Published On: Sun, May 12th, 2024
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The incredible city with the longest name in the world hardly anyone can pronounce | Travel News | Travel

This Asian city holds the Guinness World Record for the longest place name, which reflects its rich past, mythology and its role as a royal centre.

This bustling, vibrant city can often be overwhelming, which seems to be reflected in its incredibly long full name, which recently regained fame through an Instagram video.

At 168 letters, the city’s name is often shortened to what can be translated as the “City of Angels”.

Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, is very rarely called that name by locals. In fact, those in remote provinces may never have even heard it be called that.

Instead, its official name is Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, or simply Krung Thep.

Even this is significantly longer than its most well-known name. Yet, the Asian city holds the Guiness World Record for the longest place name, at 168 letters long.

The full name reads: “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”. This roughly translates to: “City of Angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest.”

This recently regained fame through a popular Instagram video, which shows a tour guide on a bus full of tourists telling them the full name. It was shared by Wowie Jane Demerre.

Bangkok was the capital’s original site and was located west of the Chao Phraya river, in modern-day Thonburi. In 1782, King Rama I decided to move to a more defensible site across the river. It seems that foreigners never caught up with this move and the old name stuck. That being said, the capital is now so large that it has since engulfed the once independent Thonburi.

The full name is not actually used, but can be seen on signs as part of the capital’s tourist campaign. Meanwhile, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon is commonly found in official documents including car number plates.

An impressive number of locals can recite the entire name, however many may not necessarily know what it means. Many of the words are archaic and are no longer used in modern-day Thai, being rooted in Pali and Sanskrit.

In February 2022, the Thai government approved a minor name change, but one that started a huge debate. Proposed by the Royal Society of Thailand, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; Bangkok was changed to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; (Bangkok).

As a result, many thought it meant that English speakers would need to start using the longer local name, which many did not wish to do as it was deemed confusing, too long and too hard to spell and pronounce.

“We have called it Krung Thep for years and tourists call it Bangkok. So the change means nothing, except confusion,” said Sombat Chanroong, a 40-year-old taxi driver in Bangkok.

However, putting minds at ease, “We still use Bangkok and the ‘BKK’ abbreviation on boarding passes and all signs at the Suvarnabhumi Airport and other airports,” Kittipong Kittikachorn, general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport, told Nikkei Asia.

It is therefore unlikely that tourists will be asked to recite any of Bangkok’s long names on their next visit. However, if you can, you would be sure to impress many locals.

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