Although quite a large country, with a population of 67.5 million people, Thailand only has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Compare that to Spain’s 42 and Great Britain’s 28 and you know, right away, being able to see all of Thailand’s World Heritage Sites is actually quite easy. With just five sites though, it’s surprising how much each site has to offer. Ancient ruined temples, enormous tropical forests, wildlife sanctuaries and archaeological digs. If you’ll be in Thailand in the next few years, don’t miss seeing these five sites, before UNESCO adds several more.
Ayuthaya succeeded Sukhothai (another World Heritage) as capital of Siam (now Thailand) during the 15th century. 417 years later, Bangkok took over from Ayuthaya.
The income of the city came from agricultural products, and from duties levied against foreign trade. From the 16th century, European visitors from Portugal, France, Holland and England were received in Ayuthaya. The Europeans were very impressed at the wealth they encountered. At its height, Ayuthaya was one of the most important trading centers in the area.
In 1767, as a result of 2 years of war, Ayuthaya was conquered by the Burmese army. They destroyed everything that was sacred to the Thais. The city became abandoned, and fell into ruins. More Info…
Sukhothai was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was built by the Khmers and taken over by the Thais in 1230. The Thai language and alphabet originated here, the last was invented in 1283 by the famous King Ramkhamhaeng as a revision of various forms of Khmer alphabets into a system suitable for the writing of Thai words.
The same king made Sukhothai a powerful kingdom which included many parts of what are today neighboring countries. A number of ancient cities paid him tribute. King Ramkhamhaeng also opened direct political relations with China and made two trips to China (the first in 1282 to visit the Emperor Kublai Khan).
Within the walls of Sukhothai are the ruins of twenty wats (temples) and monuments, the greatest of which is Wat Mahathat. The beauty of water, for example via pools with lotuses, was also used to enhance the spiritual aspect of the wats. More Info…
Ban Chiang is considered the most important prehistoric settlement discovered in South-East Asia. Discovered in 1957 it attracted enormous publicity due to attractive red painted pottery. The first scientific excavation was made in 1967 and uncovered several skeletons together with bronze grave gifts. Rice fragments have also been found, which prove that the Bronze Age settlement was made by farmers. The oldest graves found contain no bronze and are therefore from a Neolithic culture; the latest ones are from the Iron Age. More Info…
The Thungyai and Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries hold a high diversity in plant and animal species. These contiguous parks are located in the west of Thailand along the Burmese border.
Stretching over more than 600,000 ha along the Myanmar border, the 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. More Info…
The Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex spans 230 km between Ta Phraya National Park on the Cambodian border in the east, and Khao Yai National Park in the west. The site is home to more than 800 species of fauna, including 112 mammal species (among them two species of gibbon), 392 bird species and 200 reptile and amphibian species. It is internationally important for the conservation of globally threatened and endangered mammal, bird and reptile species, among them 19 that are vulnerable, four that are endangered, and one that is critically endangered. The area contains substantial and important tropical forest ecosystems, which can provide a viable habitat for the long-term survival of these species. Khao Yai, established in 1962, was Thailand’s first national park. It now sees some 700.000 visitors a year. More Info…
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