The capital city of Thailand, Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) is a choice destination and first stop for tourists looking to delve into the rich cultural tapestry of Thailand. The metropolitan city boasts a population of over nine million and is bordered by the five provinces Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi and Samut Sakhon. The city is subdivided into fifty regions which are known as khet or amphoe districts. Each district functions as a municipality with its own chief representative and council elected democratically once every four years.
The seal of the city of Bangkok shows the God Indra (Devanagari) who is the King of the Devas (gods) and Lord of Heaven. He rides the mythical white elephant Erawan and holds a lightning bolt in his hand said to drive away the threat of drought. A number of festivals are held throughout the year with similar mythical meanings. Poplar festivals include Loy Krathong, Songkran and the Ghost Festival.
While activities flourish in Bangkok throughout the year most tourism occurs in its high season between November and March. The climate is far more temperate and tolerable for travellers in Bangkok's winter season with temperatures averaging 25 degrees Celsius/ 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Travellers wishing to avoid the rainy season should avoid travel in the months of July through October. The hottest months of the year occur between April and June.
There are a number of things to see and do in the city. The hub of shopping is located in Siam Square which features both large indoor malls as well as independently owned shops with local and international brands and products.
A popular area to visit in the city is The Phra Nakhon district which features two popular attractions; the Grand Palace and the Giant Swing. The Grand Palace (Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang) rests along the banks of the Chao Phraya River and was commissioned by Yodfa Chulaloke, the King Buddha in 1782. The structure covers an area of over two hundred thousand square meters of Thai architecture and sculptures. The Giant Swing was constructed in 1784 and was the historic site of an annual royal ceremony held in the first lunar month and involved a mythological re-enactment based on a Hindu epic story of Brahma and Shiva. The Giant Swing has been proposed as a future UNESCO World Heritage site.
Bangkok offers the convenience of two airports, the Suvarnabhumi and the Don Mueang international airports. Bangkok's metropolitan area is served by four rapid transit lines which makes the city effectively accessible by transit for travellers. Once in the city there are a number of transport options to choose from including the BTS (sky train), the underground, taxis, motorbike taxis, buses and tuk tuks. Bangkok is a noisy hub of traffic which is exciting and also means you are never waiting for long to find transport to where you are headed.
Accommodation in Bangkok varies with most international travellers preferring to stay close to the sky train for ease of travel on the city's transit system. Those wishing to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle prefer to stay in Chinatown for food and shopping while the Sukhumvit district offers spas, fine dining and a vibrant nightlife. Bangkok is also brimming with hostels and guest houses – ensuring that there is something for tourists on every budget.