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
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.