Bangkok Background Information
Getting a little background information on Bangkok will help you avoid surprises when you get there. Here are some links to essential information that you'll want to know before you go:
- Following the sacking of Ayuthaya by the Burmese in 1767 (see Thai History), the Siamese were reunited by General - later to be King - Taksin, who established the new capital in Thonburi on the west bank of the Chaophraya river opposite where Bangkok is today. Taksin's successor, King Chakri (Rama I) decided to move the capital across the river to a more defensible location.
- Money / Currency
- The currency of Thailand is the "Baht" - sometimes spelled "Bath" but pronounced to rhyme with "hot." One Baht is divisible into 100 Satang. Major credit cards are accepted by hotels and large shops, but "hard cash" is the preferred tender almost everywhere. Travelers checks are not widely accepted outside of hotels, so change them for cash at a bank exchange, which you'll find in any and every tourist destination.
- Before you book your trip, you'll want to check to see if a visa is required. Thailand has traditionally been rather free with visas, and most westerners still receive 30 day entry stamps on arrival at any airport. However, like just about every other country since 2001, security concerns have lead to a reduction in the number of countries automatically granted visas. For a current list of countries entitled to visa-free entry, visit the Thai Foreign Ministry's web site.
- The Thais divide the year into three seasons: the cool season, hot season, and rainy season. For most westerners, this translates to "hot," "really hot," and "really hot and wet." Temperatures rarely drop below 25° C (70° F). See the link for current conditions and historical charts.