Topography and climate
Bangkok Special Administrative Area is spread over almost 1570sq.km, most of which comes under the city of Bangkok. Area wise, it is one among the largest cities in the world.
The Chao Phraya River and its tributaries wind its way through Bangkok and the neighboring provinces forming a delta region, before ending up in Bay of Bangkok. This led to the formation of a network of canals and passages, which earned Bangkok the name ‘Venice of the East’.
Bangkok lies at a height of two meters above sea level. This leads to severe flooding during monsoons. Though BMA is taking measures to prevent this, the problem of flooding is not completely solved.
The network of canals is posing another threat to the city. It is found that the city is sinking at the rate of 2in per year. This is because the city lies on swampland. This alarming situation, along with the rising sea levels all over the world due to global warming, is said to submerge Bangkok under water by 2025.
Bangkok has tropical monsoon climate. The absolute maximum is 40.8?C and absolute minimum is 9.9?C. During the past fifty years, the city had experienced hailstorm only once.
(Table showing average temperatures for each month)
Bangkok is divided into 50 khets or districts, which comes under BMA. Bangkok has grown exponentially from a city scattered on the banks of the river to a metropolitan city spread over six provinces. The boundaries of the city and its central business district are expanding each year. This is mainly to the continuous flow of expats from Western countries and immigrants from neighboring countries like Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. This inflow of people has resulted in the mushrooming of numerous housing projects in the city outskirts. A few years later, these areas are also included in the city of Bangkok, making the city grow bigger and bigger.
While the city outskirts expand sideways, including more and more areas in the process, the central zone has only one direction left to grow – that is upwards. There are a thousand registered skyscrapers in the city and is ranked 17 in the list of world’s tallest cities.
The main business districts of Bangkok are Silom, Bangrak, Pinklao, Sathon, Phra Ram 2, Petchaburi, Phra Nakhon, and Pathumwan.
In 1990, Bangkok registered the highest growth rate in the world. During this period, Bangkok went through drastic changes. New business districts were formed and some areas became sought-after overnight. Wireless Road and Chitlom are Bangkok’s most expensive localities. A portion of the British Embassy measuring 14,400sq.m, on the corner of Wireless and Rama I Roads, was sold for a record USD 92 million. This still remains the most expensive land sale in Thailand.
Phra Nakhon district houses the government agencies and ministries. Many of Bangkok’s historic monuments like the Grand Palace and Democracy Monument are situated here. The area is declared as a no-skyscraper zone to preserve its old-world charm. Some of the buildings in the area are as old as Thailand itself.
Thonburi is also not far behind with a few monuments of historic interest to its credit. Wat Arun is one among them. The Victory Monument of Bangkok is of historic value and due to its location in the center of the city, makes it an ideal bus terminal.
The north and eastern parts of the city are residential areas inhabited by mostly middle-class people. The central city area has small, low-rise apartments dwelt by low-income immigrants. Lad Prao and Sri Nakarin are the recently developed residential areas, now part of Bangkok. Thonburi and the areas surrounding the airports at Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang are also experiencing fast-paced developmental activities.
Ratchaprasong is the shopping center of Bangkok. The Central World Plaza, recently renovated, is one of the most popular shopping centers. Siam Square may be equated to Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus in London. Sukhumvit is a favorite shopping destination of tourists. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is famous for low-priced quality products.
Bangkok’s slum is mostly concentrated on the 10sq.kms of land, lying north of Bangkok Port along Chao Phraya River. This area has half-built houses occupied mostly by immigrants and workers from the northeastern provinces.
Parks and Green zones
The parks of Bangkok are maintained and preserved by the Department of National Forestry and some are declared as Green zones. However, the lack of green belt development due to the city’s expanding population and economic development is costing the city dear. Recently, voices have been raised to preserve the remaining greenery and environment.
Bangkok has a large forest park in the city center covering 50sq.km. of land. This acts as a fender to the CBD from the big industries located on the south and west. Bung Makkasan is another green area with swamps, which protects the residential areas. Many areas are left undeveloped to prevent heedless urbanization.
Lumphini Park, also known as Bangkok’s Central Park, was built during the reign of Rama VI. It is now used mostly for recreational purposes and as a venue for ceremonies. It is the most visited park during weekdays. The park gates are closed at night to prevent vandalism. Other important parks in Bangkok are Chatuchak Park and Rama IX Park. These two were built within the last fifty years to provide open space and greenery for the suburban population. Both have botanical gardens, sports clubs and large ponds. Queen Sirikit Park near Lad Yao, Saranrom Park across the Grand Palace, Benjasiri Park on Sukhumvit, Suan Romaneenat, Sanam Luang and Dusit Park are some of the famous parks of Bangkok.