11 July 2024

For those who love roaming around historical parks and ancient sites by day to be captivated by their mystic beauty, the thrill can now reach new heights. This holiday season, the Fine Arts Department of Thailand (FAD) is poised to enhance your experience by illuminating renowned ancient towns across the country, inviting visitors to delve into their allure in a play of light and shadow.

Integral to the Thailand Winter Festival, the illumination initiative is designed to unveil historical sites after dark, offering a unique opportunity for the public and tourists to immerse themselves in the allure of these ancient places after nightfall. The transformation of historical sites, bathed in a gentle luminosity, promises to create a breathtaking spectacle, leaving an indelible impression on both locals and travellers alike.

“As part of the Thailand Winter Festival, the Fine Arts Department has orchestrated activities to boost tourism at cultural heritage sites throughout Thailand,” Phnombootra Chandrajoti, Director General of the Fine Arts Department, tells Thai PBS World.

In the heart of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya province, Wat Chaiwatthanaram becomes the focal point, inviting travellers to “Tonight at Wat Chaiwatthanaram”. Unfolding every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays from 6pm to 10pm from October to December, this event goes beyond showcasing the temple grounds’ radiance.

Visitors enjoy a night trip to Wat Chaiwatthanaram Ayutthaya province.

It transforms into a cultural extravaganza where visitors can immerse themselves in traditional performances, hands-on craft exhibitions, cultural discussions, a photo competition, and even don traditional Thai attire. These dynamic elements weave an intricate a tapestry of vibrant cultural experiences.

In the northern region, night owls are encouraged to delve into the mystical allure of Kamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai, and Chiang Mai provinces.

Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, invites visitors to enter its ancient site within the city walls, including Wat Phra Kaeo and Wat Phra That, from October to December.

Embark on a nocturnal journey to Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park, where mystic beauty unfolds under the night sky. Photo by FAD

Between 6:30pm and 9pm, guests can navigate the historical monuments and take part in guided lectures available in both Thai and English, immersing themselves in the cultural richness of this extraordinary site amid the enchanting evening hours.

Approximately 80 kilometres north, Sukhothai Historical Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, beckons visitors to embark on a unique nocturnal adventure. Extending its opening hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout December and January, a welcoming ambience is fostered from 6.30pm to 9pm.

Sukhothai Historical Park comes alive after dark, casting captivating scenes of light and shadow. Photo by FAD

This ancient capital of Siam, now Thailand, promises a captivating experience as visitors immerse themselves in the historical splendour of Sukhothai brought to life by the interplay of light and shadow.

Adding to the enchanting ambience of the Thailand Winter Festival, the Wiang Kum Kam Historical Site in Chiang Mai province sets the scene for “Aew Kum Kam Yum Laeng” or “Twilight in Wiang Kum Kam” on December 1 and 2, from 4pm to 9pm.

Visitors can anticipate captivating architectural lighting illuminating the space between Wat E-Kang and Wat Nantaram. With a history and myths spanning over 700 years, Wiang Kum Kam was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom until the Ping River flooded and submerged the entire city.

Beyond the mesmerising lighting-up display, “Kad Kum Kam @ Nigh” provides the opportunity to indulge in local food and handicraft products, alongside various activity booths.

Moreover, visitors can revel in performances by the Cultural Office under the theme “Khong Khem Nai Wiang”, featuring a khon (traditional Thai masked dance) performance depicting the Ramayana. The showcase includes costumes, musical instruments, and war elephants, intricately designed with special lighting, colours, and sound techniques to complement the historical backdrop of Wiang Kum Kam.

Meanwhile, in Nakhon Ratchasima province, Northeastern Thailand, Phimai Historical Park takes centre stage as it illuminates the ancient monument. Enthusiasts of ancient Khmer ruins can explore the monument during the evening hours through the “Phimai Night: Light Up” event. This distinctive experience unfolds every Friday, Saturday, and public holiday from December 1 to January 27 between 6pm and 8pm.

Phimai Historical Park illuminates its ancient wonders for night visits, welcoming guests from 6 pm to 8 pm. Photo by FAD

For the first time, visitors can access the innermost areas of the historical site during the night including Phimai Monument, Meru Brahmathat, Naga Buddha, and the Jayavarman VII sculpture.

Behold the serenity: A seated Naga Buddha sculpture on display at Phimai Historical Park. Photo by FAD

Phimai, historically significant during the Khmer Empire era, housed the key Khmer temple Prasat Hin Phimai, connected with Angkor through the Ancient Khmer Highway, and oriented to face Angkor as its cardinal direction.

For those in the bustling capital city, the Bangkok National Museum opens at night from 4pm to 8pm every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and public holiday between November 10 and December 31.

Sitting in the historic grounds of the former Front Palace (Wang Na), the National Museum Bangkok stands as a majestic gem in Southeast Asia. As the sun sets, visitors have a unique opportunity to pay homage to the revered Phra Buddha Sihing, the nation’s sacred Buddha image, and marvel at murals crafted during the early Rattanakosin era within the Phutthaisawan Throne Hall at this extraordinary museum.

By Thai PBS World Feature Desk