Think you’ve heard all there is to know about Thailand’s colourful capital? From the world’s largest Chinatown to Redbull, we’ll bet you haven’t heard some of these interesting facts about Bangkok before.
Interesting facts about Bangkok
1. It has the longest name for a capital city in the world…
No, it’s not ‘Bangkok’. Locally, Bangkok is known as ‘Krungthep’ or… “krungthepmahanakhonamonrattanakosinmahintharaayuthayamahadilokphopnoppharatratchathaniburiromudomratchaniwetmahasathanamonpimanawatansathitsakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit”. It is 168 characters long and has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The shortened version is “krungthephphramahanakhon bowonratanakosin mahintharayuthaya mahadilokphiphobnovpharad radchataniburirom udomsantisug”. In its most scholarly translation, it means City of angels, the great city of immortals, the magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest.
Just a little wordy.
2. It’s nicknamed the ‘Venice of the East’
Alright, so at least 15 countries claim to be the Venice of the East, but Bangkok is a worthy contender. Years ago, khlogs (or canals) crisscrossed most of the city. While most of them have been reclaimed, you can still use some of them today. In fact, rivers and canals are often the quickest way to travel. Just hop on a river bus, canal bus or rent a river taxi (long tail boat) to see how the city got its moniker.
3. Bangkok is home to the world’s largest china town
Bangkok Chinatown, known locally as Yaowarat, is the largest Chinatown in the world. Founded in 1782, the area was home to large waves of Chinese immigrants who soon became the city’s dominant ethnic group. The market originally centred around Sampheng, but most of its core now stretches along Yaowarat Road. It’s crammed full of cafes, street food stalls, bakeries and markets.
It’s also home to the largest gold buddha. The 5.5-tonne Buddha lives inside Wat Traimit. It sat hidden under plaster for hundreds of years and authorities only discovered what was inside when they dropped it.
4. Every single temple depicted on the Thai Baht is in Bangkok
Bangkok is home to three of the country’s most famous temples: Wat Pra Kaew, Wat Arun and Wat Pho. But that’s not it, there are over 400 wats (temples) dotted across the city in total. So many, in fact, that Thai currency only depicts those located in Bangkok. You can hop around them all in one day too.
5. Bangkok is the world’s hottest city
6. Red Bull started life in Bangkok
It’s the world’s most famous energy drink, poured down the throats of revision-packing students and ravers all over the world. But few people know where it actually originated. Chaleo Yoodvidhya, born to poor Chinese immigrant parents in the northern province of Phichit, moved to Bangkok to work as an antibiotics salesman. He launched his own pharmaceutical company, TC Pharmaceuticals, in the early 1960s, during which time he first developed his energy-boosting beverage. The drink’s can, introduced in 1976, depicted two huge, red bulls charging each other. In 1984, Austrian salesman Dietrich Mateschitz found it cured his jet lag and the rest, as they say, is history.
Chaleo Yoovidhya became the third richest man in Thailand and at his death in 2012 he was worth an estimated USD 5 billion.
7. The Royal Anthem plays at the start of every movie and performance
Known in Thai as “Sansoen Phra Barami”, the royal anthem pays respect to the king of Thailand. It’s no longer the national anthem, but it does still play before movies, plays and concerts, as well as any state events and functions.
The more upbeat national anthem, “Phleng Chat”, plays twice a day at 8 am and 6 pm. You’ll need to stop and stand as soon as you hear the melody — it’s not just poor form, it’s actually illegal.