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Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex World Heritage Site

Complexe forestier de Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai, Thailand

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Dong Phaya Yen or Dong Phya Yen (Thai: ทิวเขาดงพระยาเย็น, Thai pronunciation: [doŋ pʰajaː jen], lit. Jungle of the Cold Lord) is a mountain range in Phetchabun, Chaiyaphum, Lopburi, Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima Provinces, Thailand.

Since the Dong Phaya Yen is less compact and lower in height than the mountain ranges to the north and to the south, the first roads and railroads communicating the vast region of Isan with the capital Bangkok were built across these mountains. Before the construction of the railroad in the beginning of the 20th century, communication between these two parts of Thailand was difficult. The survey for building of the Northeastern Line of the State Railway of Thailand began in 1887.

The Dong Phaya Yen Mountains consist mainly of a range of scattered medium-height hills stretching southwards of the Phetchabun mountains in an arch until reaching the northern side of the Sankamphaeng Range. The mountain chain has a length of about 170 km and reaches a maximum altitude of 1,167 m above sea level at Phu Khing at the northern end. Other peaks are 900 m high Khao Phang Yai, 767 m high Khao Kheuan Lan, 782 m high Khao Cham Dot, 718 m high Khao Chalong Tong, 745 m high Khao Chan Luang, 722 m high Khao Lom, 722 m high Khao Sawong, 721 m high Khao Wong Chan Daeng, 689 m high Khao Phrik, 695 m high Khao Somphot, 657 m high Khao Kradon, 676 m high Khao Inthaya, 683 m high Khao Mot Ngam, 655 m high Khao Plai Khlong Kum and 575 m high Khao Sadao.

The northern limit of the Phetchabun massif is not clearly defined, roughly beginning south of the 16th parallel north where the ranges forming the Phetchabun system become a group of scattered mountains of lesser height, rarely surpassing 800 m, extending southwards. The eastern mountain chain of the Phetchabun Range is mentioned as the Phang Hoei Range in some geographical works, a name that encompasses the whole northern section of the Dong Phaya Yen mountain system, for Khao Phang Hoei is a 1008 m high summit located west of Chaiyaphum town, beyond the southern end of the Phetchabun Range proper in the northern halfo of the Dong Phaya Yen.

The Dong Phaya Yen range divides the Chao Phraya river valley of Central Thailand and the Khorat Plateau of the northeast. The mountains are drained to the east by several tributaries to the Chi and the Mun and to the west by tributaries of the Pa Sak River.

This whole mountainous region was covered by thick forest and was formerly known as Dong Phaya Fai or "Jungle of the Fire Lord". There were no roads, hence it was not possible to use a cart and travel across the forest had to be on foot or using palanquins. The whole area was reputed to be unhealthy and travelers who dared to pass through the woods exposed themselves to malaria and other illnesses. By mid-19th century, when the clearing of the area began, Vice King (Uparaja) Pinklao changed the name of the forest from Dong Phaya Fai to Dong Phaya Yen to imply that "the wild forest had been tamed".

By 1887 the Siamese government decided to build a railway line from Bangkok to Korat through Ayutthaya and commissioned British Railway Contractors to make a survey. The first section of what is now the Northeastern line, the railway line to Korat across the mountains opened in 1900. Much of the original forest cover of the mountains was destroyed since the beginning of 20th century. Following the completion of the line settlements were built in the area and trees were cut and land converted to agricultural use.

Until quite recently only the railroad from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima and one highway crossed the system. Deforestation increased as the building of more roads connecting Central Thailand and Isaan began in earnest. Thailand Route 2, also known as 'Mittraphap Road', the main road crossing the range between Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima, was built in 1950.

The Luak ridge in morning fog with the Sonthi valley in front

Rock formations at Pa Hin Ngam National Park

Siam Tulip at Pa Hin Ngam National park

Khao Kok Tako and the Pa Sak Cholasit Dam

These mountains, together with the Sankamphaeng Range at their southern limit, form the Dong Phayayen - Khao Yai Forest Complex, which includes several national parks. This area was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Altogether 6155 km² are protected in the complex.

Other protected areas located in the Dong Phaya Yen mountains are:

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Points of interest in Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex

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Nearest protected areas

Pang Sida

Thap Lan

Dong Yai


Official Record

  • WDPA ID902480
  • NameDong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex
  • Original NameComplexe forestier de Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai
  • Country / TerritoryTHA
  • Sub locationTH-30
  • IUCN CategoryNot ApplicableWhat is this?
  • English DesignationWorld Heritage Site
  • Designation TypeInternational
  • StatusInscribed
  • Status Year2005
  • Reported Area km26155.0
  • Marinefalse
  • Governance TypeNot Reported
  • International Criteria(x)
  • Management AuthorityNot Reported
  • Management Plan URLNot Reported




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Official Data Provider

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Centre for Nature Conservation (ARCBC) (2004)

The boundaries and names shown, and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.


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  • Iucn_red_white_small Logogbif

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