At present, there are four sites in Thailand which are on UNESCO’s World Heritage list: They are the historic town of Sukhothai and associated historic towns; the historic city of Ayutthaya and associated historic towns; the Thung Yai-Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary; and the Ban Chiang archaeological site.
(1) Ban Chiang is considered the most important prehistoric settlement so far discovered in South-East Asia. It marks an important stage in human cultural, social and technological evolution. The site presents the earliest evidence of farming in the region and of the manufacture and use of metals.
(2) Founded c. 1350, Ayutthaya became the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. It was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century. Its remains, characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries, give an idea of its past splendour.
(3) Sukhothai was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries. It has a number of fine monuments, illustrating the beginnings of Thai architecture. The great civilization which evolved in the Kingdom of Sukhothai absorbed numerous influences and ancient local traditions; the rapid assimilation of all these elements forged what is known as the ‘Sukhothai style’.
(4) Stretching over more than 600,000 ha along the Myanmar border, Thungyai – Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries, which are relatively intact, contain examples of almost all the forest types of continental South-East Asia. They are home to a very diverse array of animals, including 77% of the large mammals (especially elephants and tigers), 50% of the large birds and 33% of the land vertebrates to be found in this region.
Thailand has now submitted a further 12 cultural and natural locations for UNESCO to consider adding to the World Heritage list. The proposed sites consist of eight cultural and four natural locations.
The cultural sites are the historical remains of Prasat Hin Phimai, Prasat Hin Phanom Rung and Prasat Muang Tam; Phu Phrabat historical park in Udon Thani; a scenic strip along the Chao Phya River between King Rama I Bridge and Wasukri Pier; Bangkok’s Benjamabophit temple; Wat Suthat and its giant swing; Wat Ratchanadda; Pathom Chedi; and a prehistoric site in Nan.
The natural sites are the Andaman Sea coastal area, Kaeng Krachan National Park, the Phetchabun mountain forests and national parks, and Khao Yai-Dong Phaya Yen forests.
A decision is not expected to be made for at least another two years. In the meantime, if you haven’t visited any of these sites, then you should make an effort the next time you are in Thailand. You can view pictures of some of these sites in my Photo Album. I’ll add some more albums tomorrow.
World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.