Bangkok is one the most popular places for international tourists. Why is to so popular? The questions can only be answered once you have visited the place yourself and have seen it first hand.
My personal analysis is that Thailand is one country, which provides all the five star services at affordable prices. Besides, it’s night life has so much to offer4 for all age groups, depending if you are visiting with family or alone.
Thailand is an amazing country. If you are looking for a unique experience, Thailand won’t disappoint you. It’s true that as time has passed by, many old and ancient things have disappeared. But new and exciting things have always come along to replace them.
The city life with its hustle and bustle is more than evident in Bangkok and if you are looking for some peace and tranquility, you can head towards beach resorts like Pattays, Phuket or the exotic island of Koh Sumai which offers all the sea sports like para sailing, sky diving and scuba diving.
Thailand has a 800-year long history. Over a period of times, Thailand has fashioned its own unique identity and presented it to the world in its own distinctive ways: through culture and traditions, arts and architecture. Throughout its history, the country has shown its ability to absorb foreign influence without losing its identity. Proof of this can be seen in the countless historical sites spread throughout the kingdom. With two Unesco-listed historical World Heritage Sites and many more potential candidates, the country has made great contribution to international culture heritage.
Thailand has a rich royal heritage spanning several centuries. Many royal palaces in Bangkok and elsewhere in the country offer a fascinating glimpse of the majesty and splendour of the Thai monarchy. Some would say it is a country in transition. That’s definitely true, as Thailand has admirably demonstrated its ability to adapt to the new world order. Traditionally, Thailand is an agricultural country but from the mid1980s the country rapidly transformed into an agro industrial economy. In the 1990s it continued to develop as per the demands of globalization.
Although Thailand is a modern international society, its people have succeeded in retaining their national identity in many ways. The two most important elements that bring uniqueness to Thailand are the people’s undisputed adherence to the monarchy and their strong faith in Buddhism, Outsiders may find it difficult to comprehend such unbending faith, but it seems that almost all Thai people have inherited this in their blood, from generation to generation.
The bustling city of Bangkok is an eclectic mix of the old and the new. Yet it’s cultural identity is as strong as ever.
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, lies close to the mouth of the Chao Phraya River at the century of a fertile alluvial plain. Bangkok ranks 68th in size out of the country’s 76 provinces, but has the greatest population density of any province. Formerly known as the “Venice of the East”, Bangkok is criss-crossed by a network of natural and manmade canals were the only means of transport in the past.
The Thais know Bangkok, from the original settlement of Ban Makok or “Village of Wild Olives”, as Krung Thep, which means “City of Angels”. The city is subject to a tropical monsoon climate with three distinct seasons. The cool season, generally considered the best time to visit, lasts from November to February.
The present ruler of the country, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history with more than 50 years on the throne, is one of the most revered kings in modern times. The unprecedented outpouring of public pride and personal affection witnessed at celebrations for His Majesty’s 72nd birth anniversary in 1999 were ample demonstration of the respect and adoration that the Thai people have for their king.
December 5, the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is regarded as Thailand’s National Day and is a public holiday. In Bangkok, the area around Sanam Luang is closed to traffic and turns into a huge festival, with food and drinks stalls, and thousands of celebrants jamming the streets. Firework displays are organized in many parts of Bangkok and nationwide.
Buddhism also played an important role when the country was plunged into economic recession in mid 1997. Many were able to draw strength and calmness from Buddhism in coping with hardships. The religion practiced by most people in Bangkok is Buddhism, a way of living based on the Tripitaka, an ancient Pali script of Lord Buddha’s teachings. Religion, along with monarchy and nationhood, is regarded as one of the three strengths of the nation, and is represented on the Thai flag by the color white.
For any visitor wishing to get a quick feel of the Thai people and culture, there’s no better place to go than a temple. The temple or monastery, colloquially known as “wat”, is where much of Thailand’s traditional culture originated.
The belief in the supernatural power of the unseen and unproven phenomena is in Thai blood. Even though most Thais are followers of Buddhism, Thai people also pay respect to icons and symbolic figures of holy spirits.
As a tourist, there are many sites, which you should not miss if you are visiting for the first time. The newest and most romantic ways of traveling include the joining of hands between BTS sky train through which you can miss the chaotic traffic with Bangkok’s biggest public water transportation provider, called The Chao Pyhraya Tourist Boat. The boat takes you a quite a few of the main tourist sites by traveling on the Chao Phraya River.
The Chao Phraya River is regarded as the principal artery of the nation. Much of Thai history can be traced along the banks of this river. The most poplular tourist site is the Grand Palace, which is also known as the jewel in the crown of Bangkok. A trip to view the palace’s gilded spires, majestic palaces and exotic pagodas is an unforgettable experience. It was built in 1782 at the same time as Wat Phra Kaeo to act as the official residence of the king.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, located in a separate complex within the compund of the Grand palace, is Thailand’s holiest shrine. Officialy named Wat Phra Si Rattanasatsadaram, the temple complex was modelled along the same lines as grand chapels form the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya eras. No monks reside within the temple.
The Emerald Buddha was first discovered at Wat Phra Kaeo in Chiang Rai province in the year 1434, when a bolt of lightning struck a pagods, revealing a small and seemingly insignificant stucco Buddha image. After many years, the plaster began to crumble away, revealing the beautiful green jade image beneath. When the king of Chiang Mai heard of the discovery, he sent an army of elephants to take the image. The elephant carrying the treasure refused to take the route back to Chiang Mai, instead headed south towards Lampang.
When you visit these palaces and temples the most noticeable aspect, which strikes you, is it’s Thai architecture. Thai architectural style is unique and very memorable. But what is often simply referred to today as “traditional Thai architecture”, has in actual fact taken over seven centuries to fully evolve and develop. Most noticeable in Thai architecture are the swooping multi-tiered rooflines, the distinctly ornamental decorations, the stunning interior murals; the vivid colors and the lovingly crafted and gold adorned Buddha images.
Traditional Thai architecture is the result of a combination of many different styles, methods and influences. At various stages down the years, the cultures of Burma, China, Khmer, India and Sri Lanka, can all be seen to have had an important and distinctive influence on architecture in Thailand. Most recently even western neoclassical styles and features have been adopted, following visits to Europe by early Thai kings and from the European expatriate’s presence in Thailand. Nevertheless, overall the architectural style remains instantly identifiable and unquestionably Thai. As a first time tourist, one of the most captivating features which truly fascinated me were the floating markets in and around Bangkok which offer you a glimpse of the traditional Thai way of life. Small wooden boats laden with fruits, flowers, vegetables and other produce from nearby orchards and communities make a colorful and bustling scene at market time. The boats are inevitably paddled by Thai women in blue farmer’s garb (mor hom) and flat-topped conical hats called “Muakngob” which are characteristic to all parts of Thailand.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, 80kms southwest of Bangkok in Ratchaburi province, is one of the largest and most popular floating markets among tourists. Also known as Klong Lat Phli Floating Market by the locals, the market is active in the mornings only, from 6am to 11am. You will see loads of women of all ages with their merchandise making their way in their boats.
If you are a first time traveler then you must visit the Rose Garden where you can enjoy Thai cultural shows including various types of Thai dances, Thai boxing, Thai wedding, and Buddhist processions. The dances include the Finger Nail Dance and Nothern Hill tribe dance etc.
Also mesmerizing and breathtakingly dangerous was the visit to a snake farm where we witnessed a fight between a cobra and a mongoose and were made to hold and feel huge cobras for good luck. The Snake Farm or Queen Sawoapha Memorial Institute, is set up to produce anti-venom serum for snake-bite victims nationwide. Venomous snakes including the king cobra, Siamese cobra, Russell’s viper, banded krait, Malayan pit viper, green pit viper and Pope’s pit viper are milked daily for their venom to make snake-bite antidote. Venommilking and snake handling shows are held daily.
To get a feel of the art and history of Thailand and Southeast Asia, the National Museum on Na Phra That Road is the best place to visit. The museum houses one of the largest collections in Southeast Asia with all periods and styles of Buddhist and Thai art represented. The museum buildings themselves are of historic interest; build as a palace for Prince Wang Na in 1782, the year of the founding of Bangkok. The palace was converted into Thailand’s first museum around a century later, during the region of King Rama V.
Perhaps the most important artifact in the museum is the Phra Buddha Sihing, one the country’s revered Buddha images. Though to be a Sukhothai or Chiang Saen period image, the gold-plated bronze statue was probably brought to Bangkok by King Rama I in 1795. The image, in the attitude of meditation, is housed in the 18th century Buddhaisawan Chapel, which displays classic Rattanakosin style architecture and some of the best surviving mural paintings from the period.
Last but not least, especially for the ladies, Bangkok is an affordable place for us to shop. Beautiful malls, colorful night markets and the elaborate weekend market, Beautiful bags, shoes, slippers, candles, jewelry, and clothes with and without designer labels are easily available.
And if you are a flower lover, it is worth visiting the enthrallingly beautiful flower market where you can buy a wide variety of orchids and bamboos, used by most Thais as a good luck symbol.