Thailand in Brief
This chapter in the Bangkok Guide contains detailed information on these topics:
||The Royal Family
|Geography - Regions
||Demographics - Language & Religion
|Customs & Etiquette
|Weights & Measures
|National Holidays & Festivals
|Government & Administration
||Bangkok - Orientation & Administration
Thailand - with its natural beauty, fascinating culture and friendly people - has long been one of the world’s top tourist destinations. The country is seen as the gateway to Indochina, Myanmar (Burma) and southern China and has never been colonised by a foreign power. In a region that has seen its fair share of war and political turmoil, Thailand has maintained relatively good relations with neighbouring countries (Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Laos) and enjoyed a comparatively peaceful and prosperous history. This stability, as well as the country’s strategic geographic location, makes Thailand a leading partner in the region’s trade and politics, often providing a vital economic and political link between neighbouring South-East Asian nations.
The city of Bangkok is Thailand’s political, commercial, industrial and cultural capital. Situated on the mouth of the Chao Phraya River, it is also the seat of Thailand’s revered Royal Family. Bangkok was established as the capital of Thailand in 1782 and became known as the ‘Venice of the East’ because of the intricate network of winding canals (khlongs) that made up the city. It was along these waterways, lined with stilt houses, that the day-to-day life of the city ebbed and flowed. Evidence of this traditional lifestyle can still be seen today. Despite its transformation over the years into a modern, cosmopolitan metropolis, Bangkok remains a city of dramatic contrasts and one that has retained its unique Thai character. While the pace is frenetic and constant, if you listen carefully you can still hear the tinkle of temple bells and the gentle rattle of food bowls in the early morning, as saffron-robed monks move quietly around the streets. Despite an ever-growing jungle of towering sky scrapers, it is the majestic gold stupas of the Buddhist temples that dominate the skyline.
This chapter provides you with a history of Thailand, the events leading to Bangkok becoming its’ capital and all of the information that is useful and of interest to both visitors and Bangkok residents alike.