History buffs listen up. This little known and tragically under-rated UNESCO site is for you. If you are interested in our ancient origins, and find yourself in Northern Thailand, then this is a must read.
Where is Ban Chiang, and Why Should You Go?
Ban Chiang is located in Northern Thailand, in the Udon Thani province, about 35 kilometres east of the city of Udon Thani. The town is named after the important ancient Ban Chiang civilization that was based here.
So what is so important about Ban Chiang? Well that would be the massive archaeological dig that occurred here. The dig began in 1966, uncovering a substantial amount of incredible artifacts dating back to 3600 BC. The most iconic and important of these discoveries are the signature Ban Chiang pottery.
If the origins of human civilization interest you, if archaeological digs interest you, or if you are just a sucker for history, then Ban Chiang is worth a visit.
Ban Chiang was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1992.
How to get to Ban Chiang
Most travellers visit Ban Chiang as a day trip from Udan Thani. The town is very small, with not much that is noteworthy other than the museum, archaeological site and small market, so a day trip is very doable. We decided to stay over night in the village. We travelled by bus from the National Park of Phu Kradong (where I epicly pulled a muscle I didn’t even know I had) to the small town of Ban Chiang. Luckily the town is small, so I managed to get everywhere I needed to go by hobbling.
24 Hours in Ban Chiang
You can easily see the main sites of Ban Chiang in one day. Unless you want to get away from it all, I wouldn’t say that staying over night is necessary. However, I did spend a night in the town and found it quiet, friendly and relaxing.
Ban Chiang National Museum – This museum is home to the finds of the archaeological digs in the region. The museum is modern, well laid out, interesting and features lengthy and in depth explanations in English. Like most archaeological museums, you will see a lot of jewellery, pottery shards, tools and other artifacts. The real stars of the show are the beautifully painted pots which have been lovingly reconstructed and are on centre display in the museum.
Ban Chiang Archaeological Site – My favourite attraction in Ban Chiang is the excavation site. Here you can walk around an excavation site complete with half buried jars and exposed human remains. You can see different levels of the earth, illustrating just how the different burials and artifact layers have changed through out Ban Chiangs history. I recommend visiting the excavation site before visiting the museum. This will help really bring the artifacts in the museum to life.
Where to next?
Ban Chiang is most easily visited as a day trip from Udon Thani. Udan Thani is a great base for making the border crossing into Laos.