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“Krung Thep Maha Nakhon,” the other name for the city of Bangkok, Thailand, is a name already known locally, Thai students say

A photo of three buildings in Thailand. They are gold, brown, white and grey in color. They have pointed tops and are elaborate in design. The sky is very blue. There are green plants in the foreground.
Buildings in Thailand.

Thai people never use the word Bangkok, Natasha Krisanalome said. The only times she said she has used the name Bangkok have been when she was on her mission in New Zealand and as a student here at BYU–Hawaii.

The full name of the city of Bangkok in Thailand holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest place name, according to AP News.

More of a descriptive phrase than a city name, the traditional full name for Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit, the news site explains.

To some locals, like senior communications major Krisanalome, however, the full name is shortened to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, a name she said she has known from the time she was born.

According to AP News, after a style change by Thailand’s Royal Society in mid-February to change the city name from “Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; Bangkok” to “Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok),” many thought the replacement of the semi-colon with parentheses meant the city would officially change its name.

Some asked for clarification regarding the change and the Royal Society clarified both Krung Thep Maha Nakhon and Bangkok are acceptable when “writing the capital city’s official name with the Roman alphabet,” says the government agency quoted by AP News.

Aiyarat Buachaiya, a sophomore from Surin, Thailand, majoring in communications, said the recent change is not a rename but instead an option to call the capital city by its local name. He added it is a significant change for foreigners more than the natives because they already use the other name locally.

Krisanalome added although Krung Thep Maha Nakhon is an excellent name, it’s too long and difficult for foreigners to say. With that said, she explained she still likes the change. “It’s good to let people know what the actual name of our capital is.”

This can be the perfect timing for the change because not many tourists are visiting the country due to the pandemic and lockdown, she added. So, when travel resumes, she explained tourists can see the changes implemented.

City name meaning & translation

Buachaiya said “Krung Thep” means the “city of angels” and “Maha Nakhon” means “big city.”

According to the Britannica website, the full-length name translates to: “the City of Gods, the Great City, the Residence of the Emerald Buddha, the Impregnable City (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the Grand Capital of the World Endowed with Nine Precious Gems, the Happy City Abounding in Enormous Royal Palaces Which Resemble the Heavenly Abode Wherein Dwell the Reincarnated Gods, a City Given by Indra and Built by Vishnukarm.”