It is one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities with magnificent temples and palaces, authentic canals and busy markets. For years, it was only a small trading post at the banks of the Chao Phraya River, until King Rama I, the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty, turned it into the capital of Siam in 1782, after the burning of Ayutthaya by Burmese invaders. Since then, Bangkok has turned into a national treasure house and functions as Thailand's spiritual, cultural, political, commercial, educational and diplomatic centre. Situated on the banks of the Chayo Praya River, the Grand Palace is the most spectacular complex in Bangkok. Built to mark the founding of the new capital in 1782, it houses Thailand's holiest shrine, Wat Phra Kaeo, resting place of the sacred Emerald Buddha.
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