If you have gone to Thailand, you might have heard Thai people saying Krung Thep. But do you know what Krung Thep means?
Krung Thep is the capital of Thailand and the way Thai people call Bangkok. Thai people don’t say Bangkok, instead they say Krung Thep (กรุงเทพ).
Meaning of Krung Thep (กรุงเทพ)
Krung Thep literally means city of angels and it is how Thais refer to Bangkok. กรุง (Krung) means city, capital. เทพ (Thep) means angels.
You might see Krung Thep being written like กรุงเทพฯ. This is because the ฯ is a character that shows that a word is being abbreviated.
Krung Thep is short for Krung Thep Maha Nakhon กรุงเทพมหานคร. มหา (maha) means great and นคร (nakhon) also means city.
In fact, the full name is the longest name of a capital in the world, by far! The full name is Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์).
This translates to “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 Vishnukam”.
Why do foreigners say Bangkok instead of Krung Thep?
You might be wondering, if Thai people refer to Bangkok as Krung Thep, why do foreigners say Bangkok?
The simple answer is that Bangkok is the name of the location where the capital city used to be and the name has stuck ever since. Bangkok is now used to refer to the entire capital by foreigners.
The detailed explanation is as follows.
In 1767, Taksin the Great established Thonburi as the capital of Thailand. Thonburi is located in Bangkok, however Westerners didn’t refer to it as Thonburi and just referred to it as Bangkok.
The capital was relocated a few times until in 1971, when the areas the capital had been in were merged into one area called “The province of Nakhon Bangkok Thonburi” (จังหวัดนครหลวงกรุงเทพธนบุรี). A year later it was renamed to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (กรุงเทพมหานคร) – the name used today.
Throughout all these changes, foreigners still just referred to it as Bangkok and since it has been used for a long time it has stuck. In reality, Bangkok is a section of Krung Thep, but for foreigners, Bangkok is what Thais call Krung Thep.
💡 Bangkok is actually pronounced more like Banggok (บางกอก)
I hope you now know a little bit more about what Krung Thep (Grung Tep, Grung Tâyp) means and why Thai people don’t say Bangkok.
If you want to sound a bit more native, start saying Krung Thep instead of Bangkok!