Wang Derm – Bangkok’s Original Palace

Bangkok's Grand Palace is one of the world's most visited tourist attractions with millions of visitors each year. But just across the Chao Phraya River is an older palace which attracts very little attention. Wang Derm or The Original Palace was the palace built in 1767 by King Taksin when he decided to establish Thonburi as the new capital of Siam.

Champasak – The Tragic Kingdom of Southern Laos

The town of Champasak in southern Laos is small and neglected. But within the grounds of an unremarkable looking Buddhist temple in the town centre are the funeral stupas of two kings. For this was once the capital of an important kingdom that held sway over central and southern Laos parts of Vietnam and Cambodia as well as Ubon Ratchathani, Sisaket and Roi Et in modern Thailand. The story of Champasak is one of tragic downfall which some believe was caused by powerful curses upon the ruling families.

The Day King Chulalongkorn Met Queen Victoria

In 1897 King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) embarked upon his first grand tour of Europe to meet with the ruling families and heads of state of Europe, meetings which are still widely remembered through popular articles and photographs to this day. But one of the most important meetings seems also to be one of the least remembered, that being his meeting with Queen Victoria.

The Little Lost Train of Laos

Hidden away in the very far south of Laos is a small railway engine that survives from one hundred years ago to tell the story of colonialist dreams of connecting Laos with the rest of the world.

Madness and Mayhem – Bangkok’s Fast & Furious Number 8 Bus

Buses are the most heavily used public transport in Bangkok but often they are badly neglected and services are often poor. One route in particular has become so notorious for not just poor service but the cause of death, destruction and mayhem on Bangkok's streets that it has become an icon in popular culture. That is the infamous "Fast and Furious" Bus Route 8.

Thais and Telescopes – The Remarkable History of Astronomy in Thailand

In late 1608 a small news pamphlet described the arrival at The Hague of the first ever Ambassadors from Siam. This same pamphlet also described a peculiar demonstration at The Hague of a device whereby "one could see far-off things as if they were nearby". By chance the Siamese ambassadors had arrived to witness the invention of the telescope and start a long lasting connection with Siam and telescopes.

Memorial Bridge – A Witness to Bangkok’s History

Opened with great pomp and ceremony in 1932 Memorial Bridge was the first road bridge built across the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok. Nearly ninety years later it is just one of many much larger bridges now crossing the river but no others have stood through the immense changes and historic events that Memorial Bridge has seen in those years.

Thailand’s Gingerbread Houses

In the mid-nineteenth century growing European influence in Siam resulted in a new style of architecture for wealthy families called "gingerbread". One hundred years later many of these old homes are being restored to their former glory.

The Remarkable History of the Portuguese in Thailand

These days the community of Westerners resident in Thailand is dominated by British, Americans, Germans, French or Scandinavians. But in fact the western community with by far the longest history in Thailand is the Portuguese who first arrived in 1511 some one hundred years before any other European nation.

Siam or Thailand ?

On 11th May 1949 Radio Bangkok announced to the world that from that day on Siam would be known as Thailand. But in fact this was the second time this name change had occurred within ten years and the change was not particularly popular. So why the change?

Thailand’s Greatest Heroines

As any visitor to Thailand quickly discovers, this country has a deep culture and history replete with miraculous tales of heroic deeds. Quite a few of these tales involve strong women who through bravery and sometimes a bit of powerful magic overcome adversaries and save the people from certain destruction.

Following the Journey of the Emerald Buddha

The Emerald Buddha is the most venerated Buddha image in all of Thailand and is the highlight for many of the 8 Million visitors to the Grand Palace each year. But few of these visitors consider where this sacred image originated from or are aware of the journey travelled by the Emerald Buddha prior to being installed within the Grand Palace

The Italians Who Built Bangkok

Western tourists flock to Bangkok every year drawn by the spectacle of glittering exotic temples.  But some might notice that many of the other grand old buildings appear to be of European style, betraying the influence once held by Italians in early Bangkok.

The Crouching Tiger Guns of Paknam

At Phra Chulachomklao Fortress a visitor can see the formidable British guns that were intended to protect the route to Bangkok and learn about the "Paknam Incident" of 1893 when France nearly took over Siam as a colony.

Bangkok Protestant Cemetery

Hidden away on the banks of the Chao Phraya river lies the small but serenely peaceful Protestant Cemetery where rest some of the European and American settlers that helped shape modern Bangkok.

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