What is the full name of Bangkok in Thai? After looking at Thai names last week, I started thinking about the names of cities too. It is not uncommon for some cities to take on different names based on the language. In Thailand, many cities do not actually change their name in English, though pronunciation will obviously change. Most of the time, people should understand where you are talking about. In the case of Bangkok, the situation is a bit different. Let’s take a quick look at Bangkok and its unique name.
Bangkok (บางกอก) is the capital of Thailand, as well as the most populous city in the kingdom. This name, Bangkok, is used as the English name for the city. Thai people are of course familiar with this name, with many government administrations and companies using that name. Its origin is not clear, with some theories of how the name came about.
When it comes to the official name for Bangkok in Thai, we see why it has become a widely shared fact. At 168 letters long, the name is recognized as the longest place name in the world. You should note that this is seen as the ceremonial title for the city, rather than one that is commonly used in everyday speech. Either way, let’s take a look:
‘Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit’
กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์
The translation of this is as follows:
The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) 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 Vishnukarn.
As you can imagine, that is a lot to remember. While it is not used extensively, many people are actually able to recite the whole name thanks to a song. The words that make this up have a mixture of different origins, owing to the diverse history of Thailand.
So what do people actually call Bangkok? Usually, they take the first part of the name. This would either be ‘krung thep maha nakhon’ (กรุงเทพมหานคร) or just ‘krung thep’ (กรุงเทพ). Bangkok will also be understood too.
Bangkok isn’t the only one that has a different name among Thai people. There are a few other notable examples too.
Nakhon Ratchasima (นครราชสีมา) is one of the major cities in the Isaan region of Thailand. While that is the official name of the city, it is more commonly referred to as Korat (โคราช). This name is actually a shortening of the ancient Khmer name for the city, revealing some history of the location. Some places like Udon Thani (อุดรธานี), another big city from Isaan use a shortened version of it names when referred to. In this case, it is known as just ‘udon’ (อุดร).
You may have noticed while looking at a map of Thailand that the word ‘nakhon’ (นครส) appears often in city names. The word actually means city, originating from the Sanskrit word of the same meaning. Another word, ‘buri’ (ห์บุรี), which is also common in city names has a similar meaning too, deriving from a different Sanskrit word. The word ‘chiang’ (เชียง) also means the same thing, though the word has Northern Thai origins.
Then there is the word ‘bang’ (บาง) as seen in ‘Bangkok’. This means ‘a village on the stream’ and is thought to be part of the origin of the name.
So there is the full name of Thailand’s capital. The name for Bangkok in Thai is certainly interesting to read about, but there is no need to learn the whole thing. Unless you are looking for a challenge, of course. There is no problem with you using Bangkok, though you can try use Krung Thep to see how the person reacts to your knowledge. Otherwise, it can be quite interesting to see what each city’s name means when translated. Next time you are in the kingdom, try find a map and see what the names for the cities actually mean, also check this Bangkok travel guide to enjoy your trip more.
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