According to carswers, the history of Bangkok is relatively short if you compare it with that of other Asian metropolises. Its origins as the capital go back to 1772, because in that year it was General Taksin (1734 – 1782) who made the small town of Thonburi on the Chao Phraya River into his new capital after the former capital Ayutthaya in the war against Burma in 1767 (today Myanmar) was devastated.
Taksin died in 1782. His successor, King Rama I (1737-1809), the first king of the Chakri dynasty, which is still ruling today, began moving the seat of government to the eastern bank of the Chao-Phraya in the same year. This is how Bangkok’s history as the actual capital of Siam began. The Rattanakosin area was expanded to become the capital under Rama I and architecturally followed the former capital Ayuttaya.
There was a small village in Rattanakosin where mainly Chinese people lived. This village was called Bang Kok (“Wild Plum Village”). In the course of time, the village name Bang Kok became more and more popular with traders and travelers. This is how the small village gave its name to today’s metropolis.
Initially, Bangkok had an official name that was in the Guinness Book of Records due to its length. It was Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit, but it was abbreviated as Krung Thep, which means the city of angels. The area of Rattanakosin gradually became an artificial island and soon housed the (new) royal palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, the (new) royal temple. Both are now among the landmarks of Bangkok.
The channels (khlongs) have unfortunately become rare these days. At that time (and up to the middle of the 20th century) they crossed the city in large numbers, so that everyday life – like in European Venice – took place on the water. There were only a few streets, so that even market life was determined by the khlongs: At that time, the so-called floating markets emerged.
Road construction began in the 19th century: most of the khlongs were filled in by the middle of the 20th century. The completion of the first paved road is documented for 1863, and many more were to follow. The railroad ran in the following years and connected Bangkok with northern Thailand. Under King Rama V (1868-1910) an extensive network of trams and a large number of government buildings were added.
In 1932 the first bridge in Bangkok was completed. This “Memorial Bridge” led over the Chao-Phraya and showed how far the city grew beyond its previous borders to the east and west. The turmoil of the Second World War did not leave Bangkok alone. For example, Japan occupied the city for five years as part of their Asian conquests, but had to leave again due to the Allied bombing in 1944.
The late 1960s saw impressive population growth and tremendous construction. Countless new houses and various highways through the city were built. In the 1980s this movement culminated in the massive construction of high-rise buildings. This economic boom collapsed at the end of the 1980s, and the city has now been able to consolidate again.
Bangkok: special features, events
Celebrations and events
Queen’s Birthday (August 12)
This national holiday is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of Queen Sirikits, wife of the reigning King Bhumibol. The streets around the Royal Palace are lovingly decorated and illuminated on this day.
Birthday of the king (December 5th)
Various festive events commemorate the birth of King Bhumibol.
Day (May 5th) This day commemorates the coronation of the currently reigning Thai King Bhumibols and his wife Queen Sirikits. The festivities take place in Wat Phra Kaeo, the king’s wat.
New Years Day (January 1st)
Every year on New Year’s Day there is a veritable migration of peoples from Bangkok to the province. City transportation should be avoided a few days before and a few days after. Actually only the 1st of January is free, but most of the time there is no work on the 2nd either.
Plowing Ceremony (May)
This ceremony takes place in the middle of May on the Phramane grounds by the Old Royal Palace and each year attracts farmers from all over Thailand.
This three-day festival, also known as the “water festival”, represents the Thai New Year festival and captivates with the carnival atmosphere and happy water fights on the streets of the city. Even during this most famous Thai folk festival, there is a real migration out of the city.
Visakha Bucha (Mai)
It is the most important and greatest celebration of Buddhism in Bangkok and commemorates the miraculous birth of Buddha. Visakha Bucha takes place on the Sanam Luang and in Wat Phra Keo. Elaborately decorated carriages move through the streets of the city in large numbers and transport Buddha statues that reflect the life of the Buddha. The goal of the parade is the Royal Palace.