Bangkok Flag: Exploring Its Colors and Patterns

Waving flags in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand. Check out these interesting facts about the Bangkok flag and the country’s national emblem.

A city or nation’s flag is a symbol of its soul. By examining its colors, prints, and figures, we get to take a peek at its painful past and the country’s strength that holds its present. It’s a true emblem of a nation’s history and identity.

While every city and country has its own story to tell, the city of Bangkok in Thailand is not one to disappoint you with plain tales.

With a combination of sacred temples, extended canals, and commercial buildings, the city can definitely give you a one-of-a-kind experience, especially for travelers who are looking for endless adventures and cultural immersions.

Before anything else, let’s explore the colors and patterns of the Bangkok flag as well as the country’s flag to better understand and connect with their unique culture and heritage.

Examining the Bangkok Flag and the Whole Nation’s Flag

Bangkok is the only metropolitan and also the capital city of Thailand. Interestingly, “Bangkok” was a name commonly used by foreigners. It comes from the combination of bang (village or district) and makok (wild plums).

On the other hand, Thai people gave their capital city a lengthy official name, which has a sweet-sounding translation.

With the successful commerce and tourism in Bangkok, some people would think that it’s a country in itself rather than a city, and they would often wonder what the Bangkok flag looks like.

The Bangkok flag mostly appears on city buildings and other public works sites, while the Thailand flag (the national flag) can be seen almost everywhere in the country.

Let’s examine each flag and the meaning behind their emblems.

A Bangkok flag image displaying symbolic figures. A lot of people wonder what the Bangkok flag looks like. Learn the difference between Thailand’s flag and its capital city’s flag.
Source: นิติรัฐ เกตุแก้ว, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As you can see in the image, Phra Indra (King of the Gods in Hindu Mythology) is calmly seated atop an ivory tusked elephant. The general interpretation would suggest that Bangkok, as the capital city of Thailand, has its Governor represented as Phra Indra in the city’s seal and flag.

Phra Indra carries his iconic lightning thunderbolt weapon (Vajra), which consists of diamonds and thunderbolt properties. In Hindu mythology, the diamonds symbolize indestructibility and the thunderbolt for invincibility.

While there isn’t much information about the reason behind the green background, the color green symbolizes the green leaf that was used to wrap the powder which Phra Isuan (Shiva) turned seventeen mystic elephants from.

For Western people, Thai folklore and mythology can be overwhelming with their complexities and intricacies.

A waving flag of Thailand with the blue sky as its background. Compared to the Bangkok flag, the flag of Thailand has a simple yet direct meaning associated with its colors.
Source: Xiengyod, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Thai flag, on the other hand, has a simple yet direct meaning associated with its colors. The tri-colored flag, with red, white, and blue, expresses the country’s nation-religion-king value.

If you’ve ever mistaken the Thai flag for the French flag or that of other European countries, it’s because the red, white, and blue colors honor Thailand’s World War I Allies, namely France, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States.

Officially, red symbolizes the blood of the Thai people who sacrificed their lives for the country’s independence. Blue represents the great importance and deep reverence of the Thai people to the royal family. Lastly, the color white is for purity, which is one of the pillars of Buddhism.

Like its nation, the Thai flag had gone through some drastic changes. Until 1939, Thailand was officially called Siam, and had its flag designed in plain red. From plain red, a white Sudarshana Chakra (Vishnu weapon) symbol was added to the center from 1782 to 1817.

However, King Mongkut, otherwise known as Rama IV, replaced the emblem with a white tusked elephant in 1855. Then it went through a few more changes before its present red-white-blue stripe design.

It’s quite interesting how much we can learn about a country just by examining their flags. More than just a piece of cloth, a nation’s flag is indeed a symbol of the nation’s soul.

Bangkok, Thailand beyond Its Flag

Among other nations in Southeast Asia, Thailand is the only country that wasn’t under either the British or French colony. Whether it was a clever tactic or the geographical location that gave them the advantage, clearly the country’s independence stood the test of time with the people’s unity and resilience.

What’s more to know about the country and its capital city aside from the rich history that has been embedded in their flags? Its famous tourist destinations, of course!

Take a look at this list of the top 4 must-see landmarks in Bangkok, Thailand.

Wat Pho

With over 400 temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho absolutely deserves a place in your top choices. The number of things to see is overwhelming, as the temple prides itself on its display of massive Buddha statues and elaborate temple patterns and designs.

Grand Palace

The Grand Palace is definitely one of the most spectacular landmarks in Bangkok, Thailand. You wouldn’t want to miss this royal experience and otherworldly beauty.

When visiting the Grand Palace, a proper dress code is necessary since it’s one of the most sacred places in Thailand. A long pair of pants matched with a shirt with sleeves would be appropriate for men, while modest and decent clothes for women would suffice.

Giant Swing

Standing at the center of Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok has a 21-meter-tall swing that was originally used during the Brahman Festival.

As part of the festival, did you know that people actually swung themselves trying to reach a bag of gold coins as high as 50 feet?

Thankfully, King Rama VII put an end to this hazardous and daring festival rite.

Wat Arun

Another breathtaking temple you should visit in Bangkok is Wat Arun. Located by the river, you wouldn’t want to miss taking a sunset photo of this seemingly magical temple.

You would also want to climb up the temple at night to get a stunning view of the lights reflecting on the river.

These are only a few places in Bangkok that showcase the country’s rich culture and heritage. Aside from exploring the meaning behind the colors and patterns of the Bangkok flag, why not give the city a visit? Step into a completely different world that is way beyond your imagination!

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