The key reason to visit Lop Buri is to immerse yourself in one of Thailand’s longest spanning historical sites. Ruins and artefacts found in the National Museum cover a remarkable 12 centuries, starting with the Dvaravati period back in the 6th Century, and ending with the fortifications built by King Narai in the 17th century when Lopburi served as second capital to Ayuthaya.
There are few remains of the original Lavo culture that was erased by the Khmer, but many Davaravati pieces of antiquity are preserved in the important Lop Buri National Museum. Although many of the best specimens have been placed in the National Musuem in Bangkok, it’s definitely worth stepping into the local museum if you’ve come all the way to Lopburi.
Most of the attractions that draw tourists to Lop Buri date back to the Narai era and earlier, between the 6th and 11th centuries, when Lopburi was ruled by the Khmers. The most striking example of Khmer influence here is Prang Sam Yot, originally a Hindu shrine that was later converted to Buddhism.
Visitors to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat will recognize similarities in the temple’s design. Other impressive Khmer ruins in the Lop Buri include Prang Khaek in the market place and Wat Phra Si Maha That to the rear of the railway station, which as been well restored by the Fine Arts department.
As you would expect, there are several other remains of temple complexes that make up the bulk of attractions in this Lopburi. Wat Nakhon Kosa, Wat Indra and Racha, Wat San Paolo (originally a Jesuit monastery) and Wat Sao Tong Tong, are mostly dilapidated ruins but of interest to the history-minded.
The San Phra Kan is perhaps more popular, not because of the disappointing Kala Shrine (Hindu god of time and death), but rather the famous crowd of ‘Lop Buri monkeys’. They are actually macaques and have become a nuisance, invading the town market, but the locals respect them as ‘children of Kala’, going so far as to throw a feast for them each November.
Narai Ratchaniwet Palace is the largest complex of tourist offerings in Lopburi. Built over 12 years by King Narai during the middle of the 1600s, this palace is now a museum and extensive collection of artefacts all on display to visitors. The Chanthon Phisan Phisan Pavilion, with its collection of locally excavated Buddhist artefacts, and Dusit Sawan Thanya Maha Prasat Hall, the receiving hall for foreign dignitaries, are the must-see sections of the palace.
Lop Buri can also offer fans of flora and fauna some unusual attractions. Lop Buri Zoo features birds from Southeast Asia and Australia along with an enclosure housing a rag-tag collection of tigers and dogs that is surprisingly trouble free. A little further from the city (around 45kms out), Thailand’s largest sunflower field at Amphoe Phatthana Nikhom makes a colourful sight when the flowers bloom bright yellow in the winter
Getting to Lopburi from Bangkok
This is easy as it’s a straight run heading due north up Highway 1 by car or bus that can be done in less than three hours depending on traffic in the capital.
Bangkok also connects to Lop Buri on the main train line heading north. Again, the journey takes a couple of hours. Tourists staying overnight can enjoy one of the guesthouses beside or close to the Lop Buri River which flows through the city.
Hotels and guesthouses in Lop Buri
The city is actually split into Old Lop Buri (the tourist area) and New Lop Buri (the commercial centre), you would be better placed in the old part, but there are some good options in the new town as well.
Lopburi Inn Resort: this modern resort is the town’s premier hotel with comfortable facilities, a nice pool area and motel-like rooms. Surprisingly good value…more details and booking
Pasak Hillside Resort: is surrounded by splendid mountains and beautiful lakes with a variety of rooms such as Lakeside Bungalow, Lakeside Villa, and Deluxe room. Each room offers a wide range of full facilities such as television, air condition, hot shower and mini bar…more details and booking