Thai Cabinet approves UNESCO Heritage Status for Songkhla

Photo courtesy of Museum Thailand

Thailand has set its sights on securing UNESCO World Heritage status for four ancient towns nestled within the southern province of Songkhla. The Cabinet’s resounding approval on April 9, marks a pivotal step towards immortalising the rich cultural tapestry of this southern gem.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has been tasked with crafting a proposal that was scheduled for submission to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre by April 15. Eyes are now eagerly fixed on the 46th session of the World Heritage Committee, scheduled to convene in New Delhi, India, from July 21 to 31, where the fate of Songkhla’s heritage hangs in the balance.

Under the banner of the ambitious project, Songkhla and its Associated Lagoon Settlements, these hallowed areas span four districts: Ranot, Sathing Phra, Singhanakhon, and Mueang Songkhla. At the heart of this endeavour lies Songkhla Lagoon, a shimmering expanse revered as Thailand’s sole brackish water lagoon, steeped in centuries of unique cultural customs.

Among the cherished treasures awaiting recognition are Phang Yang, Phakho, and Si Yang; the venerable precincts of Sathing Phra; the storied grounds of Pom Khai Singkora; and the venerable allure of Songkhla Old Town and Bo Yang, reported Pattaya Mail.

Thailand aims to bolster its roster of cultural world heritage sites, currently standing at a proud tally of four: the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns, the Historic City of Ayutthaya, the Ban Chiang Archaeological Site, and the Ancient Town of Si Thep and its Associated Dvaravati Monuments.

ORIGINAL STORY: Thailand proposes four Songkhla town clusters for UNESCO list

A proposal for the inclusion of four historic town clusters located in the southern province of Songkhla in UNESCO’s tentative list of potential new world heritage sites has been forwarded by Thailand’s national committee on the World Heritage Convention. The recommendation was made yesterday, with the old town clusters representing communities and sites linked to Songkhla Lake.

The committee meeting, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Phatcharavat Wongsuwan, identified the clusters as the Phang Yang, Phakho, and Si Yang old towns, the Sathing Phra old town, the Pom Khai Singkora and the Laem Son old towns, and the Songkhla and the Bo Yang old towns. These historic towns are spread across the districts of Mueang, Ranot, Sathing Phra, and Singha Nakhon.

For the recommendation to progress, the proposal will be presented to the Cabinet before its submission to the Unesco World Heritage Centre. The timing is strategic, aiming to coincide with the 46th session of the World Heritage Committee in New Delhi, scheduled for July 21 to July 31.

In addition to this, the committee acknowledged the tentative list nomination proposal of Phu Phra Bat Historical Park in the Ban Phue district, located in the northeastern province of Udon Thani. This significant site could be included in Unesco’s tentative list soon, reported Bangkok Post.

The committee also instructed the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning and the Fine Arts Department to expedite coordination work for a separate nomination proposal. This proposal, suggested by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, involves the entire province of Nan, to designate it as a new World Heritage site.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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