Lifestyle & Belief

Bangkok's new, yawn-inducing slogan


A cement chicken on a busy street in Bangkok, Thailand.


Paula Bronstein

A city as dazzling, intoxicating and congenial as Bangkok deserves an inspiring slogan.

The Thai capital's newly unveiled motto, however, is more likely to make its residents drowsy.

A city's catchphrase should be punchy (The Big Apple) or evocative ("What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas") or perhaps elegant (Hong Kong's "The Pearl of the Orient").

Bangkok's new slogan? 

"City of Angels, built by angels, central city of governance, brilliant temples and palaces, the capital of Thailand."

That's my translation of the motto, which was just unveiled by Bangkok's governor, the Thai-language outlet Khao Sod reports. I haven't seen an official English translation as of yet.

Perhaps you're assuming that, in Thai, this phrasing is graced with deft rhyming or alliterative touches. Not really. (Note that Thai people don't call their capital "Bangkok." They call it "Krung Thep," the city of angels.)

The slogan is both repetitive ("central city of governance" and "capital") as well as overly long.

Chosen via contest, the motto will soon grace 800 signs put up around the city, according to Bangkok's governor. Khao Sod reports that the slogan is intended for Bangkok locals, Thais across the country and foreign tourists. Part of the new motto's rationale is helping reinforce Bangkok's well-deserved "World's Best City" ranking from Travel & Leisure Magazine three years in a row.

Presumably, the city will offer a translation. So here's an unsolicited suggestion to Bangkok's city hall: instead of presenting the slogan to foreigners as is, consider taking out your red marker and reducing it to a simple and classy "City of Angels."

I suspect the phrasing "central city of governance" is unlikely to beckon tourists from afar or stir much sentiment among Thais at home.