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The Giant Swing at Wat Suthat

Wat Suthat Thep Wararam - วัดสุทัศนเทพวราราม  One of Bangkok's most iconic landmarks is the Giant Swing, a towering red monument looking something like a Japanese torii gate, but serving a very different purpose. Long ago used in a royal ceremony by the kingdom's secretive royal court Brahmins, the swing today serves as a symbol of the City of Angels.

Wat Suthat Temple, the home of the Giant Swing, is a first-class temple of the royal grade, of which there are only ten in all of Bangkok.


Surrounding the temple sanctuary are twenty-eight miniature Chinese-style pagodas carved from stone. According to the Buddhist scriptures, there have been twenty-seven Buddhas before the enlightenment of Prince Siddhārtha Gautama. Each of these twenty-eight pagodas therefore correspond to one of the ancient enlightened lives of the Buddha.


While Wat Suthat itself is a beautiful and important royal temple, the Giant Swing, which soars above the temple along Bamrung Ruang Road, is the most rema…

What is Bangkok's Real Name?


Reclining Buddha via Pixabay

Long ago, Bangkok was just a small fishing village. It's name "Bang-ko" literally meant "city on an island in a river" due to it's location along the banks of the Chaophraya river.

That changed after the fall of Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam in 1767, when the capital was moved down the river to Bangkok. The city was granted Ayutthaya's ceremonial title, Krungthep Mahanakhon Si Ayutthaya, although the city was still generally referred to as "Bangkok".

During the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV) in the mid-19th century, Bangkok was granted its current full ceremonial name:

Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit

Which is so long that even most Thais can't remember the full name! As a matter of fact, the name of Bangkok is so long that it holds the Guinness World Records title for the longest place name in the world. In Thai, it's usually just shortened to "Krungthep".

The name isn't even a Thai name, but rather in the ancient Buddhist ecclesiastical language, Pali Sanskrit. In English, it translates to:

City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra's behest

It's no wonder that everyone just calls it "Bangkok". Nicknames for the city include "The City of Angels" from its full name, or "The Big Mango" around expat circles.

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