For many visitors to Bangkok the city appears to be wild, chaotic and totally unplanned. Many might be surprised to learn that there even is a City Planning Department. In fact the latest plan to tackle the city's many issues was released in 2020. But the city's first urban plan dates back to the founding of Bangkok in 1782. The founders of Bangkok had a plan that they believed would bring order and harmony to the new capital. Unfortunately this plan was unable to cope with the pressures of the nineteenth century, let alone provide guidance in the twenty-first. This is the story of the Mandala of Bangkok.
Thailand owes many of its most famous monuments to an Italian who arrived in Siam in 1923. This man's name was Corrado Feroci and he would dedicate the rest of his life to the arts in Thailand, even adopting a Thai name Silpa Bhirasri. Today we will take a tour around Bangkok to learn about Corrado Feroci and his most famous works, a tour which will also take us through some of Thailand's most momentous history.
Bangkok is famous for its canals or khlongs with tourist brochures promoting the city as having once been "The Venice of the East". In fact the history of Thailand's canals is older than Bangkok itself. The "Venice of the East" description was originally from the Portuguese explorer Fernão Mendes Pinto writing about Ayutthaya in the 1540's. But why were there so many canals, when were they built and why are they to blame for Bangkok's terrible traffic-jams today?
On 23rd October 1910 King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) at the age of 57 died. He had reigned over Siam for 42 remarkable years. His death was mourned throughout the nation and was reported around the world. The day is still remembered as an annual holiday in Thailand. But what exactly did he die of ?
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.
The iconic Art Deco style Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre in Bangkok, is a well known landmark built by King Prajadhipok (Rama VII). But the story of early cinema in Thailand and how it was that Thailand's king came to build a popular theatre is now largely forgotten.
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.
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.
Phra Pradaeng is a great place to escape from the city and for Siamrat one of the hidden treasures there is the pair of old temple buildings at Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nok.
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.
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.
Wat Yannawa on the banks of the Chao Phraya river is a peculiar temple dominated by a large concrete replica of a Chinese junk
Everybody associates Bangkok with its magnificent Buddhist temples, but along the Chao Phraya River are a series of beautiful Catholic churches
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.
Everyday thousands of tourists pass up and down the Chao Phraya river but few pay any attention to the decaying but still magnificent relic of Bangkok's 19th century Customs House
Putthamonthon is a public park west of Bangkok. Its centre piece is a graceful 15.87 metre tall Buddha statue.
King Chulalongkorn considered the building of bridges so important he funded the construction of a bridge each year to celebrate his birthday.