List of World Heritage Sites in Thailand

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designates World Heritage Sites of outstanding universal value to cultural or natural heritage which have been nominated by signatories to the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention.[1] Cultural heritage consists of monuments (such as architectural works, monumental sculptures, or inscriptions), groups of buildings, and sites (including archaeological sites). Natural features (consisting of physical and biological formations), geological and physiographical formations (including habitats of threatened species of animals and plants), and natural sites which are important from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty, are defined as natural heritage.[2] Thailand ratified the convention on 17 September 1987.[3]

Location of World Heritage Sites in Thailand. Gold dots indicate cultural sites, green dots are natural, and blue dots mark the locations of the Dong Phayayen–Khao Yai Forest Complex, which are also natural.

As of 2022, Thailand has six sites on the list. The first three sites were listed in 1991: Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns, Historic City of Ayutthaya, and Thungyai–Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries. The most recent site listed was the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex, in 2021.[3] Three of Thailand's sites are cultural and three are natural. Thailand also has seven sites on the tentative list.[3]

World Heritage Sites

UNESCO lists sites under ten criteria; each entry must meet at least one of the criteria. Criteria i through vi are cultural, and vii through x are natural.[4]

World Heritage Sites
Site Image Location (province) Year listed UNESCO data Description
Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns
Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet 1991 574; i, iii (cultural) The site comprises three main cities from the Sukhothai Kingdom which flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries. Sukhothai (Wat Mahathat pictured) was the capital of the kingdom, Si Satchanalai was a centre of religious life, with several Buddhist monasteries, and Kamphaeng Phet protected the borders and the kingdom's trade networks. The three cities shared town planning approaches and sophisticated water management systems. They were important in the development of the first distinct Siamese architectural style, literature, arts, and religious practices. The remains of the cities are now preserved as archaeological parks.[5]
Historic City of Ayutthaya Ayutthaya 1991 576; iii (cultural) The city of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and served as the capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, or Siam. It was a globally important city, a commercial centre with diplomatic connections in India, China, Japan, as well as in Europe. Exchange of cultural influences resulted in development of Thai national art, with richly decorated palaces and Buddhist monasteries. Ayutthaya was razed by the Burmese army in 1767 and it was never rebuilt. The capital moved to Bangkok and Ayutthaya is now preserved as an archaeological park. The ruins of Wat Chaiwatthanaram are pictured.[6]
Thungyai–Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries
Kanchanaburi, Tak, Uthai Thani 1991 591; vii, ix, x (natural) The site comprises two wildlife sanctuaries, Thung Yai Naresuan (pictured) and Huai Kha Khaeng. The sanctuaries, which stretch over more than 600,000 ha (1,500,000 acres) along the border with Myanmar, comprise a plethora of different habitats, including dry tropical forests, wetlands, limestone habitats, and mountains. It is also an area of high animal and plant biodiversity, representing species from Sino-Himalayan, Sundaic, Indo-Burmese, and Indo-Chinese regions. The forests are largely undisturbed by human influences.[7]
Ban Chiang Archaeological Site
Udon Thani 1992 575; iii (cultural) Ban Chiang is one of the most important prehistoric sites in Southeast Asia. It is a large earthen mound that was continuously occupied by a settled agricultural society between about 1500 BCE to 900 BCE. Discovered by archaeologists in 1966, the excavations uncovered large numbers of ceramic artifacts (museum exhibit pictured), as well as tools related to bronze-working, animal domestication, and wet rice agriculture.[8]
Dong Phayayen–Khao Yai Forest Complex
Saraburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Nayok, Prachinburi, Sa Kaeo, Buriram 2005 590; x (natural) The site comprises five protected areas in the Dong Phaya Yen Mountains and Sankamphaeng Range, namely Khao Yai (pictured), Thap Lan, Pang Sida and Ta Phraya National Parks, and Dong Yai Wildlife Sanctuary. Tropical forests are home to numerous animal and plant species, several of them endangered. Mammal species include the pileated gibbon, Asian elephant, tiger, leopard cat, and banteng.[9]
Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex
Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan 2021 1461; x (natural) The site comprises forests and wildlife reserves in the Tenasserim Hills: Kaeng Krachan, Kui Buri, and Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan national parks, and the Mae Nam Phachi Wildlife Sanctuary. Due to its location at the junction of the Himalayan, Indochina, and Sumatran faunal and floral realms, it is a biodiversity hotspot. Seasonal tropical forests are home to vulnerable and endangered species, including the dhole, Siamese crocodile, Asian forest tortoise, fishing cat, and clouded leopard.[10]

Tentative list

In addition to sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, member states can maintain a list of tentative sites that they may consider for nomination. Nominations for the World Heritage List are only accepted if the site was previously listed on the tentative list.[11] As of 2022, Thailand lists seven properties on its tentative list.[3]

Tentative sites
Site Image Location (province) Year listed UNESCO criteria Description
Phuphrabat Historical Park
Udon Thani 2004 ii, iii, iv, vi (cultural) The large sandstone rock formations in the area have inspired peoples throughout the centuries to build religious sites around them. Early shrines date to the Dvaravati period (dating between the 7th and 11th centuries). Shrines feature Hindu and Buddhist influences. There are also rock paintings dating to prehistoric times. The name Phuphrabat translates to the "Hill of Buddha's Footprints".[12]
Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan, Nakhon Si Thammarat
Nakhon Si Thammarat 2012 i, ii, vi (cultural) Wat Phra Mahathat is an important Buddhist temple (wat). The main stupa, Phra Borommathat Chedi, was constructed in the 13th century under the king Sri Dhammasokaraja to establish a symbol of Theravada Buddhism in the region. It is believed to house relics of Buddha. The architecture of the temple represents integration of influences from Sri Lanka with local traditions.[13]
Monuments, Sites and Cultural Landscape of Chiang Mai, Capital of Lanna
Chiang Mai 2015 i, ii, iii, vi (cultural) Chiang Mai was founded in 1296 as a capital of the Lanna Kingdom. Even though the area was taken over by the Burmese Toungoo dynasty in the 16th century and incorporated into Thailand in the 20th century, people of the Lanna civilization still preserve their cultural practices. The nomination covers the city of Chiang Mai and the surrounding area that prominently features numerous Buddhist temples.[14]
Phra That Phanom, its related historic buildings and associated landscape
Nakhon Phanom 2017 i, ii, vi (cultural) Wat Phra That Phanom is an ancient and most important Buddhist temple in the Mekong river valley. According to a local legend, the temple was founded shortly after Buddha's nirvana and is believed to house Buddha's relics. Archaeological excavations have found the earliest structures dating to the 7th or 8th century CE. The architectural style blends influences from India with those of Khmer and Cham civilizations. A renovation of the temple took place in the 1970s.[15]
Ensemble of Phanom Rung, Muang Tam and Plai Bat Sanctuaries
Buriram 2019 iii, iv, v (cultural) Phanom Rung is a Hindu temple complex constructed by the Khmer Empire between the 10th and 13th century. It is located on the rim of an extinct volcano overlooking the surrounding plains. It is dedicated to Shiva and is decorated with sculptures and stone carvings depicting scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics. In the plains, the remains of the water management system from the 15th to 18th century have been preserved.[16]
The Ancient Town of Si Thep
Phetchabun 2019 ii, iii (cultural) Si Thep was an important city of the Dvaravati culture (7th to 11th century CE), it was a commercial and religious centre. It next came under the Khmer influence and was ultimately abandoned by the late 13th century. Arts and architecture of Si Thep were influenced by Theravada Buddhism during the Dvaravati period and by Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism under the Khmer.[17]
The Andaman Sea Nature Reserves of Thailand
Ranong, Phang-nga, Phuket 2021 vii, ix, x (natural) This nomination covers six national parks and a mangrove conservation area along Thailand's Andaman Sea coast. The coast contains different types of ecosystems. In addition to mangrove forests, there are also tropical evergreen forests, karst mountains, sandy beeches, seagrass beds, coral reefs, and open sea habitats. Located at the meeting point of Indo-Chinese, Indo-Himalayan, and Sundic regions, the area is exceptionally high in biodiversity. Laem Son National Park is pictured.[18]

See also

References

  1. "The World Heritage Convention". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  2. "Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 1 February 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  3. "Thailand". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 1 December 2005. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  4. "UNESCO World Heritage Centre – The Criteria for Selection". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 12 June 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  5. "Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 26 July 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  6. "Historic City of Ayutthaya". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 23 October 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  7. "Thungyai–Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 14 July 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  8. "Ban Chiang Archaeological Site". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 3 August 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  9. "Dong Phayayen–Khao Yai Forest Complex". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 27 July 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  10. "Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 21 July 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  11. "Tentative Lists". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  12. "Phuphrabat Historical Park". UNESCO World Heritage Centre]. Archived from the original on 24 September 2020. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  13. "Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan, Nakhon Si Thammarat". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  14. "Monuments, Sites and Cultural Landscape of Chiang Mai, Capital of Lanna". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 19 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  15. "Phra That Phanom, its related historic buildings and associated landscape". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  16. "Ensemble of Phanom Rung, Muang Tam and Plai Bat Sanctuaries". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  17. "The Ancient Town of Si Thep". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  18. "The Andaman Sea Nature Reserves of Thailand". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Archived from the original on 13 January 2022. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
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