International heritage experts have toured famous sites in Chiang Mai as part of a push for the city to become a UNESCO World Heritage site
The experts, who by all reports enjoyed their tour, are in town for the “The World Heritage International Convention: Integration of Historic Cities and Their Natural Settings for Sustainable Development” conference being held at the Chiang Mai Convention Center Sept. 10-14.
The conference itself saw multiple presentations from representatives from Asia and Europe on the importance of preserving historical culture.
A push for Chiang Mai to be given UNESCO World Heritage status for “Monuments, Sites and Cultural Landscape” dates back to 2014. The Nationa reported in 2015 that the push required government support given that a number of other locations in Thailand are current possibilities for nomination.
The Thai government placed Chiang Mai on a “tentative” list for support in 2015, saying that “after more than 700 years of growth and expansion, the physical and intangible confirmation of the city as a masterpiece of creative and visionary urban planning are still in evidence.”
“It includes the moats, the walls, the gates and the corners, the 40 ancient temples within the city walls, and hundreds more outside, together with the marketplaces, and the different communities of diverse ethnic groups and cultures,” the listing adds.
A formal application for Chiang Mai for submission is said to have been finalized this month but Matichon reports that an application does not assure success given that the city is experiencing “urban management problems.”
Existing world heritage sites in Thailand include Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, both capitals of their respective former empires.
One argument being pushed is that Chiang Mai, as the capital of Lanna Empire, should gain similar status, however, in the case of the other two the historical city centers have been mostly preserved whereas Chiang Mai is a mix of old and new.
One expert quoted by Matichon claims that Doi Suthep alone should have a world heritage listing as it’s sacred, comparing it to Mount Fuji in Japan.
More details on Chiang Mai’s push for world heritage status can be read about in English here.