Thai culture; an endless variety of good restaurants, clubs, international cultural and social events; movies in several languages; discos, heavy-metal pubs, folk cafes; and even modern-art galleries for those people seeking contemporary Krung Thep.
Although the modern metropolis now extends to the west side of the river, the original city of Bangkok and almost all its tourist sights lie on the east side of the Chao Phraya river. When the city was founded, a canal was dug around its original extents to make a defensible area now referred to as Rattanakosin Island. A wall and fortress defences originally protected the city. Some of the forts can still be seen today. This old royal precinct is where most of the major sights are, such as the Grand Palace, Wat Po and the National Museum.
Across the river is the old city of Thonburi, which existing long before Bangkok's founding. In fact, Thonburi was the capital of Siam for a short period before the new capital was established. One of the city's most recognizable landmarks, Wat Arun, is located in Thonburi.
To the north of the old royal precinct is the Banglampu area popular with budget travellers. Further north and slightly east is the Dusit district, where the royal family's current primary residence (Chitlada Palace) is located, near to the houses of parliament and the Dusit Zoo.
To the east along the river is the city's Chinatown district, called Yaowarat. Further east are the big riverside hotels set amid the oldest embassies and former trading houses of the west. Heading north away from the river at this point is Silom Road, home to many of the main tourist hotels as well as the city's most notorious "entertainment" area: Patpong. Still further north of Silom is the main shopping district centered on Siam Square, which includes Mahboonkrong (MBK) Center, Siam Discovery, Siam Center, World Trade Center, Narayanapand, Gaysorn Plaza, Amarin Plaza and Central Chidlom.
A little further north of the Siam Square area is the Pratunam, the city's garment district. Heading west from Siam Square is the Sukhumvit road area, home to many more tourist hotels, business hotels and entertainment areas.
Located in the centre of the country, straddling the banks of the Chao Phraya River and close to the Gulf of Thailand, the greater Bangkok Metropolis (including Thon Buri on the other side of the Chao Phraya River) covers an area of about 1,600 sq km. Bangkok is adjacent to Pathum Thani on its north, Nonthaburi on its northwest, Chachoengsao on its east, Samut Sakhon on its southwest, and Samut Prakan on its southeast.
Bangkok has an area of 1,568.737 sq km.
There are three seasons: rainy (from June to October), hot (from March to May), and cool (from November to February). The annual average temperature is about 29° C with the monthly averages ranging from 35° C in April to 26° C in December.
Bangkok is located in the basin of the Chao Phraya River and has no mountains. The land is crisscrossed with canals and rivers.
5,782,159 (end 2002). Most residents are ethnic Thais, with an estimated 25% of Chinese origin. Another large group of inhabitants is of Indian descent.
As the capital of the country, Bangkok is the centre of administration, commerce and communications. The city is divided into 50 districts (khet).
The standard Thai language is in use. English, a mandatory subject in public schools, is widely spoken and understood in business and tourist areas.
Bangkok is the centre of all kinds of goods, both domestic and imported.