Just over four hundred years ago, the city of Bangkok was little more than a village consisting of a few houses on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. One century on and it had become an important port for tall ships sailing cargoes around the world. The ships had to stop here for inspection before making their way to the then capital of Ayutthaya. In 1767, however, the Ayutthaya which had served as one of the wealthiest cities in the East was torched by the Burmese and a temporary capital was established at Thonburi.
In 1782, however, a general Chakri assumed the throne and decided to move the country’s capital across the river to Bangkok. He felt that there was more room for growth and how right he was. So, in the same year the city known to native Thais as ‘Krungthep’ or City of Angels, was established as the capital of Siam (didn’t become Thailand until 1939). Upon Chakri’s, or King Rama I which was the name he selected for himself, Bangkok was well on the way to restoring some of the status it once had on the continent. Partly responsible for this turn of luck was the fact that the country was reopened to European settlers. This hadn’t been the case for over a century and half. As well as this, trade began to develop with North America and Bangkok began to flourish.
In the twentieth century further events aided Bangkok’s development. In 1932, the Memorial Bridge was opened. The city’s first bridge, it linked the capital with Thonburi allowing settlement on the other side of the river which had previously been covered by jungle. In the sixties, the Vietnam War contributed to the construction boom which took over the city. Multi-storey buildings made their debut appearance and multi lane roads were introduced. The transformation which has resulted in the Bangkok of today was well underway.
Yet, despite the vast change throughout the centuries, Bangkok has maintained much of its cultural identity. This manifests itself in various ways throughout the city and makes it a particularly special place to visit. So, while the skyline may well be that of a major city, the lifestyles of its residents still include customs and traditions used by the first residents over four hundred years ago.