Bangkok, Thailand




Thonburi is a vast district in Bangkok consisting of the entire west bank of the Chao Phraya River. After the sacking of Ayutthaya in 1767, General Phraya Taksin moved the new capital of Siam to Thonburi. It is hard to believe this was once the country's capital since the district is devoid of any grand structures. While Thonburi has developed in recent decades, visitors still come here for its cool and peaceful atmosphere. The traditional Thai way of life on the canals still exists here as do the floating markets and orchard farms.

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One theory on the origin of the name "Bangkok" is from "Bang Ko" meaning "island village" in Thai. "Bang Ko" was the first part of Thonburi to be settled, as its location was a convenient storage point for merchant ships sailing north towards Ayutthaya. In 1665, King Narai the Great ordered the construction of Fort Vichaiyen (now known as the Vichaiprasit Fort) near the mouth of the Bangkok Yai canal to protect Ayutthaya from invaders. With it, the village got the status of a fortified city and renamed Thonburi.

General Taksin was in charge of the Siamese resistance
when Ayutthaya was burnt by the Burmese in 1767. He conquered back Siam within a year and became King of Siam, establishing Thonburi as the new capital. However, the country was in an economic turmoil with rampant corruption. A rebellion took hold of Thonburi, forcing King Taksin to step down and was secretly executed. General Phraya Chakri was offered the throne and became King Rama I. He made Rattanakosin the new capital, which ended Thonburi as the capital.

Wat Arun in Thonburi by Neitram

Thonburi was relatively undeveloped compared to its neighbour across the Chao Phraya River. The economy was primarily agricultural with canals crossing the fruit orchards. Many fruit species of durians originated in Thonburi including "mon thong", "chanee" and "kan yao" variety. However, most of the fruit orchards have disappeared as Thonburi developed. It wasn't until 1932 that Thonburi became physically linked to Rattanakosin with the construction of the Memorial Bridge. Thonburi's distinct identity only held out for forty more years until 1971, when it was incorporated with Bangkok.

Vichaiprasit Fort by Xiengyod

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