Bangkok is known as Thailand’s capital city, but it is also the country’s largest urban area, measuring at 1,569 sq. kilometers and hosting a population of 12 million people. It is divided into 50 districts and about 159 sub-districts, with modes of transportation catering to its river, road, and railway systems. It is considered the economic center of Siam and contains most of its commercial establishments including malls, businesses, factories and hotels like the Banyan Tree Bangkok. So far, it has registered 1,000 skyscrapers; not to mention those that are currently being developed. For decades, its main economic centers are Sathon and Asok, which today has expanded to Ratchadaphisek, covering more than 5 kilometers. Other important business areas include Pinklao, Silom, Bangrak, Phra Ram 2 and 3, as well Chatuchak, to name a few. Siam Square is known as Bangkok’s shopping district, where local and international brands are located.
Bangkok was said to have been established in the early 15th century as a small trading village. With its contribution to the overall economy, it eventually grew in importance, becoming a customs outpost. As the years went on, the city evolved with the introduction of western infrastructure and market. Today, it serves as home to a variety of immigrants with its very own Chinatown – home to nearly 250,000 Chinese entrepreneurs and their families.
Bangkok lies about two meters above sea level, which makes it quite prone to flooding problems, especially during the monsoon season when the Chao Phraya River is overwhelmed. Although higher banks have been installed alongside its main canals for protection, authorities have pointed out concerns on the possibility that the city might sink by 2030 as it is built over a swamp area.
Aside from being a commercial center, this famous city is also known as the tourism gateway for Thailand and actually boasts of impressive historical destinations like Wat Pho, Wat Arun and the Grand Palace, aside from luxurious lodging facilities like the Banyan Tree Bangkok. Surrounding tourist sites include the cultural site of Samut Songkhram, which is 63 kilometers away from the city, and Kanchanaburi (128 kilometers), where people could ride a raft down a stream and relax.
Phuket is an island 823 kilometers away from Bangkok, and it is among the country’s most famous destinations. It is comparably similar in size to that of Singapore, and is known to be Thailand’s largest island. Situated on the west coast of the country, it is connected to the mainland by two bridges. From the city, it usually takes 13 hours to get to the island by bus, but it is definitely worthwhile the trip to take.
Phuket’s geography is mostly composed of mountains, rice plains, brooks, creeks and coastlines. On its northern side, there lies the Khao Phra Thaeo non-hunting area, which is a protected rainforest. On the northwest coast, visitors can find the Nai Yang beach, a mating sanctuary for sea turtles. On the central western end, there is the Patong beach, which is near several hotel and spa establishments, including the Banyan Tree Phuket Resort and Spa. From Phuket, visitors can organize expeditions to surrounding islands including the Similan, Phi Phi and Bon Island, which are a great snorkelling and diving areas.