Must-see activities and sites in Bangkok include the poetically-named Wat Arun, or Temple of the Dawn, a beautiful, ornate structure overlooking the Chao Phraya; Wat Pho, home to a giant Buddha and perhaps one of the most renowned temples in Thailand; the Grand Palace, which once housed Thailand’s kings; and the famous floating markets, where merchants in canoes sell fresh, natural produce.
Known as Krung Thep, which translates to “City of Angels,” Bangkok was established in the 15th century as a small trading post at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River. After facing the turmoil of Japanese occupation during World War II, Bangkok boomed in the 1960s and 1970s, as the United States came to rely on Thailand as a staging area for the Vietnam War effort.
Today, Bangkok has blossomed into Thailand’s most populated city, with 12 million residents as of 2012. The city is rich with cultural heritage and plays a leading role politically, socially, and economically in the country as well as southeast Asia. The city offers a wide range of attractions to satisfy varied tastes, including temples, nightlife, shopping, museum, palaces, and much more.