Thai literature dates back to the Sukhothai Period, beginning in 1238AD. An abundance of literary work has since been discovered, and each piece of writing is unique and highlights different aspects of Thai culture. From narrative poems to dramatic literature, the subject matter and overall quality of these literary pieces are certainly noteworthy. It may be because of this that there are a number of different literary landmarks in Thailand. Here, the top ones you should visit.
Found in the north of Thailand is Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, a 12th century Lanna temple. The temple is home to a pavilion that houses different Buddhist scriptures. The pavilion itself is a work of art, with unique roofing. The temple is an important place of worship for those practicing Buddhism, and it is also home to an old wooden library, or the Ho Trai. The scriptures are protected from natural elements, such as flooding, as it sits atop a three-meter high base, painted bright red. The structure housing the scriptures is meticulously carved, with impressive designs throughout.
Those travelers making their way to the island of Ko Samet have an abundance of things to see and do. While the original draw to visit this island might be its white, sandy beaches or national park, there are also a number of literary statue that are well worth a photo op. The island is home to a number of sporadically placed statues, each with its own personal story as to what it represents. The statue of the mermaid and the prince in Ao Hin Khok beach is based on a 150-year-old story written by Sunthorn Phu, a Thai poet who lived in the 19th century. He is oftentimes referred to as Thailand’s Shakespeare, and he is certainly the country’s most well-known poet. On Sai Kaew Beach, you will find a relatively new statue of a different mermaid. The statue’s creator was inspired by characters from Phu’s work as well, and it reflects the connection between mother nature and the things she cares for. With the creation of this statue came the revamp of this area, with new landscaping, signs, and even a parking lot.
Isan is located in northeastern Thailand, an area best known for its small, rural towns and stunning national parks. Not many visitors get the chance to visit this part of Thailand, as it is more difficult to get to, as well as a more obscure area with less accommodation for tourists. That being said, foreigners who can’t make it there, but are hoping to learn more about Isan, should visit the Isan Arts and Cultural Center, located in Bangkok. The center is found on the ground floor of Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University. This center gives visitors a unique opportunity to explore a region tourists hardly have the opportunity to see. It was also created in hopes of preserving the art, literature, and culture of Isan. In addition to an abundance of artwork and handicrafts, visitors will find palm-leaf manuscripts of Isan literature.
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is a meeting place for artists. It fosters cultural exchange and encourages creativity, with artistic content spaced throughout its beautiful structure. The Library Hall, or L floor, is home to a large foyer that is used for both exhibitions and activities. The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is also home to the Bangkok Book Festival: Literary Weekend. Every year, different speakers and authors come together for one weekend to talk about all things literary, from Thailand’s copyright laws to upcoming writers.
Trees and plants mentioned throughout Thai literature can be found at the Central Literature Botanic Garden in Khao Prathap Chang in Ratchaburi. This hillside garden sits opposite the Khao Bin Cave. It is here you will find a variety of different plants, all of which have been written about in Thai literature at some point. There are several different gardens within the Central Literature Botanic Garden, including a herb garden, a Buddhist plant garden, and a propitious garden. Visitors are welcome to meander down several nature trails found here, each lined with tree plots that are related to Thai literature. The garden is open daily from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
Sunthorn Phu is a famous Thai poet and writer, and there are a handful of monuments around Thailand that were built in his memory. He lived during the Rattanakosin Era, and he was even honored by UNESCO for his work. The statue found in the Sunthorn Phu Memorial Park is a replica of the poet himself, and it is surrounded by characters from his works. The park is found in Baan Kram, a small village in Rayong. This park is also the site of the celebration of Phu’s birthday, where people gather for live performances and shows in honor of one of Thailand’s most well-known writers.