The historic Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho stand in contrast with other tourist attractions such as the nightlife scenes of Khaosan Road and Patpong.
Bangkok is among the world's top tourist destinations.
Bangkok initially served as a customs outpost with forts on both sides of the river, and became the site of a siege in 1688 in which the French were expelled from Siam.
After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese Empire in 1767, the newly declared King Taksin established his capital at the town, which became the base of the Thonburi Kingdom.
The city was at the centre of Thailand's political struggles throughout the 20th century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rule and underwent numerous coups and several uprisings.
When King Rama I established his new capital on the river's eastern bank, the city inherited Ayutthaya's ceremonial name, of which there were many variants, including Krung Thep Thawarawadi Si Ayutthaya ( Edmund Roberts, visiting the city as envoy of the United States in 1833, noted that the city, since becoming capital, was known as Sia-Yut'hia, and this is the name used in international treaties of the period.
Limited roads, despite an extensive expressway network, together with substantial private car usage, have led to chronic and crippling traffic congestion, which caused severe air pollution in the 1990s.
The city has since turned to public transport in an attempt to solve this major problem.
In 1915 the monthon was split into several provinces, the administrative boundaries of which have since further changed.
The city in its current form was created in 1972 with the formation of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), following the merger of Phra Nakhon Province on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya and Thonburi Province on the west during the previous year.