Old Bangkok as part of World Heritage?

Taking the cue from Laos’ Luang Prabang, the governor of Bangkok wants to propose Rattanakosin, the royal and old city of Bangkok, to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wat Pho
photo credit: alex-s

Apirak wants Unesco to list Rattanakosin
Bangkok Post
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Apirak wants Unesco to list Rattanakosin

SUPOJ WANCHAROEN

Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin plans to push for the listing of the old Rattanakosin area in Bangkok as a World Heritage Site, like the old city of Luang Prabang in Laos.

Mr Apirak said he was confident he could persuade the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, or Unesco, to declare the Rattanakosin area in Phra Nakhon district, an inner precinct of Bangkok, as a World Heritage Site.

”In the Rattanakosin area, we have the Grand Palace and temples with long histories. What we will do is renovate buildings and houses in this area to bring them into harmony with the old structures and revive the culture and traditional way of living of Bangkok residents,” he said.

”For instance, there will be a morning market in that community, or regular alms-giving. With these things, the area will have sufficient potential to become a World Heritage Site.”

Deputy city clerk Anant Siripasaraporn said tourist revenue would increase if the area was listed as a World Heritage Site. World Heritage sites draw many foreign tourists.

”The important thing is to encourage residents to conserve their culture. Income from tourists should be generated among them, not fall into the hands of merchants or businessmen.”

Mr Apirak came up with the World Heritage idea after taking executives of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to visit Laos from June 11-13.

Khampheng Saysompheng, vice-governor of Luang Prabang province and president of the local heritage committee, said Luang Prabang had been proposed to Unesco since 1987. The province was declared a World Heritage Site in 1995.

Normally, old towns with historical values such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat would not take as long to be listed as World Heritage sites, he said.

For Luang Prabang, Unesco had to consider the town’s traditional way of living which was culturally significant and worthy of protection.

”Unesco wants to evaluate how long we can preserve our traditional way of living,” he said.

Now Luang Prabang makes US$80 million a year from tourism. Ten years ago, only 60,000 tourists visited the town a year, but that has now increased to 300,000, he said. The number of tourists is expected to increase to 500,000 a year in the next 10 years.

Mr Apirak said he would find ways to draw tourists to visit both Bangkok and Luang Prabang as a tour package.

Related Books:
Old Bangkok.
Reminiscences of Old Bangkok: Memory and the Indentification of a Changing Society
The Sights of Rattanakosin

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

3 thoughts on “Old Bangkok as part of World Heritage?”

  1. Strangely, already in 2005 that area was submitted to UNESCO for consideration as a future world heritage site – see this Nation article: http://nationmultimedia.com/search/page.arcview.php?clid=3&id=112421 Only at that time it wasn’t the whole Rattanakosin island, just a “scenic strip of the Chao Phraya river” between the Memorial Bridge (at the southern end of Rattanakosin island) and Wasukri Pier, further north than the island, which ends at the Pinklao Bridge. Which sites this was supposed to include I have no idea. I haven’t heard anything of this proposal ever since.

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