A high-tech Bangkok tour

Ever wanted to stand on the pavilion of the Annanata Sammakhom Throne Hall and witness the coup d’état that brought about the end of absolute monarchy? Attend the opening ceremony of Memorial Bridge? Watch Democracy Monument being built? Now there is an app that lets you do just that.

Rama – an app designed by New York-based Crimson Bamboo – is available on the iPhone and puts a unique spin on the role of tour guides. The app harnesses the power of GPS, archival photographs and storytelling to create compelling tours that not only direct you to intriguing locations, but also inform and entertain you. Rama offers guided tours in a number of cities throughout the world and has recently released “Bangkok in the 1930s,” a first for Thailand.

Democracy Monument before the opening ceremony in 1939

The tour takes you through a decade of economic crisis, coup d’états, political intrigue and the birth of a new nation. The narrative is set against the backdrop of Bangkok’s most famous temples and palaces and the tour guides you to places such as the Annanta Sammakhom Throne Hall – where the People’s Party staged a coup d’état in 1932 and ousted King Prajadhipok (Rama VII). Aside from the fascinating story, historical imagery allows you to compare the Bangkok of the 1930s to the Bangkok of today.

Members of the People’s Party addressing the crowd assembled outside the Annanta Sammakhom Throne Hall, 24 June, 1932

Rama is free to download from iTunes and all guided tours can then be searched for and downloaded as an inn-app purchase via the app. The app currently works best on GPS-enabled iPhones due to the necessity of mobility, though the developer is at present working on an offline version of the app. This unique app acts as an all-in-one tour guide, directing you to waypoints, giving you well-researched historical facts and showing you images that bring the story to life.

How the waypoints look within the tour

If you’re planning a trip to Bangkok, this guided tour offers you the perfect opportunity to discover places that you may otherwise overlook, while learning about the country’s history in an interactive way. The tour takes about three hours to complete — including stops at palaces, temples and museums — and is based in Bangkok’s “spiritual heart”: Rattanakosin Island. This is the place where the current capital was established by Rama I in 1782.

“Bangkok in the 1930s” is available as an in-app purchase at $1.99 on Rama, an iPhone app found on iTunes or through the developer’s website. Ray Malcolm is the author of Faraang a blog about Thailand.

About Ray Malcolm, Guest Contributor