Known in the Thai language as Krung Thep, Bangkok is a very hot and densely populated city. Its wealth of cultural sites makes it one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, but it is also a very important business centre for the whole of Southeast Asia.
From the Chao Phraya River run many canals which can flood in the September monsoons. Because of Bangkok's population density, it suffers from chronic traffic congestion and gridlock can occur during very heavy rains.
Amongst the most popular tourist attractions is the Grand Palace complex of buildings which served as the official residence of the King up to the mid-20th century. The Palace sits on the east bank of the River and is protected by a defensive wall and canal known as Rattana Kosin. The Palace is home to the 45cm tall Emerald Buddha.
Bangkok has over 400 Buddhist temples, or Wats, including Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) located in the Bangkok Yai district, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya. It is 86m high and climbing up its steep steps offers excellent views of the city.
In addition to the many lively citywide street markets, the best shopping is in Sukhumvit Road. Here is the huge new shopping complex known as Siam Paragon, one of the biggest and most luxurious malls in south east Asia; it truly is a Asian marvel. The Emporium, nearby is the center of fashion and style.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is located in Racha Thewa, about 25 km east of Bangkok. The best way to the city is using the airport operated express bus routes to central Bangkok. The buses are air-conditioned with ample luggage space.