When you get the urge to explore a unique place but don’t want to go on a long expedition, Lopburi is a great place to visit. Located only 155km from Bangkok, you can get there in about 2.5 to 3 hours and spend the whole day discovering the city’s ancient temples and foreign embassies. And, of course, you should say hi to the famed monkeys… Below is more info on Lopburi’s main sights and its unusual inhabitants.
Phra Prang Sam Yot
Just about 200 meters from the train station is Phra Prang Sam Yot, Lopburi’s main attraction. It was built as a Hindu shrine by the Khmer in the 13th century but was converted to a Buddhist shrine by King Narai the great. Its three prangs are well preserved and offer a great place to study the Khmer style without having to go all the way to Cambodia.
But it’s not just the beautiful architecture that attracts many visitors to this place. Phra Prang Sam Yot is also the main home of the city’s many monkeys! They live on and around the shrine and are quite keen on meeting the visitors. The monkeys are very curious and love everything that looks like it can be eaten or played with, so make sure to pack whatever you don’t want them to steal.
If you would like to feed these new furry friends, bring some fruit or corn for them or buy these from the local vendors. This is sure to make you the centre of attention and will give you great opportunities for cool pictures. Young explorers will especially have fun with this. A word of caution though… don’t make any quick movements that could cause the monkeys to feel threatened. In such case, being bitten or scratched is a possibility. Encourage your children to be calm around the monkeys.
Phra Narai Ratchaniwet
This compound was built in the late 17th century and is located in the centre of the old town. It was constructed by King Narai the Great who wanted Lopburi to be a cultural hub and the second capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.
Today you can freely walk around the many buildings which have a strong Khmer influence but also feature some distinctly European characteristics. This mix of styles resulted from King Narai’s love of foreign ideas and styles, which led him to invite French architects to assist with the design and construction of his palace.
Take a stroll around the expansive grounds and marvel at the impressive buildings. You can see the former throne hall and learn about life at the Thai court or visit the adjacent museum to learn more about the geological and archeological history of Lopburi province and the rest of Thailand. Guests of all ages will find it interesting to learn about how life in Thailand has developed and changed over the centuries.
Wat Sao Thong
Located very close to Phra Narai Ratchaniwet, this temple is quite special. Although it is a Buddhist temple now, it is said that it was built for another religion originally. This is quite likely as the temple is in what used to be a Persian neighborhood that was predominantly Muslim. Today the temple features a large sitting Buddha in a beautiful shrine hall, making this place well worth a visit.
This old mansion was constructed during the reign of King Narai the Great and is a tribute to his good relations with countries around the world. It was built to house the first group of French ambassadors that came to Thailand in 1685 and was later home to a Greek government official and royal minister. Today, the ruins of a Christian church, the main residence and some smaller structures are waiting to be explored.
How to get there:
From Bangkok, you can take either the bus for about THB 150 or the train for between THB 100 and THB 300 depending on whether you want to take 1st, 2nd or 3rd class. Alternatively, you can travel by car and take the highway north past Ayutthaya and Bang Pa In.