The city of Bangkok was formally founded in 1782 with the consecration of the city’s founding pillar at Lak Muang. Rama I wanted his city to reflect the once glorious Ayuthaya, palaces were built with brick salvaged from this city and temples filled with Buddha’s from the ancient capital. It was at this time that the name was changed to Krung Thep, the first two syllables of a tongue-twisting name that is believed by the Guinness Book of Records to be the longest place name in the world and meaning ‘City of Angels.’ Thais still call the city by this name although foreign cartographers never ceased to name the city Bangkok. The city today is an exciting mixture of beautiful ancient Buddhist temples, golden royal palaces, riverside houses on stilts, traditional markets and a bustling modern city of skyscrapers and air-conditioned shopping malls.
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Top things to do in Bangkok
Cruise on the River of Kings
Travel by boat along the Chao Phraya river, the 'River of Kings', and discover Bangkok from a different perspective. Pass some of Bangkok's most significant riverside landmarks and observe life on this busy waterway, an important transport route for residents who travel about the city on a range of boats, ferries and water-taxis. Visit Wat Kanlayanamit, which was built in the reign of King Rama III with a combination of Thai and Chinese architectural styles; and Wat Rakhang, built in Ayutthaya period, with its beautiful Thai pavilion scripture hall.
Culinary Delights of Bangkok
Escorted by an expert local guide, discover the culinary highlights of Bangkok and learn how the residents of this exciting city, live, cook and eat. Visit Samyan market and meet locals on their morning shopping jaunts, learn about the ingredients used in Thai cooking and sample some tropical fruits. Stop by at the century-old Nanglerng food market, one of the oldest and most significant markets in inner Bangkok. Set in traditional wooden shophouses, the market offers insights into old Thai architectural styles as well as traditional Thai dishes. After a morning at the markets enjoy lunch at Bangkok City Hall and wrap up the meal with sarim, a popular Thai dessert made up of colourful thin vermicelli served in savoury coconut milk. Follow lunch with a visit to Thammasat University, and join the local students in sampling a wide array of tasty snacks and drinks sold by vendors surrounding the campus. For a different view of the city's cuisine visit the Yaowarat Road area, Bangkok's Chinatown, which is famed for the abundance of Chinese delicacies sold along the streets. End the day with the famous pad thai dish at Tipsamai Pad Thai, a restaurant that has been selling only this stir-fried noodle specialty for more than 60 years.
Full day tour to Ayutthaya
Discover the past splendour of the second capital of Siam at the Phra Nakon Sri Ayutthaya Historical Park, which protects the ruins of the old city and its various temples, shrines, statues. South of Ayutthaya is Bang Pa-In, the former royal summer residence of King Rama V, where the palace buildings contrast with the surrounding temples inspired by European, Chinese and Thai designs. Ayutthaya lies about an hour's journey north of Bangkok by private vehicle. For a leisurely journey back to Bangkok, join a cruise downstream on the Chao Phraya, the 'River of Kings'.
Markets of Bangkok
Mahachai fish market, one of the largest and most interesting fresh seafood markets in Thailand, is an ideal place to sample some of the produce from the many stalls and small restaurants that serve fresh fish, prawns, crab and other seafood cooked in Thai style. Visit the famous Mae Klong market, where stall holders and vendors have spilt over on to the railway tracks. When a siren indicates a train is approaching, the market traders prove remarkably adept at removing their stalls from the tracks, as they hold on to the poles supporting their awnings to make way for the train to pass. It is a tight squeeze as the train travelling at about 15mph almost touches the fruits, vegetables and everything else at the marketplace as it passes through. Once the train is gone, the vendors push back the stalls and awnings into position and everything goes back to normal as if nothing has happened, one of the stranger sights you will see on your journey. End your day at the Amphawa floating market. More traditional and much less visited by tourists than the more popular Damnoen Saduak, the market here allows for a more authentic insight to local life.
The Grand Palace of Bangkok
The Grand Palace, with its golden temples, pavilions and gardens, was the official residence of the King of Thailand from the 18th century until the mid-20th century. The construction began in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I, when he moved the capital across Chao Phraya River from Thonburi. Over time, the palace has been constantly expanded and many additional structures added. Today it is only used for state occasions and special events. Within the palace's extensive grounds is the most sacred and important of all Thai temples, the Wat Phra Kaew, or the 'Temple of the Emerald Buddha'. This temple contains the most revered Buddha image in the country, the Emerald Buddha, made from one solid piece of translucent green jade. The grounds also contain a model of Angkor Wat, added by King Rama III, since the Khmer empire of Cambodia and Thais shared cultural and religious roots.
WW2 history at the Bridge over the River Kwai
Discover second world war history at the infamous bridge over River Kwai and the Burma Railway near Kanchanaburi, west of Bangkok. Visit the moving Allied war cemeteries, where 6,982 Australian, Dutch and British war prisoners who lost their lives during the construction of the Death railway lie at rest. At the JEATH Museum – an acronym for the nations of Japan, England, Australia, Thailand and Holland – an Allied prisoner of war camp has been recreated, with photographs, documents and physical memorabilia documenting the building of the railway under harrowing conditions by Allied POWs. The Burma railway, was a 415km length of track between Bangkok and Rangoon built for the Japanese forces during the war. Closed in 1947, the section between Nong Pla Duk and Nam Tok was reopened 10 years later for the spectacular journey up to the end of the line at Nam Tok, close to the Burmese border. For a different perspective hike along the Memorial Walking Trail, from where there are views out to Burma. An audio guide is provided to help create the scene and to link the context and location with real life experiences narrated by prisoners of war who worked on the line. Nearby is the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, built and maintained by the Australian government and dedicated to the Allied prisoners of war and Asian labourers who suffered and died at Hellfire Pass and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region during the second world war.
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