fun and interesting Bangkok facts

110 Fascinating Facts About Bangkok

Bangkok, one of the world’s great cities, is famous for its vibrant temples, notorious traffic jams, and wild nightlife. Find out what else the “Sin City of Asia” is known for with these fun and interesting facts about Bangkok. Also, read these fun facts about Phuket, Thailand’s largest island!

General Bangkok Facts

  • Bangkok is the capital and largest city in Thailand.
  • Bangkok is located in Central Thailand, slightly inland from the Bay of Bangkok on the Gulf of Thailand.
  • Thailand is shaped like an elephant, with its long trunk hanging down (the Malay Peninsula). Bangkok sits right where the elephant’s mouth would be.
  • The city sits at the same latitude as Chennai, India and Saint Lucia, an island nation in the Caribbean.
  • It is antipodal (on the opposite side of the world) to Lima, Peru.  
  • Bangkok city has an official population of 10.5 million. This makes it the 3rd largest city in Southeast Asia by population, after Jakarta, Indonesia and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, but ahead of Hanoi, Vietnam.
  • Every day, an additional 1 million people enter Bangkok city from the suburbs for work.
  • The Greater Bangkok area has a population of 14.6 million. This includes 5 provinces that surround the city: Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Nakhom Pathom, and Nonthaburi.
Buildings in downtown Bangkok at night
Urban jungle in Bangkok
  • Bangkok is the 33rd largest city in the world by population, between Lima, Peru and Seoul, South Korea.
  • Bangkok has 50 districts, which are further subdivided into 180 subdistricts. Only one district, Bang Khun Thian district, reaches all the way to the coast.
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in Bangkok was 105.4°F (40.8 °C) in 1983, while the lowest was 49.8°F (9.9°C) in 1955.
  • Bangkok boasts the world’s longest official city name (168 letters): “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”.
  • Many Thai people can say the whole thing thanks to a 1989 Thai rock song (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon by Asanee–Wasan), which repeats the name throughout the song.
A driver stands beside his tuk tuk on a street in Bangkok
Bangkok’s ubiquitous tuk tuks
  • The name, which has roots in the Pali and Sanskrit languages of ancient India, means “City of angels, great city of immortals, 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.”
  • This is often shortened to “Krung Thep Maha Nakhon”, which is considered the official city name, or more commonly, just “Krung Thep,” which means “city of angels” (just like Los Angeles!)
  • The English name “Bangkok” comes from the name of a small trading community in the area before the city was developed. It was called Bang Makok, which means “place of olive plums”.
  • Bangkok’s nicknames have included “Sin City of Asia”, “Venice of the East”, and “The Big Mango”. Since “Bangkok” is not the official city name, this could also be considered a nickname.
The official Bangkok city flag
The city flag of Bangkok
  • Tourism slogans for Bangkok have included “City of Angels, built by angels, central city of governance, brilliant temples and palaces, the capital of Thailand”; “As built by deities, the administrative center, dazzling palaces and temples, the capital of Thailand”; and “Bangkok, glorious as if created by angels, the administration centre, beautiful temples, glittering palaces, the capital of Thailand”.
  • People from Bangkok are called Bangkokians. In Thai, they are called Khon Krung, or “city people.”
  • Bangkok’s city flag shows the city’s seal on a green background. The seal has the Hindu god Indra riding an elephant. It is based on a painting by former Thai prince Narisara Nuwattiwong.
  • Bangkok has 36 sister cities, including Washington D.C. (USA), Moscow (Russia), Beijing (China), Tehran (Iran), and Milan (Italy).

Interesting Facts about Bangkok Places

  • Chatuchak Market is considered the world’s largest weekend market. It has more than 15,000 stalls and sees over 200,000 visitors every weekend.
  • The Grand Palace has been the official residence of the Thai king since 1782. It includes numerous temples and is one of the city’s top attractions. Because of the moats and canals build around it, it is actually on an island called Rattanakosin Island.
From from above of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, with orange sky above
The Grand Palace
  • The most important temple in the Grand Palace is Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of Emerald Buddha. The Emerald Buddha is the most important in the country, and the welfare of the nation is thought to depend on it. It is actually made of jasper, not jade, a common misconception.
  • Legend has it that the Emerald Buddha was made in India and came to Northern Thailand via Sri Lanka. From 1552 to 1779, the statue was in the possession of Laos, until King Rama I captured Vientiane and brought it back.
  • Next door to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho houses one of the country’s largest reclining Buddhas, 46 m (151 ft) long and 15 m (49 ft) tall. It has a brick core, golden exterior, and mother-of-pear inlaid into the soles of its feet.
  • Wat Pho is also considered the country’s first university and is known for its traditional Thai massage school. Over 200,000 Thai massage therapists have trained there and taken their skills around the world.
  • The Golden Buddha houses in Wat Traimit is estimated to be worth 250 million USD. It is 3 m (9.8 ft) tall and weighs 5.5 tons. It’s body is 40%, head is 80%, and hair is 99% pure gold.
Some piles of Thai coins showing some Bangkok temples on them
The temples on Thai coins are all in Bangkok
  • Bangkok is home to all four of the temples backside of a Thai baht coins: Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Saket, Wat Benjamabophit, and Wat Arun.
  • Bangkok was once called the “Venice of the East” for its numerous canals. They were originally built as moats around the Grand Palace, but as they expanded they were also used for irrigation and transportation. Many have been filled in to make streets and drainage systems, but some remain in place today.
  • Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is the most famous of several floating markets around Bangkok, although it is technically in Ratchaburi, just outside of the Greater Bangkok area. Mostly for tourists, it has been in several films, such as The Man with the Golden Gun and Bangkok Dangerous.
  • Around 40,000 people also ride river taxis on the Chao Phraya river every day, which helps to avoid the city’s famous traffic jams.
  • Khaosan Road is the legendary backpackers’ road and district of Bangkok. Its name means “milled rice” and it may use to have been a rice market street. It is famous for its mini-sized hotel rooms, partying, and tens of thousands of visitors per day. It is this quintessential backpackers’ ghetto.
Crowds of people on Khao San Road in Bangkok at night
Khao San Road, the backpackers’ ghetto
  • Although prostitution is technically illegal, Bangkok has long been known for its sex tourism, many red light districts, massage parlors, ladyboy shows, and “ping pong shows”. Soi Cowboy, Nana Plaza, Patpong, and Soi Twilight (Soi Pratuchai) are the most famous ones.
  • The tallest completed building in Bangkok is Magnolia’s Waterfront Residences Iconsiam, which has 70 floors and stands 1,043 ft (318 m) tall.
  • Other iconic buildings and landmarks in Bangkok include Elephant Tower, King Power Mahanakhon, The Democracy Monument, Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Dusit Palace, the Giant Swing, Vimanmek Mansion, and Baiyoke Tower II.
  • Bangkok’s Chinatown is one of the largest in the world, not a major surprise considering that 10-14% of Thai people have some Chinese ancestry. Officially, there are over 70,000 Chinese living in Bangkok.
Motorcycles driving past the many Chinese and Thai signs in Bangkok's Chinatown
Bangkok’s huge Chinatown
  • Songkran, the New Year’s Water Festival, is celebrated with much enthusiasm in Bangkok, especially around Silom and Khao San Roads, where huge water fights take place on the street.
  • Three of the world’s top-10 largest shopping malls are in Bangkok: Central Plaza WestGate, centralwORLD, and ICONSIAM.
  • Just down the street from centralwORLD, Siam Square is a collection of huge, interconnected malls, including Siam Square One, Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, and MBK Center.
  • Bangkok’s Siam Hotel is often considered one of the top-10 city hotels in the world. It’s gym is sometimes used by the Thai royal family.
  • Bangkok’s taxis come in a variety of bright colors, including pink, blue, green and yellow.
  • There are nearly 10,000 registered tuk tuks in Bangkok.

Bangkok Economy and Society Facts

  • Bangkok received 22.78 million tourists in 2019, making it the most visited city in the world. (Some lists put it second to Hong Kong, which received 29.26 million, but it is a “Special Administrative Region” rather than a city).
  • Following COVID, Bangkok has not yet recovered, receiving around 11.5 million visitors in 2022. It is no longer in the top-10.
Exterior of Suvarnabhumi Airport in the evening
Suvarnabhumi Airport, opened in 2006
  • In 2019, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport received 63.38 million passengers, 21st most in the world and 10th most in Asia. In 2022, that number was only 17.52 million, which was 200% more than in 2021.
  • Tourism contributes around 13% of the city’s income. Retail trade and manufacturing each contribute more.
  • Bangkok has the 25th largest economy in the world, similar to that of Washington D.C. or Mexico City.
  • Bangkok contributes 1/3rd of the country GDP and 95% of its millionaires live there.
  • The Chearavanonts are considered the 4th richest family in Asia. They are of Chinese descent and reside in Bangkok. The brothers have a combined wealth of 26.5 billion USD.
  • There are 60 colleges and universities in Bangkok, with the largest in the city (and whole country) being Kasetsart University.
A pond and water fountain at Kasetsart University in Bangkok
Kasetsart University, Bangkok and Thailand’s largest
  • Bangkok has a level of 40.5 on the Crime Rate Index, the same as Bonn, Germany and San Diego, USA.
  • Around 13% of Bangkok residents live on $5.50 or less per day. Only 0.64% live below the poverty line, compared to 7.75% at the national level.
  • Bangkok has been called one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in Asia. One of the first cites in the world to install transgender restrooms in public was Bangkok.
  • 93% of Bangkok’s residents are Buddhist.
  • Movies filmed at least partially in Bangkok include The Hangover II, All I See Is You, The Beach, Mechanic: Resurrection, The Railway Man, A Prayer Before Dawn, Only God Forgives, Kate, and Tomorrow Never Dies.
  • TV shows filmed in Bangkok include The Serpent, The Embassy, and Bangkok Breaking.
Two muay thai fighters in a ring in Bangkok, with a ref standing to the side
Muay thai in Bangkok
  • The most popular sport in Bangkok is the nation’s national sport, muay thai. Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Muay Thai Stadiums are the two largest ones for muay thai.
  • Football (soccer) is also popular in Bangkok. The city has five professional teams in the Thai League.
  • Bangkok has hosted the Asian Games 4 times: 1966, 1970, 1978, and 1998.
  • Bangkok has been the site of major national strikes, uprisings, and protests, notably in 1972, 1976, 1992, 2006 to 2013, and 2020.

Famous People from Bangkok

  • The most recognizable figure in Thailand is the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or Rama IX. He is the world’s 3rd longest monarch, after King Louis XIV and Queen Elizabeth II, reigning for 71 years. Thais considered him a demi-god and his face can be seen everywhere.
  • Adulyadej was actually born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but spend most of his life and died in Bangkok.
A sign showing the former Thai king
Images of the former Thai king can still be seen all over Bangkok
  • The current king of Thailand, Vajiralongkorn or Rama X, is the only son of Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. He is Bangkok-born and is the wealthiest monarch in the world (estimated 30-70 billion USD).
  • Vajiralongkorn has been called the “playboy king”. He has had 7 kids, four wives, and over 20 mistresses.
  • One of these kids, the princess Sirivannavari, is also a fashion designer, poet, equestrian, and badminton player.
  • Bangkok-born Mario Maurer was the main character in Pee Mak, the highest grossing Thai film ever made.
  • Christina Aguilar of Bangkok is nicknamed the Thai Queen of Dance and is one of the country’s top-selling singers.
  • Suvanant Punnakant of Bangkok is considered Thailand’s most famous actress. She starred in many Thai soap operas in the 1990s and 2000s.
A mosaic of famous people from Bangkok
Famous Bangkokians Sirivannavari, Mario Maurer, Suvanant Punnakant, and Christina Aguilar (clockwise from top-left)
  • Born in Bangkok but raised in Hawaii, Tammy Duckworth is the first Thai person person to become a member of Congress in the US.
  • Jim Thompson was an American businessman who is often associated with Bangkok. He helped to revive the silk industry there in the 1950s and 60s. His former house in Bangkok is now a popular museum. He mysteriously disappeared in Malaysia at the age of 61.

Bangkok food Facts

  • Bangkok is considered one of the five culinary regions of Thailand (along with North, Central, Isan, and South). It has some influence Chinese and Portuguese food.
  • Although Pad Thai is the country’s most famous dish abroad and often associated with Bangkok, it is a relatively new food. It dates to the 1930s, Chinese influenced, and was introduced by the government as a healthy national dish.
A collage of famous foods and drinks from Thailand
Famous Bangkok foods and drinks: Thai iced tea, pad thai, insects as food, and the original Red Bull
  • Other famous dishes often associated with Bangkok include papaya salad (som tum), chicken coconut soup (tom kha gai), stir-fried basil with pork (pad kra pao moo), mango with sticky rice (kao niew mamuang), massaman curry with chicken or beef (kaeng mus sa mun), and hot and sour prawn soup (tom yum goong).
  • The famous energy drink Red Bull has origins in a Thai drink called Krating Daeng (meaning “red bull”), invented in 1976. When an Austrian entrepreneur visited Bangkok, he liked the drink and modeled Red Bull on it, in partnership with the Thai company. The original Thai version is non-carbonated and has less caffeine.
  • Bangkok is home to 34 Michelin star restaurants, including 28 one star, and 6 with two stars. There isn’t one yet with 3 stars.
Chairs and tables on a rooftop bar with view of city in Bangkok at night
A rooftop bar in Bangkok
  • Gaggan, a former restaurant in Bangkok, has been ranked 1st in the San Pellegrino Top 50 Asia for three years in a row. It also had 2 Michelin starts before it closed in 2019. It was the only Indian restaurant to ever rank in the top-50 in the world.
  • Bangkok has 9 of the top-50 restaurants in Asia on the 2022 list.
  • Bangkok is well known for its rooftop bars, with the most famous being Vertigo at Banyan Tree Bangkok and Sky Bar at lebua at State Tower.
  • Yes, bugs are eaten in Bangkok. Popular ones include bamboo worms, crickets, and scorpions.

Bangkok History Facts

  • Bangkok started as a small trading village on the west side of the Chao Phraya river in the early 15th century. At the time, the Siamese capital was at Ayutthaya, 68 km (42 mi) to the north of Bangkok.
  • In 1688, the Thais expelled the French from the country around this village.
Wat Arun in Thonburi, Bangkok at sunset
Thonburi on the west side of the river was briefly the capital of Siam
  • After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese in 1767, the capital of Siam was moved to Thonburi, the site of the original village. Taksin the Great established this kingdom, but it only lasted until 1782.
  • In 1782, King Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I) established the kingdom that continues to this day. He moved it to the eastern side of the river, establishing the Grand Palace on Rattanakosin Island and building moats around it.
  • 1782 is thus considered Bangkok’s official founding date. The city was originally called Rattanakosin.
  • The city’s first inhabitants most traveled around and lived on the canals, often in floating houses.
  • By 1835, Bangkok’s Chinatown was already growing as a Chinese market in Sampheng area.
Houses and laundry along a canal in Bangkok, with colorful houses behind and green vegetation floating on the water
Life on the canals in Bangkok
  • By the 1850s, travel by road was becoming more common than by canal, and the first paved road was constructed in 1864.
  • In 1893, the Paknam railway opened, followed by electric trams in 1894.
  • The city’s water supply began in 1914.
  • In 1932, the first road bridge across the Chao Phraya opened, called Memorial Bridge or “Buddhayodfa Chulalok Maharat Bridge”.
  • During WWII, the allies bombed Bangkok, as it was allied with Japan.
  • In the 1960s, Bangkok’s population doubled from 1.5 million to 3 million.
  • Bangkok hosted the 5th Asian Games in 1966, the first of four times.
Downtown Bangkok and urban sprawl around it, with rays of sun shining down
Urban sprawl in Bangkok
  • The first high-rise building in Bangkok was constructed in 1968.
  • In 1972, the city’s current borders were established, after the merger of a few former provinces.
  • Chaleo Yoovidhya invented the popular energy drink Krating Daeng, which would eventually inspire the international version of Red Bull, in Bangkok in 1976.
  • In 1981, the country’s first expressway, the Chaloem Maha Nakhon Expressway, opened to serve Greater Bangkok.
  • The first governor election took place in 1985.
  • In the 1980s, Bangkok developed rapidly, and also developed a reputation for its horrible traffic jams and air pollution. Development was slowed by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
Standstill traffic on a wide road in Bangkok
Bangkok is famous for its traffic jams.
  • In 1998, Bangkok hosted the Asian Games for the 4th time.
  • Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain began operating in 1999, while the MRT followed in 2004.
  • In 2006, Bangkok’s main international airport moved from Don Mueang to the new Suvarnabhumi Airport, taking the BKK airport code with it. Don Mueang still has some international flights, too, and is Asia’s longest running major airport.
  • Severe floods inundated parts of Bangkok in 2011, with over 800 people dying in the city and other parts of the country.
  • In August 2015, Thailand’s deadliest-ever terrorist attack occurred in Bangkok. The bombing at Erawan Shrine near CentralwORLD mall and Siam Square killed 20 people.
A crowd of worshippers at Erawan Shrine in Bangkok
Erawan Shrine was the site of the 2016 Bangkok bombing
  • On October 13, 2016, the beloved Thai kind Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away at the age of 88. His cremated remains were enshrined at the Grand Palace. A record 12 million people went there to pay their respects, leaving 35 million USD in donations.
  • When the pandemic started in 2020, formerly packed tourist spots in Bangkok like the Grand Palace and Khao San road were totally devoid of people.
  • In June 2022, Bangkok held its first Pride Parade in 16 years.
  • In 2023, the government plans to replace its tuk-tuks with environmentally friendly electric ones gradually.

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