of the population, 92%, is 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.


Geography and climate
Bangkok province covers 1,568.7 km², making it the 68th largest province in Thailand. Average temperatures in the city are about 2°C higher than the ones shown for the Don Muang Airport at 1960-1990 period. Absolute maxima is 40.8°C and absolute minima is 10.0°C. The coldest temperatures were recorded in January 1924, January 1955, and January 1974.
source: Weatherbase

Topography and climate
See also: List of districts in Bangkok
Bangkok has 50 districts or khets, each with a distinct difference in governance. All however, are under the control and authority of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. Throughout the years, Bangkok has grown from a city scattered along the river to a metro area that spans as many as six provinces. The city's main business districts and residential areas are continuosly expanding. The influx of foreigners from Western countries as well as immigrants from neighbouring Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and many other South 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 buisiness districts of Bangkok include Silom, Bangrak, Pinklao, Sathon, Phra Ram 2, Petchaburi, Phra Nakhon, and Pathumwan.
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 part of Bangkok is perhaps the most popular for tourists as most notable attractions such as the Grand Palace, Democracy Monument, Giant Swing, Sanam Luang and other venues are located here. Thon Buri also has its fair share of historic monuments mainly located near the river, such as Wat Arun. The Victory Monument in Bangkok is one of the city's biggest bus destinations. Although not officially a bus depot, its location in the centre of city transits as many as 20 bus lines as well as a BTS Skytrain station.
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, Lad Prao and Sri Nakarin offer residential compounds and townhouses. The two areas cover as much as 100 km²-150 km² 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 Airport in the east is seen as a jump start for the eastern expansion of Bangkok as Don Muang was for the north.
Ratchaprasong is at the fore front 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 Square, similar to Shinjuku in Tokyo and Oxford Street and Picadilly Circus in London. The Sukhumvit area also serves as a shopping district for foreigners. The popular Chatuchak Weekend Market in the north of the city is where many people head for cheap, 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 ten km², the Khlong Toei district houses one of the poorest areas in the country with half-built houses and midrises for immigrants and workers from the northeast Isan provinces.

Bangkok has a 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. However, in recent years, there has been a stronger voice towards preserving the environment containing population within the city. On Sundays, the western gates are open for runners to run on to Silom Road. It normally remains closed at night with police patrols due to the large amount of vandalism, robberies and murders reported. Chatuchak Park 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 Lad Yao, Benjasiri Park on Sukhumvit, Saranrom Park across the Grand Palace, Sanam Luang, Suan Romaneenat, and Dusit Park.

Bangkok Green zones and major parks
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.
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.
Bangkok is subdivided into 50 districts (khet, also sometimes called amphoe 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 July 23, 2006.
See also: Thailand local elections, 2006

See also: List of Bangkok universities
There are a large number of private and public universities in Bangkok, including Thailand's oldest university, Chulalongkorn University. There are also several Rajabhat universities, which formerly were part of the teacher's college system.

Higher education

Main article: List of hospitals in Bangkok Health care and medical centers
Bangkok is considered to be one of the world's top tourist hotspots and is currently Asia's top tourist destination - the third in the world according to Travel and Leisure magazine. The city boasts some of the country's most visited historical venues such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. There are numerous projects to maintain Bangkok's historic sites in the Rattanakosin area and river districts.


Main article: List of palaces in Bangkok Palaces and Wats
A number of deluxe hotels can be found in Bangkok, such as the Peninsula Bangkok, which recently made the top 10 in Travel and Leisure magazine's top 100 hotels list, coming in at #4, while the Oriental Hotel claimed the ninth spot. Sukhumvit Road hosts a series of international chains such as JW Marriot, The Landmark, Intercontinental, Sheraton, and The Davis. The Banyan Tree 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, 247 m up from the bustling street set of Bang Rak.
There are large numbers of cheap hotels however scattered throughout the city, most notably in the backpackers' paradise of Khao San Road. Unlike Western cities, motels are uncommon in Bangkok. However, a fast and growing business is bed and breakfasts adapted to suit the Asian lifestyle. A variety of these small houses can be found in Phloenchit, Watthana and Khlong Toei.

See also: Bangkok Markets and List of shopping malls in Bangkok
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 markets are located on.
The huge new shopping complex known as Siam Paragon and CentralWorld on Rama I Road in Bangkok's city center are among the biggest and most luxurious malls in Southeast Asia. Bangkok also includes over 15 world class malls situated around Bangkok, mostly centered around Sukhumvit Road.


An elaborate network of canals known as khlongs gave Bangkok the nickname "Venice 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 district. Through downtown Bangkok runs the Khlong Saen Saeb, which has a canal boat service, the most extensive of which is the Chao Phraya Express Boat with as many as thirty stops along the both banks of the Saen Saeb. However, there are limitations as the further north the route is the farther apart the stations are, impeding the ability of this water taxi to function as a true mass transit system.

River and canals network
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 that they spend more than half their waking day on the streets on an open-air city bus.

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 Don Mueang Airport. Due to the Asian financial crisis construction was halted and the concrete pillars were left unused. Expatriates call them "Hopehenge," Hopeless, or Stonehenge.
For intercity travel by train, most passengers begin their trips at Hua Lamphong at the southern end of the MRT. Here, trains connect Bangkok to Malaysia in the south, Chiang Mai and beyond to the north, and Nong Khai and beyond to the northeast.

Rail systems
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 Thonburi area. For destinations in the southeast, such as Pattaya, Ko Samet and Ko Chang, buses leave from the Eastern Bus Terminal at Ekkamai. For all destinations north and northeast, the Northern Bus Terminal is at Mo Chit. Long distance bus service has become safer as drivers are changed and most no longer take methamphetamines such Ya Baa to stay awake, which often caused excessive speeding and passing on dangerous undivided roads. 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 service
Bangkok is one of Asia's most important air transport hubs. In 2005, more than ninety 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.


Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat
Chao Phraya Express Boat
Bangkok Noi Longtail Express Boat
Sathon-Khlong Toei Express Boat
Sathon-Wat Dao Khanong Express Boat (Under testing)
Sathon-Samut Prakarn Express Boat (Under testing)
Khlong Pasee Charoen Express Boat (Under new testing)
Khlong Lardprao Express Boat (Under new testing)
Khlong Prem Prachakhon Express Boat (Under new testing)
Khlong Padung Krungkasem Express Boat (Under new testing)
BTS or Bangkok Skytrain
MRT or Bangkok Metro
SRT or State Railway of Thailand
BRT (Bangkok) or Bus Rapid Transit
BTS Links
BMTA or Bangkok Bus
Suvarnabhumi Airport Link (Under construction) Transport network
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,

With more than five and a half million registered vehicles, 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 BRT Bangkok have eased some of the congestion along specific corridors, but have done to alleviate little for 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. However, with cooperation between the local government and the residents and the increase in new parks, gardens and open spaces around the city, today Bangkok has cleaner air quality than in the past.
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. Although in rural Thailand prostitution holds a strong stigma, in Bangkok locals, hotel workers, and officials often turn a blind eye towards such behavior and allow it to continue to flourish.

Current issues

Bangkok had been heralded for decades for the amount of free press coverage in Asia, but has seen a sharp decline of freedom since the Thaksin era and even moreso with the current military junta. There are large amounts of paparazzi magazines and fashion publications, 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. Five television stations operated and controlled by the government and the UBC cable operator are based in Bangkok. They broadcast a total of 50 channels to viewers with gold edition including many Thai television stations such as TITV, six sports channels, and Channel V, among others. There are more than 30 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.
There are a variety of ways to enjoy Bangkok through the performing arts. Clubs featuring jazz and other live music line major districts of town, Victory Monument, the entire BTS Sukhumvit line, and Phra Nakorn. Chalerm Krung Theater and the National Theater have been in operation since the early 20th century whereas the newer Thailand Cultural Center hosts a variety of plays and events.
The Bangkok Symphony Orchestra and Bangkok Opera are gradually earning recognition among international critics and regularly host performances of international performers. There is also a large number of "cafes", or nightclubs, which host comedy acts along Rama IX Road.
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.


Main article: List of museums and art galleries in Bangkok Arts
Bangkok offers a widely varied nightlife. Like nearby Pattaya, the city is notorious for some concentrations of massage parlours, go-go bars and karaoke places, with Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza being the main areas catering to male tourists. There are, however, many other venues available to enjoy other pursuits. 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 Phra Nakhon district is home to probably the most profound worldwide example of a "backpackers' ghetto", Khaosan Road. Sukhumvit Road boasts some of Asia's most crowded clubs along the 5 km section between Ekamai and Withayu.

Bangkok Nightlife
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 Fridays and Saturdays.
A good number of Bangkokians leave town on weekends to visit seaside resorts such as Hua Hin and Pattaya. Others return home to visit elderly relatives in Isan and the northern provinces. Bangkokian youth tend to stay within the city and use the weekends to relax. A good majority of them however, utilize Saturdays like their parents as a work day, visiting a large amount of extra learning centers open on Saturdays as well as private tutors. Saturday is somewhat considered a work day to a good number of 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 daily offers the monks who walk their neighbourhoods alms. Muslims are often either assimilated entirely by the Thai or live in remote parts of the city such as the Nong Chok district where tradition Thai Muslims still live.

Sister cities

Large Cities Climate Leadership Group

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