In a nutshell
Capital of a small province in Central Thailand, Lopburi is located 150 km North of Bangkok – just a 2-hour easy ride.
Why go to Lopburi
Once part of the Khmer empire and later of the Ayutthaya kingdom, Lopburi is an important historical town and archaeological site. Temples and ruins built by Khmers in the 13th still exist and can be visited along with palaces and other historical monuments dating back to the 17th century when King Nara made Lopburi the second capital of Ayutthaya kingdom.
However, many tourists would stop here neither for Lopburi’s temples nor ruins, but to take a quick look of the real tourist draw of today’s Lopburi – monkeys! Let’s go straight to the point: if monkeys freak you out, this is not the place for you.
In the old town they’re literally everywhere, and it’s quite impressive to see how such a large population of monkeys have adapted to live in an urban environment. But monkeys remain monkeys even when they live in town; they’re cheeky, curious and fast, always ready to snatch food or all things which look shining and attractive to them from distracted visitors.
While visiting the old town and taking pictures of the temples, exercise extra care! Monkeys are fun, but they don’t care how much you’ve paid for your camera.
When to go to Lopburi
Attr: AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker (cc by)
Even if Lopburi can be visited all year round (try to avoid September if rain really bothers you), the best time of the year is the dry and cool season from November till March.
Late November and beginning of December are also an ideal time of the year for a quick escape out of town to admire hundreds of thousands of rais of sunflower fields in full bloom, what is indeed an amazing experience even if you are not much of a flowers’ lover.
The last weekend of November the most important and characteristic of Lopburi festivals is held – the Monkeys Buffet Festival. You’ll see hordes of Lopburi invaders being praised, enjoying a royal vegetarian banquet all day long and receiving gifts like mirrors and toys from the locals.
Where to stay in Lopburi
Lopburi can be divided in two parts: the old town, located close to the river, where all the temples and ruins (and the monkeys), and the new town that covers all the eastern side of the city.
If you feel like staying in proximity to all the attractions, head straight to the old town, where there’s a good choice of simple guesthouses and budget solutions. But if you’re looking for something more upmarket you have no choice but move to the new town and (if you do not have your own wheels) rely on public transportation to get to the old one.
Where to eat in Lopburi
Lopburi has a quite vivid night market scene, both in the old town and in the new town. Every night you’ll find any kind of street food and Thai specialties at low prices and if you’re staying only for one evening you probably won’t feel like eating at any restaurant at all. However, there’s plenty of places to eat in old town, from genuine Thai eateries to more tourist oriented restaurants with English menu and western food.
How to get around Lopburi
The old town can be easily covered on foot.
To travel between the old and new parts of Lopburi you can either catch a motorbike taxi (expect to pay THB30 for a short ride) or a public songtheaw (THB8); this pick-up trucks system might be a little bit confusing since their regular routes are kind of a mystery to a Western eye, but basically all of them will travel mainly along Narai Maha Rat road, the main road that connects new and old town.
If you’re planning to explore the area around Lopburi, you can rent a motorbike for THB300 a day.
How to get to and from Lopburi
The easiest way to get to Lopburi from Bangkok (and vice versa) is by train.
The train station in Lopburi is located right in the centre of the old town and no public transportation is needed to get to all the major attractions. Trains leave Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station roughly every two hours and all of them stop in Ayutthaya on their way to Lopburi. Tickets vary from THB28 for a third class to THB200 for an air-conditioned first class with a meal include.
The journey takes 3,5 hours (1,5 from Ayutthaya). On your way back to Bangkok keep in mind that the last train leaves Lopburi around 6pm.
Buses and minivans leave Bangkok’s Morchit Bus Terminal. They are very frequent with a vast choice of departures throughout the day till 6pm. There’s no significant difference in prices between the different operators serving the route (THB100 for the minivan, THB90/THB120 for the bus depending on the class).
As a general rule of thumb buses are more comfortable and spacious while minivan are quicker. Generally minivans will drop you off and pick you up in the old town while the bus station is located in the new town, 2 km east of the train station. A motorbike taxi to the old part of Lopburi will cost you THB40.
To/from Chiang Mai
5 trains depart from Lopburi every day for Chiang Mai, with the journey taking 12 hours approximately. Two of them travel overnight and if you choose one of the sleeper options the trip will fly away. Tickets start from THB100 for a regular seat to THB1000 for berths in more comfortable sleepers. Booking your ticket in advance is recommended especially for the most expensive options.
To/from other destinations
Regular buses and minivans head every day to Ayutthaya (THB40, 1 and a half hour), Korat (THB150, 3 hours), Petchaburi (THB100, 5 hours), Saraburi (THB35, 1 hour) and Suphanburi (THB50, 2 hours). If your next destination is Kanchanaburi, take a bus to Ayutthaya where you’ll find a direct connection.
Is Lopburi a safe place to visit?
Even if Lopburi is a safe city with almost non-existent crime level, every day many tourists see some of their belongings being stolen by the monkeys. So be careful every time you use your phone, camera and any valuables in general. Monkeys can be stubborn and persistent, but are not particularly aggressive. Just be firm and a bit rough if necessary.
Lopburi station guide
Lopburi - Bus
Situated around three hours north of Bangkok, Lopburi is an ancient city with a 1000-year history, especially prominent after the 14th century. Lopburi has well-preserved ruins in the old town, overrun nowadays by macaque monkeys.
Lopburi can be accessed from Bangkok by air-conditioned bus from Mochit Terminal, a two and a half hour trip which you can book online. More expensive minivans from the Victory Monument reduce the time by 30 minutes. It is also possible to travel by train from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok, a three and a half hour ride offering more scenery.
The bus station in Lopburi is about two kilometres from the centre of town, but there is a local bus that regularly does the route, passing Phra Kahn Shrine and ending up at the tourism office on Phraya Kamuad Road. The railway station is to the west of the city centre, and is also accessible by local bus. Tuk-tuks are also available.
Attractions in Lopburi include Phra Prang Sam Yot and Phra Kaan shrine. Also worth visiting is King Narai’s Palace, built in 1677 by European architects, which also hosts a museum housing ancient Siamese artefacts. To stay in an area with lots of monkeys around you can try the Lopburi City, Muang Tong, or the Sri India hotels.
Lopburi - train
Lopburi province is located 150 km North-east of Bangkok. The usual route to get there by land starts at Pahonyothin Road in Bangkok. By Air, Lopburi is served by Khok Kathiam Domestic Airport situated less than 10 km north from the central area.
Lopburi is not well-known for tourist spots compared with other provinces in Thailand. Rather, the small city is best known for its crab-eating monkey population. This specie of crab-eating monkey(macaca) is mostly seen around temples where people and monks feed them.
In November, a Monkey festival is held where locals and tourists give unlimited vegetables and fruits to over 2,000 monkey population of the province. People,though, are regularly warned by the local government that monkeys might steal personal belongings when they interact with humans.
Lopburi has a tropical savanna climate that extends almost the whole year round. The average daily temperature peaks at almost 37 degrees Celsius.
Chai Badan - Bus
The small town of Chai Badan sits in the Pa Sak River valley in Lopburi, around 200kms north of Bangkok. It has its own bus station, though there is no direct bus service from Bangkok. To arrive here by bus, take a bus from Bangkok Mochit to Phetchabun, as it will make a stop in Chai Badan on route.
The city does have its own railway station (Lam Narai) and trains leave Hua Lumphong for Lam Narai railway station. Both the bus station and the railway station are located on Khotchaseni Road near Highway 21. There are a number of places of interest, such as Wang Kan Luang waterfall, Wat Tha Din Dam and Si Thep Historical Park. Places to stay in Chai Badan include Pasak Hillside Resort, plus the Narai Grand and Cho Sricheng hotels.
Khok Samrong - Bus
Khok Samrong district is the transportation hub for the popular province of Lopburi in central Thailand.
From the bus station in Khok Samrong town, mini-buses run to the town of Lopburi, an approximately half-hour trip. Local buses service the same route but take twice as long on account of the slow pace and number of stops along the way. Buses to Bangkok will take three to four hours depending on traffic. However, these can fill up fast during peak seasons, and it’s best to book online ahead of time to ensure you get a seat.
The town of Khok Samrong offers many temples, day markets, and even an interesting evening market that takes place each Thursday near the bus station. Wat Khao Wong Phra Chan is a beautiful temple located five kilometres from town on the highest mountain in the province. Motorbike taxis that wait on the main road will take visitors to the temple. Lopburi offers the best selection of places to stay and also boasts beautiful sunflower fields; some of the best can be found on the outskirts of town, however you would need to hire private transportation to reach them.