Bangkok or Krung Thep?Do you know that ‘Bangkok’ is not the name Thai people call their capital city? Then what? Thai people actually call their Thailand’s capital city ‘กรุงเทพมหานคร’ (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) or ‘กรุงเทพฯ’ (Krung Thep) instead of Bangkok.
But how come it is called Bangkok in English?
It is because Bangkok comes from the old name, ‘บางกอก’ (Baang-gòok) but maybe foreigners heard it differently, so the pronunciation changed to Bangkok.
Full name of Bangkok
In 1782, Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I – the first King of Chakri Dynasty) first named the city. Later on, King Mongkut (Rama IV) adjusted the name. In the end, the full name of Thailand’s capital city became:
- กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์
In the official English romanization by Guinness book of records, it pronounces:
- Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit
Well, 168 letters make it the longest city name in the world.
As you can see กรุงเทพฯ’ (Krung Thep) is a shortened version of the full Thai name and it’s commonly and officially used by Thai while Bangkok is used as an English name.
What does the name actually mean?The language of the name is rooted in Pali and Sanskrit so many of them are not used in a common Thai conversation. (No need to feel bad if you don’t understand any words because we don’t either)
The meaning of กรุงเทพมหานคร (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) is ‘The great city of angles’.
- กรุง (grung) = City – mostly refers to the capital city
- เทพ (têep) = angle, god goddess
- มหา (ma-hãa) = great, big, enormous
- นคร (ná-koorn) = city, town
- The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarma.
SummaryThailand has its capital name as the longest city name in the world recorded by The World Guinness Book of Records. However, the official name is shortened to be ‘Krung Thep Maha Nakhon’ where Thais commonly call ‘Krung Thep’ in which it means the city of angles.
Next time, try to say ‘Krung Thep’ instead of ‘Bangkok’ to Thai people, they will be so impressed and appreciate your eagerness to learn about Thailand.