Mueang Boran – The Ancient City

Mueang Boran (เมืองโบราณ) means literally translated ‘Ancient City’ and is accordingly referred to as ‘Ancient Siam’. It is a park and probably the world’s largest outdoor museum created by Khun Lek Viriyaphant (1914-2000) who also constructed the Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan. Visiting Mueang Boran can be compared to a Thailand-round journey within a day!

The Ancient City

At the Ancient City, Samut Prakan**

At the Ancient City, Samut Prakan**

Mueang Boran, created in the early 1970s, is also located near Samut Prakan in close proximity to the Crocodile farm, about 30 km south-east of central Bangkok, near the coast to the Gulf of Thailand.

At one of the 'Salas' in Mueang Boran*

Amazing architecture at one of the ‘Salas’ in Mueang Boran*

This museum park has the shape of Thailand and spreads over 200 acres. What is more, it features 116 miniature structures of Thailand’s famous monuments and architectural attractions of various provinces such as Prasat Hin Phanom Rung, Wat Mahathat Sukhothai, Phraphuttabat Saraburi, Phrathat Mueang Nakhon, Phrathat Chaiya and many more.

A historical Thai building**

A historical Thai building at Mueang Boran**

Apart from replicas of historical buildings, you may also encounter stunning mythical beings from Thai culture like the Naga which is the mythical snake.

The Naga-Makara - Mythical Snake and Crocodile Composite'

The Naga-Makara – Mythical Snake and Crocodile Composite*

Hence, historical structures are saved in this way and the park can be regarded as an educational area preserving Thai culture and historic building techniques. A dedicated team of local artisans work alongside experts from the National Museum of Thailand. Hence, you also find woodcarvers and other craftsmen at work there.

A woodcarver at work in Mueng Boran**

A woodcarver at work in Mueng Boran**

A craftsman at work**

A craftsman at work, Samut Prakan, Ancient Siam**

However, not all buildings are miniature, there are also some full-size replicas of existing or former sites.

Monuments from Thai history at the Ancient City*

Monuments from Thai history at the Ancient City*

The facsimiles have been created with the help and assistance of experts from the National Museum in order to ensure historical accuracy. The most outstanding structure of the Ancient City is the Grand Palace of Ayutthaya which was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. Further extraordinary replicas are the Phimai Sanctuary in Nakhon Ratchasima, and Wat Khao Phra Viharn located on the border to Cambodia.

Replicas at Mueang Boran*

Chinese style replicas at Mueang Boran*

In the museum park, there are artificial watercourses and mountains. Sometimes you can also spot some shy red-deers that browse the green areas. Apart from the 116 monuments, there are many statues which represent famous incidents in Thai history or literature. For instance, the following picture shows the Dvaravati Buddha at the Stupa of Phra Maha That, Chaiya, Surat Thani.

I think this is the Dvaravati Buddha statue*

I think this is the Buddha Image of the Dvaravati Period, Ancient City*

The Buddha's face*

The Buddha’s face, Dvaravati Period*

Generally, the museum presents different periods of Siamese craftsmenship ranging from prehistorical times, Dvaravati, Srivichaya, Khmer to Lanna, Lan Chang, Hariphunchai and Sukhothai. The following periods called Authong, Ayutthaya, Thonburi and Rattanakosin are also represented there.

A re-creation at the Ancient City**

A re-creation at the Ancient City**

The landmarks are all in geographical order. Visitors of the museum receive a map in which all monuments are listed and numbered consecutively. Apart from the replicas there are also rare traditional folk arts and cultures. However, sustenance is also provided there – check out the restaurants, food and drink outlets and the Floating Market 🙂

A waterway at Mueang Boran**

A waterway at Mueang Boran**

If you wonder how to move around the large park area, you may hire a golf cart or a bicycle. In addition, private vehicles are also allowed at a fee.

Amazing sight at the Ancient City**

Amazing sight at the Ancient City**

Finally, we may claim that the Ancient City is an extraordinary outdoor museum that brings Thailand’s history under one roof. Hence, this park also helps to preserve Thailand’s rich cultural heritage.

Yours, Sirinya

(photo credit: *Amporn Konglapumnuay, ** Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)




The Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan

The Erawan Museum is located on Sukhumvit Road in Samut Prakan province, south of Klong Samrong, Thailand. In fact, it is a museum and a temple combined created by Khun Lek Viriyapant (1914-2000) who is also the architect of the Ancient City (Mueang Boran). Thus, it can be considered a place preserving Thai heritage through visual arts and religion. In addition, the museum is surrounded by an amazing tropical garden including some unique Thai sculptures.

The Erawan Museum

The Erawan Museum*

The Erawan Museum*

Even though this place is outside Bangkok, it is merely a few kilometres away from Bang Na BTS station. This museum is famous for its gigantic three-headed elephant which is 43,6 metres high and weights around 250 tons. There are Hindu gods in Thai culture and Erawan is the vehicle of Indra, the god of Tavatimsa heaven which is located on top of Mount Meru in Buddhist cosmology.

Upstairs to heaven*

Upstairs to heaven*

In fact, the inside of the museum is constructed to represent the Hindu image of the universe. Hence, there is the underworld (1st floor), earth or human world (2nd floor), and heaven (top floor). The latter is located in the elephant’s belly whereas the other two are inside the pedestal.

The pedestal, caption the beautiful colours*

The pedestal, caption the beautiful colours*

The first floor or the basement section, which is supposed to stand for the underworld, contains a private collection of ceramics and art belonging to the museum owner Lek Viriyapant. Hence, there is a great collection of Chinese vases from the Ming and Qinq dynasties and a history and overview of the museum’s construction in the form of photographs and wall placards.

Statue and Chinese vases*

Statue and Chinese vases*

In the second floor that represents the earth, there are precious arts and antiques stored. Among the collector pieces there are also European ceramics. What is more, there is Guanyin, the Chinese Goddess with a thousand arms, who is the female representation of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion. This floor includes also the area around the rounded staircase and the stuccowork.

The intricate staircase*

The intricate staircase*

Indeed, the cream and blue colours are reminiscent of an Italian or more specifically, a Venetian design 🙂 This impression is reinforced by the stunning rounded stained glass window which was created by the German artist and glass painter Jakob Schwarzkopf (1926-2001).

The glass window reminscent of an Italian design*

The glass window is reminiscent of an Italian design*

The top floor representing the Tavatimsa heaven is rather cool, dark and cave-like. There is a Buddhist shrine which reaches towards heaven, some Buddha relics and old Buddha images from different eras like Ayutthaya, Lanna, Lopburi and Rattanakosin. There are paintings on the wall depicting the cosmos which were also designed by the German artist Schwarzkopf.

The Buddha shrine on the top floor*

The Buddha shrine on the top floor*

I think this is an amazing but also versatile place. Hence, apart from the museum, you can also enjoy a stroll around the marvellous tropical garden.

The tropical garden at the museum*

The tropical garden at the museum*

Summing up, we can say that the Erawan Museum with its three-headed elephant is one of the most unique and awesome places to visit near Bangkok.

Yours, Sirinya

(*photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)