The Government of Thailand is exploring the possibility of relocating its capital city from Bangkok to a new location. Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, which is romanticized and shortened to Bangkok in the West, is the country’s biggest and most populous city and has been the capital throughout the nation’s history.
The move to a new capital city is a major undertaking and could potentially change the way the country is administered and organized dramatically. Although Thailand is far from the first nation in South East Asia to consider moving its capital city from its historical destination, the change invites many questions for both residents and tourists alike.
This article analyzes the possible impact this could have on tourists visiting the country. It also attempts to answer some of the questions that are likely to arise from the proposed plans.
How Could the Move Impact Tourists Visiting Thailand?
Whilst the move from one capital city to another is only an idea at this moment in time it could become a reality in a few years. However, this is unlikely to change the number of people traveling to Bangkok, nor is it expected to affect the popularity or experience of visiting the city.
The city still boasts the country’s biggest international airport (which is also scheduled for an extension in the near future), meaning it will most continue to be the most likely arrival destination into the country. Not to mention numerous tourist sights such as the Royal Palace, Kohsan Road or its many golden Buddha statues make it a favorite for overseas visitors.
What could change, however, is the location of some Thai government services and potentially, embassies. However, with such a big volume of annual visitors from overseas, it is unlikely that diplomatic missions would leave Bangkok entirely and it’s probable that consulates would continue to operate in the city for international governments.
Why is the Thai Government Considering the Move?
Bangkok is known the world over for its population density. It is home to some 14 million inhabitants and as a result, is notorious for its traffic and is the 8th most congested city in the world.
The coastal city also sits on a river delta and has become in recent years vulnerable to flooding and the effects of climate change. These challenges have prompted the government to consider the viability of the move in an aim to improve traffic flow in and out of Bangkok and to improve the functions of government.
Where Will the Thai Capital Move to?
At the time of writing, this is not totally certain. It is not yet known whether the country will construct a new capital city like neighboring Burma or simply make use of another location in the country.
Thus far, Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Thai Prime Minister, has indicated that he’s more in favor of using a pre-existing city, commenting he wanted to find: “a city that’s neither too far nor too expensive to move to”, adding that the hope was “to decentralize the urban area to outer Bangkok to reduce crowding,”. Therefore, it would appear likely that the government won’t move the capital city far from the central region of Thailand where Bangkok is located.
When Could Thailand’s Capital Officially Change?
The news of a potential change of capital city in Thailand is relatively recent. As yet plans have yet to be officiated and the organization of such a project is in its early stages. However, if the plans are approved and the feasibility studies completed, this is likely to be a long term project and would take about 10 years to complete depending on the scope of development needed in the new location.
What Other South East Asian Countries Have Moved Capital Cities?
Thailand would not be the first Southeast Asian country to move its capital city. 2 other nations in the region have also started or completed work on brand new, purpose-built capitals.
Jakarta is currently the capital of Indonesia but that is due to change in around 2024 when a new site located in Borneo becomes the official capital. This move was made in reaction to high levels of congestion and pollution affecting the current capital. Additionally, Jakarta is sinking into the sea at a rate of 10-20cm a year, which has prompted the Indonesian government to act on the change.
The historical capital Yangon was replaced in 2012 by Naypyidaw, a purpose-built new capital city. The move was made for various reasons, although officially it was done to mitigate against the regular cyclones and typhoons which affect Yangon frequently.
Whether Thailand moves its capital city or not, tourists will still be able to enjoy the marvels this country has to offer without much disruption. Bangkok itself is a fascinating city to travel to and full of cultural treasures to enjoy and will continue to be long into the future no matter the decision the government makes.
Remember: a Thailand visa is obligatory for visitors arriving from countries that require a visa on arrival who are traveling to Bangkok or elsewhere in the country. This can easily be obtained prior to travel via an online application, which can be completed in minutes and approved within hours.