Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and, with a population of over eleven million inhabitants, by far its largest city. Its high-rise buildings, heavy traffic congestion, intense heat and naughty nightlife may not immediately give you the best impression — but don't let that mislead you. It is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities with magnificent temples and palaces, authentic canals, busy markets and a vibrant nightlife that has something for everyone.
For years, it was only a small trading post at the banks of the Chao Phraya River, until King Rama I, the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, turned it into the capital of Siam in 1782, after the burning of Ayutthaya by Burmese invaders but they did not take over Ayutthaya. Since then, Bangkok has turned into a national treasure house and functions as Thailand's spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and diplomatic centre.
Bangkok is a huge and modern city humming with nightlife and fervour. Administratively, it is split up into 50 districts (เขต khet), which are further split into 154 subdistricts (แขวง khwaeng), but these are more often used in official business and for addresses. Visitors will find the conceptual division below of the main areas more useful for getting around.
The area around Siam Square, including Ratchaprasong and Phloen Chit Road, is Bangkok's modern commercial core, full of glitzy malls and hotels. The Skytrain intersection at Siam Square is the closest thing Bangkok has to a centre.
The long Sukhumvit Road is an exclusive district popular among expatriates and upper class locals. It is filled with quality hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. Part of its nightlife represents Bangkok's naughty image, particularly Soi Cowboy and Nana Entertainment Plaza.
The area around Silom Road and Sathorn Road is Thailand's sober financial centre by day, but Bangkok's primary party district by night when quarters like the infamous Patpong come alive.
Between the river and downtown lies the densely packed "Old Bangkok", home to Bangkok's best-known sights, such as the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
Khao San Road
On the northern part of Rattanakosin, Bangkok's backpacker mecca, Khao San Road and the surrounding district of Banglamphu have everything a budget traveller could possibly be looking for.
Yaowarat and Phahurat
Along Yaowarat Road you will find Bangkok's Chinatown, while Phahurat Road is the home of the city's sizable Indian community. This multicultural district is filled with temples, shrines, seafood restaurants and street markets.
This leafy, European-style area is the political centre of Thailand, home to numerous political institutions and the monarchy. Its breezy palaces, lush gardens and broad avenues give this district its distinct character.
The quieter west bank of the Chao Phraya River, consisting of several districts. Most visitors explore this side of Bangkok with a canal tour, at least taking in Wat Arun, the Royal Barges National Museum and one of the floating markets.
Pratunam is a large garment market with hundreds of fashion stores selling both retail and wholesale. It also includes Baiyoke Tower II and Victory Monument.
The area around Phahonyothin Road and Viphavadi Rangsit Road is a large suburb in northern Bangkok. In weekends, it is the best place to go hunting for bargains. The Chatuchak Weekend Market has more than 8,000 stalls selling anything and everything under the sun.
Since the completion of the metro line, Ratchadaphisek Road has developed into an entertainment mecca for the locals. The sois of "Ratchada" are popular clubbing spots, as is Royal City Avenue (RCA).
Along Ramkhamhaeng Road lies a vast residential area with big shopping malls and amusement parks (like Safari World). Each neighbourhood has its own distinct character, but Hua Mak and Bang Kapi stand out as lively areas with many students from the universities.
Lat Krabang is in proximity to Bangkok International Airport. In this area are many hotels, including some good budget ones, where they will do a pickup and return to Suvarnabhumi airport.It is not much of an entertainment area at all. Lat Krabang Airport Rail Link Station is at one end of Lat Krabang Road, and Lat Krabang Town at the other end. This is the first station out of the Airport.
Around Bangkok are the provinces of Nakhon Pathom to the west, Nonthaburi to the northwest, Pathum Thani to the north, Chachoengsao to the east, Samut Prakan to the southeast and Samut Sakhon to the southwest.