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March 30, 2022

50 Amazing Photographs Capture Daily Life on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River From the Early 1950s

The Chao Phraya River is an iconic symbol of Bangkok and a life-giver to Thailand’s various provinces through which it flows. The ‘River of Kings’ has a rich history, acting as a gateway to some of the capital’s most prestigious attractions.

The importance of the Chao Phraya River stretches as far back as the 15th century. Settlers chose the area that is now Bangkok for its fertile lands (it was once a swamp, after all), in addition to its strategic position close to the river’s mouth. The Thai capital was later relocated from Ayutthaya to the Chao Phraya’s western banks (modern-day Thonburi), and later still to the opposite side of the water. Both settlements were ultimately joined as one larger capital, now known as Bangkok (or Krung Thep in Thai).

Modern-day development across Bangkok has evolved the landscape along the river beyond recognition. Authorities have evicted numerous communities along the river in Bangkok during recent years, alleged to have been illegally occupying land. This is to make way for the controversial development of an enormous riverside promenade, stretching all the way from the Rama 7 Bridge in the north to Phra Pinklao Bridge towards the south.

Here, a gallery of 50 amazing photographs of life on the Chao Phraya river taken by Dmitri Kessel for LIFE magazine from the early 1950s.


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