15 Things To Do In Lopburi
Lopburi, located in Central Thailand, is the country’s oldest city that still retains vestiges of the past Khmer Empire. Divided into two distinct parts –the New Town and the Old Town – Lopburi offers immersive sights and experiences, which is why the province finds itself in the bucket list of travelers.
There is quite a lot of history to the city since it was briefly the capital of Ayutthaya Kingdom. But what makes Lopburi unique is the presence of macaques who strut the street tops and co-habit with the city’s residents.
Lopburi is easily accessible from Bangkok and if you are in the vicinity, do not miss a visit to the city. There are quite a lot of things to see and do here, which would add to your travel escapades.
1. Monkeys and Towers of Prang Sam Yod
Phra Prang Sam Yod, which means ‘three holy prangs’, is Lopburi’s oldest landmark. It is a set of towers erected in the centre of the town by Khmer King Jayavarman VII. What makes this place unique is the thousands of macaque monkeys that have made this historical site their home. The monkeys can be aggressive and try to snatch personal belongings, so exercise caution when in proximity with the primates.
2. Witness King Narai Fair
An annual fair held in honour of King Narai the Great, a 17th century monarch, it is a celebratory event complete with music and a sound-and-light show. The fair takes place at the Phra Narai Rachaniwet, and if you are in Lopburi during this time, make sure to pay a visit. You can enjoy the festivities, the ceremonies, and the market.
3. Stroll Around Phra Narai Ratchaniwet
Phra Narai Ratchaniwet is the home of King Narai the Great, and is also the location for the King Narai Fair. The palace complex, now in ruins, has a unique architectural aspect of having a mix of French and Khmer influences. It also contains the King Narai National Museum, where you can learn the history of past monarchs and see their belongings on display.
4. Trace History with Lopburi Heritage Walk
Lopburi is a historical trove. Explore the stories of the past through the Heritage Walk that starts at Phra Narai Rachaniwet in the town centre, and winds it’s way through many sites. The whole trip would consume a day, and you will have stops for snacks. This is also a great way to observe the local life and culture up close.
5. Visit Ban Wichayen
Ban Wichayen, also called as the Wichayen House, was King Narai the Great’s building for housing ambassadors and envoys during the 17th century. The House is named after Chaophraya Wichayen, a Greek envoy, who was a royal minister to the Thai Government.
6. A Banquet with Monkeys
Lopburi’s human population shares the province with thousands of macaques, and in November every year they throw a sumptuous feast for their simian friends. Tables will be spread with varieties of fruits, vegetables, sodas, and cartons of juice and water. There will be large monkey statues on display, besides food stalls, competitions and street wares for sale. You will be astounded by the visuals of monkeys jumping on to the tables, grabbing the food of their choice and running off with the booty.
7. Enjoy the Sunny Sunflower Fields
If you are visiting Lopburi during the months between November and February, then do not miss visiting the sunflower fields. A vast blanket of striking yellow spreads over the land lending it a surreal feel. Most tuk tuk drivers would know which fields would be in full bloom, so either get the local transport or ride in your own vehicle.
8. Witness the Bats of Wat Khao Wongkhot
Nestled within the mountains of Lopburi is Wat Khao Wongkhot, a cave temple. Hike up during the day to splendid views of the province below and an assortment of religious statues that adorn the temple. Also, be privy to the numerous bats that live in the chambers. Stay till dusk and you will see the bats emerge, numbering in hundreds. The mass exodus of black figurines is an impressive sight in the fading light.
9. A Trip to Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, or more commonly known as Wat Yai, is a 650 years old temple that holds the Phra Buddha Chinnarat statue. This is the second-most famous statue of the Enlightened One in Thailand. Aside from the statue, the ruins, the temple, and the vendors all around will make your visit worthwhile.
10. Impressive Thai Architecture at Kraison Siharat Hall
Kraison Siharat Hall stands for the traditional Thai architecture that serves as a remainder of the 17th century. The structure was mainly used by astronomers as an observatory to study lunar and solar eclipses. Since the ruins are situated in the outskirts of Lopburi, you wouldn’t find the place crawling with tourists.
11. The Portuguese Connection at Wat San Paolo
This is a Jesuit church that was erected by the Portuguese in 17th century. All that remains of the ruins now is a brick wall, an octagonal, 3-story observatory, and a tower.
12. Hangout at Ang Sub Lek
Get to the outskirts of Lopburi town and spend some time at the Ang Sub Lek reservoir. It is a scenic place with small mountains in the distance and an island in the middle. The place is relatively deserted during the weekdays so you will have plenty of peace and quiet.
13. Visit Wat Sao Thong Thong
Wat Sao Thong Thong is a holy Buddhist place that contains chedis instead of stupas. The structures are believed to be hundreds of years old. There is a quaint amulet market nearby where you can get amulets and charms, if those catch your fancy.
14. The Leaning Chedi of Wat Mani Chonlakan
This is a 19th century structure built on a riverine island. What makes it noteworthy is the three-tier design that has standing Buddha images in 12 recessed corners and niches. The chedi also leas slightly to the left, which gives it an odd look.
15. Spirituality of Phra Kan Shrine
This is a popular shrine that holds the remains of Khmer period. Thais frequent this place of worship, so a thriving business of flowers, incense, and other items for offerings are sold in stalls around the shrine. An interesting thing to lookout for is the collection of colourful statues of animals and peoples inside.