You’ll never hear locals call the city `Bangkok`. They call it `Krung Thep`, meaning `The city of angels` in memory of the fallen against the Burmese in 1782, when they forced the royal family to move from Ayutthaya to the area where now Bangkok is.
It was the beginning of the Chakry Dinasty and the first King, Rama I, ordered the construction of the Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Kaew, the symbols of the new ruling power and today the main attractions and spiritual centre of the city.
This area now is named Rattanakosin. Going to Bangkok without stepping inside the Grand Palace is a big mistake – with its thousand colours temples, the Grand Palace is a wonder worth of a day long visit. If you are passionate about history and architecture, there is much more to discover in Bankgok, from temples to private historic buildings and palaces.
A picturesque and traditional view of the city can be enjoyed along the Chao Phraya River; renting a high speed river taxi or a long tail boat, you can discover colourful city markets and villages.
A special and rather more comfortable way to explore the city from the river is to take a luxury cruise. We recommend doing it in the afternoon, so to end the tour with a fine dinner on board at the city candlelight, listening to live jazz music.
The east side of Bangkok, in particular Sukhumvit and Silom areas, are permeated by the atmosphere that belongs to modern Asian cities. This part of the city is dotted by skyscrapers, luxurious shopping malls, high-end hotels with rooftop pools and clubs hosting Thailand’s famous nightlife.
Polluted and chaotic, but also attractive and seductive, modern Bangkok represents the miracle of Thailand development, and it is definitely a compulsory stop for business men having affairs in the rest of the country. Full of contradictions and contrasts, you need to leave preconceived ideas at home in order to enjoy it, especially at night when another Bangkok shows up in the bars, from the high class ones to the go-go bars and red-light districts.
Only a one or two days’ trip away from Bangkok lays another world: here you can begin a journey into the past. Many start by visiting Bang Pa Summer Palace, a former Royal retreat, interesting for its strange mixture of Thai and western architecture and for the wonderful lake and garden surrounding it.
Going further north lays the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. This area is strewn with Wat ruins and with numerous temples, a Unesco heritage architecture, A visit to Ayutthaya can be arranged by car or by river cruise.