With a population over eight million people, Bangkok is found in central Thailand, on the southeast of the continent of Asia.
Bangkok is a popular destination with western travellers, whose holidays can be spent exploring Thailand and the surrounding countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia. The city's rise to world prominence can largely be attributed to the huge urban population and the massive amounts of economic investment that the city experienced in the '70s, '80s and '90s. The 'Tiger Economies' which are around Thailand gained real recognition particularly in the '80s as potential rivals to western economic hegemony, before slowing down in the mid-90s. Thailand is seen as a Tiger Cub Economy for now, in the sense that the boom will really happen for them in the future.
Thailand formerly went by the name of Siam, and in the 15th century Siam began to see trade links emerge with wealthy merchants and the Chinese. Bangkok was right on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand with the Chao Phraya River running into the city, making it an important harbour for trade.
The population of Bangkok rose from just over two million in 1960 to just over eight million in 2010; the sudden growth can be attributed to urban regeneration, rural poverty and economic success.
For the tourist there is an abundance of attractions in Bangkok. There is obviously the bustling neon streets packed with life and amenities, and then there is the more tranquil side of life with the majestic Buddhist temples.
Wat Arun is probably the most popular of all the temples and the most recognisable due to its arresting spire which brilliantly reflects the rays of the rising sun each day. Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha) is also very popular along with Wat Phra Kaew which can be found next to the Grand Palace.
Few cities can offer such a wealth of spiritual history alongside a bustling and vibrant modern metropolis. Cities like Bangkok can be overwhelming with such contrasting characteristics and its frenzied pace of life. For those wanting to witness a more authentic side of the city, many of the handbooks will point to districts like Banglamphu where you'll find most of those temples and palaces.
Many visitors opt to take boat trips up the Chao Phraya in order to survey the scene from an area of comparative calm, although the MRT subway service is often recognised as one of the best in the world for its cleanliness, cost and all round efficiency.
Last updated: 14 March 2014