Let’s visit one of the oldest cities of Thailand
Lopburi is most known for the monkeys occupying the old part of town. Once you arrive the historical town you are being welcomed by thousands of monkeys populating streets, parks, and rooftops. The ancient town is located about 150 km. north of Bangkok on the Lop Buri Alluvial plain in the Pasak river basin.
A bit of history
Due to a very human-friendly environment, the town and region have been an economic, political, cultural, and religious center for over 4500 years now.
Historical sites have been found from the prehistoric period back 4500 – 1500 years in places around Lopburi.
The Dvaravati period lasted about 400 years beginning in the 7th century and still was before the actual town was built. The oldest ruin from this period can be seen behind the Lopburi train station. Sadly the sites are quite ruined and I think plundered as almost all Buddha statues have lost their heads and faces. Some of these sculptures can still be seen in the Lopburi Museum.
From the 11th – 13th century, the urbanization of Lopburi town began adapting the Khmer culture. Buddhism, Brahaminism, and Mahayana were practiced and left ruins we can see still today. The most famous remain of the Lop Buri period is the Prang Sam Yod, which is located right in the central Plaza near the train station.
The Ayutthaya period lasted from the 14th to the 18th century. During that time Lop Buri was an important trading and political center and during the reign of King Narai the Great, the town was promoted the second capital of Siam. Since the Rattanakosin period in late 1700, the town has been restored continuously until today.
Check out this video, it is in Thai language but still very informative
Lopburi Old Town, a relaxed place to spend some time
The old town center I find is a great place to do some strolls and enjoy a laid-back atmosphere. Some very low price guesthouses right in the center are perfect to stay a few days amongst backpackers from all over the world and the very friendly hosts.
There are several interesting sites one can easily visit by foot located all over the old town. Many buildings in town are built in all kinds of architectural styles, from traditional two-floor wooden buildings to tree, four-story concrete buildings built in some kind of European influenced manner.
There are remains of an ancient city wall, Kings Palast, water canals, all within a town with lots of big old trees leaving many places quite fresh and nice to look at. Of course, there are great markets to visit as well as the famous monkey center.
Lopburi is an intellectual city with many universities. Large areas are also occupied by the Thai army. There is a lively nightlife happening in the quarter behind the train station. Not like smaller places, here you can enjoy the cool evenings hanging in garden restaurants, play a pool with relaxed background music. Or you can even see Thai life rock shows at one place every night of the week.
Out of town you can see more attractions
If you feel like seeing more than what can be visited on foot you can do several trips out of town. Minibus operators offer tours to the different locations just behind the train station or even organized by the guesthouse you stay at.
Only about 7 km from Lopburi old town is the Wat Yang Na Rangsi, hosting an antique boat and lifestyle museum. The wat is located nicely at a lake in a quiet environment where you can see antique wooden boats, all kinds of old tools used in the area and beautiful old wooden traditional buildings. Its a nice place for a picknick day in nature.
Another center of interest, about 22 km away are the sites around Chin Lea (peacock) mountain. There are a lake, some temples, a bat cave and even a rock climbing area. The place is also famous for the huge sunflower fields planted around the steep limestone rock
If you miss the beach, you can visit the huge Lake Pesak Jolasid. The area near the dam, about 56 km from town, is formed into a nice park where many Thais come to have a picknick weekend day. The area has a fresh climate due to the wind coming from the big lake. Unfortunately, there is no watersports nor swimming allowed in the lake but the scenery and the many foods served, let you have a relaxed afternoon after visiting the sites around peacock mountain.
The place is well organized, you can rent a floormat to sit comfortable and guys on bikes come and take orders. Fresh grilled fish, iced water or beer and all kinds of Thai dishes are served wherever you choose to sit down. Toilets and even four-wheeled electro mobiles for rent are provided.
A little bijou, I found on the way to the Pesak Jolasid Dam (see here), the market is only open on weekends but the pottery is open every day.
Lopburi an almost must see if you travel around north of Bangkok.
Depending on your time schedule, you can spend one whole day or up to one week in the Lopburi town and province. I had a great time and met some very nice people there. Although I actually came to see the Monkeys Banquet, which unfortunately wasn’t held this year and probably won’t be repeated anymore, I had a great time and stayed a whole seven days.
If you don’t have too much time you can just visit all the historical sites downtown in one day, have an experience with the many monkeys and a relaxed evening in one of the garden restaurants.
Lopburi is located on the route to the from Bankok to the north, Ayuthaya, Lopburi, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, which is all connected with the same train lane, Bangkok-Chiang Mai. (see map)
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