Lopburi (ลพบุรี), also Lop Buri or Lob Buri is a historic city 3 hours north of Bangkok in the Chao Phraya Basin region of Thailand. Lopburi has a mountain called Khao Chan Daeng.
Lopburi is very laid back, and its convenient location less than 3 hours from Bangkok makes it a good place to escape the stress and pollution of the capital.
Lopburi is one of the oldest cities in Thailand, a former capital and the second capital after Ayutthaya was established in 1350. It was abandoned after King Narai passed away in 1688, but parts were restored in 1856 by King Mongkut (King Rama IV) and in 1864 it was made the summer capital.
Lopburi has been an important part of the Khmer Empire, later a part of Ayutthaya kingdom, and Ayutthaya's second capital under the reign of King Narai the Great, who used to spend eight months of the year in Lopburi. Later on, King Mongkut of the Bangkokian Chakri Dynasty resided here. Thus the remains of almost all periods of Thai history can be found here.
There are two downtown areas in Lopburi: New Town and Old Town. Most of the important sites, plus the train station, are in the Old Town; buses arrive and depart from the New Town.
Lopburi is famous for the hundreds of crab-eating macaques that overrun the Old Town, especially in the area around Phra Prang Sam Yot and Phra Kaan Shrine, and there's even a monkey temple/amusement park where you can buy snacks to feed to them.
Keep an eye out for monkeys hanging from trees and wires and sitting on roofs and ledges, and be aware that they have some unpleasant bad habits including pooping on unsuspecting pedestrians from their overhead perches, jumping on people to snatch food, and stealing bags that they suspect may contain something edible.
At night nothing much is going on in the Old Town, thus the street dogs consider everybody running around after midnight very suspicious. While most of them will just look at you, some might bark, run behind you, and jump at you. While common at night, it is very rare during the day.
From Ayutthaya, local buses run every 20 mins, take around 2 hours, and cost 35 baht.
From Bangkok, air-conditioned buses leave every 20 mins, take either 2.5 hours and cost 117 baht, or take 3 hours and cost 96 baht. Take the air-conditioned bus from the Bangkok Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) which departs everyday from 05:00–20:30 every half hour. It costs 80 baht a person.
NOTE: Currently the bus is not running, but a van service from Mo Chit is available.
From Kanchanaburi it's necessary to take a local bus to Suphanburi taking 2 hours and costing 50 baht, then another from there to Lopburi taking 3 hours and costing 52 baht.
From Nakhon Sawan or Phitsanulok. From Sukhothai take a bus to Phitsanulok and then to Nakhon Sawan.
From Bangkok, air-conditioned vans leave from Victory Monument, take about 2 hours and cost 110 baht. There are multiple van services in the area, if the timing for one service does not work try another.
Air-conditioned vans also leave from the main Mo Chit (northern) bus station for the same price. The last minivan normally departs around 18:00.
Trains from/to Bangkok's main Hualamphong station take about 3 hours. Take the Northern Line from Hua Lamphong Railway Station everyday, many rounds per day.
Trains from/to Ayutthaya take about one hour and cost 43 baht for third class (Sept 2012}.
It is a good idea to book first, the online Thai Rail booking service says 60 days in advance, truth is for these shorter journeys its about 30 days. [http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm more info on thai rail travel see here]
- From Bangkok, take Hwy 1 (Phahonyothin Rd) passing Phra Phutthabat District, Saraburi, onto Lopburi. The total distance is 153 km.
- From Bangkok, take Hwy 32 which separates from Hwy 1, passing Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. There are three routes as follows:
1. Enter Bang Pahan District, passing Nakhon Luang District into Hwy 3196. Then, pass Ban Phraek District into Lopburi.
2. Enter at the Ang Thong Interchange to Tha Ruea District and turn left into Hwy 3196, passing Ban Phraek District into Lopburi.
3. Pass Ang Thong, Sing Buri, and take Hwy 311 (Sing Buri–Lopburi), passing Tha Wung District into Lopburi.
The blue local bus (8 baht) circles constantly between the bus station about 2km from the town centre, passing Phra Kahn Shrine, going south on Thanon Sorasak, and ending up in front of the TAT office on Phraya Kamuad Rd.
- Ban Vichayen, Narai Maharat Road. The remains of Constantine Phaulkon's residence, built in the reign of King Narai the Great. Only the outer walls of the three main buildings remain, in a small grassy area. Daily 08:30-16:00. 30 baht.
- Phra Kahn Shrine, Narai Maharat Road. The site of a small shrine, the remains of a Khmer prang, a few stalls and lots of monkeys. The stalls sell offerings to be dedicated at the shrine, and food and drink. The monkeys eat the food, drink, offerings and anything else going. Good for a few photos. There are signs warning of purse-grabbing by the monkeys, but they appear docile if not provoked. 50 Baht.
- Phra Narai Ratchanivet or King Narai's Palace, entrance on Thanon Sorasak on east wall. Built in 1677 by French, Italian and Portuguese engineers, the palace was used by King Narai to host receptions for foreign envoys. Restored in 1856 by King Mongkut, it was converted ino a museum in 1924. The palace grounds consists of the remains of various buildings in an enclosed park, with the central palace serving as the Somdet Phra Narai Museum, which houses prehistoric exhibits, along with Buddha images of Dvaravati, Lopburi and Khmer styles; and King Mongkut's bedroom in its entirety. Open Wed-Sun 8:30-16:00, closed Mon-Tue and national holidays. Entrance fee - foreigners 150 baht, Thais 30 baht.
- Phra Prang Sam Yot is a Khmer-style temple known for its three linked towers. Entrance fee - foreigners 50 baht, Thais 10 baht.
- Wat Phra Phutthabat, 17km south-east of Lopburi. Take any Saraburi bus (#104) which leave the main bus station every 20 mins, take 30 mins to get to the side road 1km from the wat, and cost 21 baht.
- Built in the 13th Century, Wat Phra Sri Rattanamahathat is one of the town's most important monasteries; visitors can view a bas relief illustrating the Buddha's life on the central prang. No monkeys. Entrance fee - foreigners 50 baht, Thais 10 baht.
- A viharn belonging to a working wat, Wat Sao Thong Thong, on Rue De France, also has a small amulet market in the grounds. Previously used as a Christian chapel and a Muslim mosque, it has now been restored and features a large Buddha figure, with several smaller Lopuri-era Buddhas in wall niches. No charge.
- Rock climbing - at Cheen Lair (จีนแล) Mountain, near Suwannahong Temple (Cheen Lair 2), Baan Nong Kham
If you are going to be in Lopburi long-term, you will need the services of the two department stores. There is a Big C mall in town, with a KFC, along with a Tesco Lotus in the Monkey Mall further down. The latter has a very large outdoor market in the evenings.
Evenings, a lot of street food stalls are set up on a road in front of railway station. The street vendors in the Old Town are very nice and have all kinds of tasty things. Don't be afraid to stop and check them out.
- Bua Luang - in the New Town, about 6 km from Old City. 46/1 Moo 3, Tasala A. Muang. Tel +66 36-614-227/8/9/30. Cash only.
- Louis Steakhouse - on Phahon Yothin east of the large traffic circle 1/2 km or so from Big C under the pedestrian overpass. A great restaurant owned by a fellow from Belgium. A great change if you are looking for something a little different from normal Thai food.
- New World Steak House - Great if you like good English cuisine. Run by Barry and Noi, an Englishman and his Thai wife. This spot is just west of Sakal (the huge center of town with the fountains) just to your left before you cross a bridge, at the lights (look for a rather large hotel next to it). The prices are higher than typical Thai food, but the steaks are huge, the Shepherd's pie is awesome, and you can even get a taco or two, if he has shells on hand.
- School Milk, Next door to Noom Guesthouse. Located next door to Noom Guesthouse. Large variety of Thai/Western food, snacks, shakes and coffees. Excellent quality and huge portions for really cheap prices. Caters to mostly students and young people, and has really hip coffeehouse vibe/decor.
- White House is located just behind (north of) the tourism office (TAT). Romantic western architecture with a beautiful yard and second floor, offers nice food. Crab meat, fried rice, and red curry is very good. The owner, Mr Piak, speaks English and will tell you everything you need to know, even if you don't dine there.
You might find the nightlife in Lopburi fairly quiet for a town of its size but there are a selection of places to catch a drink in the evening. Old Town has a few curbside bars, which are excellent for those who are still new to Thailand, as there are usually some foreigners about. There is also a small club (look for the large "Ben More" sign) next to a local park near the train station in the Old Town, but it is a little pricier than average.
The centre of town has a variety of places, from hole-in-the-wall local dives, to "The Bank", a disco that is frequented by Lopburi's younger crowd (not recommended unless you know your way around well; foreigners are rare in the Bank). Uptown has few drinking establishments on the main road, but there are a variety of karaoke bars and such down the back roads. Some of these out-of-the-way places are decent for a drink and some offer female company (also not recommended for the newcomers).
- Butterfly Bar, Phayakamjad Rd ((across street from Narai Palace)). 12:00. Nice little streetside bar with beer, whiskey and food. Right across the street from the Narai Palace (east gate). Gung and Steve are great hosts and the bar stays open until there is no one remaining. Side note, for farangs, there are usually a few "westerners" hanging around. 50 baht.
Hotels in the Old Town offer generally similar medium scale standards for low 140-500 baht range prices. The monkeys run around freely but usually stay in just one small area. Depending on your preference you can choose a place with lots of monkeys running (and hanging) around, or opt for somewhere with low or no monkey presence.
Places with lots of monkeys:
- Lopburi City Hotel - probably the best of the hotels within the monkey area, and enclosed in a big "cage" that keeps the monkeys out, so you can open the windows. All rooms are air-con. Prices from 300 baht.
- Muang Tong Hotel - this is the least likable hotel in the monkey area. It's not enclosed in a "cage", so opening the windows isn't a good idea. However, it does have the best view of the monkey area and the Phra Prang Sam Yot Temple. Rooms have Thai-style bathrooms with squat toilets.
- Sri Indra Hotel - enclosed in a big "cage" that keeps the monkeys out, so you can open the windows. The rooms are neat and clean, but don't expect more. Prices from 200 baht.
Places with few monkeys:
- Lopburi Asia Hotel - very close to the King Narai Palace. Rooms are low to medium standard. Prices from 200 baht.
- Nett Hotel - good location, with a small food market in front, and no monkeys running around. Rooms range from medium standard to very likable medium standard (after recent tiling). Prices from 180 baht.
- Noom Guest House, 15-17 Phayakamjad Rd, Thahin Maung email@example.com - has fan rooms, also offers motorcycle rental and rock climbing, and is extremely close to an Internet café. Serves English breakfast, 08:00-11:30.
- Suphon Phong Hotel - has only two good points: its location (very close to the train station and to Wat Phra Sri Ratanamahatat) and the price, from 140 baht.
- Lopburi Inn, 28/9 Narai Maharat Road - holds an annual November dinner party each year for the monkeys. The hotel has a shuttle and may be willing to pick you up from the train station.
- Lopburi Inn Resort - The only hotel in town with a swimming pool.
Across the river from the Old Town