Bangkok is the capital and primary city of Thailand. It began as a small trading post and port community about 200 years ago. It has become a major force in finance and business after numerous multinational corporations moved their regional bases here in the 1980’s and 1990’s and up to now, Bangkok continues to increase its influence on global politics, culture, fashion and entertainment. It is the second most expensive city in South East Asia, second only to Singapore. Despite its rapid modernization, the glory of the past still prevails and is visited by millions of international tourists from around the world. Here are some of the most popular attractions in Bangkok.
The Grand Palace is the city’s most famous landmark and a visit to Bangkok will not be complete without going here. It was built in 1782 and has been the home of the King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government for 150 years. The intricate details and beautiful architecture continues to draw tourist and admire it. Today, the Grand Palace still serves as spiritual center of Thailand because within the complex lies the Wat Phra Kaew or The Temple of the Emerald Buddha which of course contains the revered Emerald Buddha. Thai Kings stopped living in the palace around the 1900’s but all ceremonies are still performed here. Behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha or Wat Pho. It is the largest temple in Bangkok and houses the majestic reclining Buddha. The Buddha measures 46 meters in length and is covered in gold leaf. Its 3 meter long feet are decorated with mother-of-pearl illustrations. Traditional Thai massage is also offered here.
There are several floating markets in Bangkok, the Damnoen Saduak, Taling Chan, Bang Khu Wiang and the Tha Kha floating market. Although these markets cater more to tourists than locals, the boats are still piled up high with fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and food that are cooked on the boat. The city is also known as the “Venice of the East”. Although many canals have been filled to make way for roads and prevent the spread of cholera, some still remains but these canals or khlongs are no longer used as avenues for trade. For a few bahts, tourists can still take a ride on boats and see old wooden houses laden with colorful flowers and old bridges. These rides can offer a glimpse of how people used to live. One just has to be careful of the spray of rancid water as boats speed forward.