Lopburi is very laid back, and its convenient location 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. There are remains from almost all periods of Thai history.
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.
As you come here from Bangkok, you usually go via Saraburi and will come past the Tesco Lotus and HomePro, past two Big C's on your right about 2Km apart,to the first roundabout which has mainly Government offices, then you go about 2Km to the second roundabout (the New City) which has many shops and some restaurants (as well as street eats), and then a further 2Km to the Old City. Note that nearly all buses and minibuses go only to the bus station in the New City.
Most of the decent hotels are between the Homepro to the first roundabout, down streets to the side, and there are a couple between the first and second roundabout. One is between the second and third roundabout, and there are others in the Old Town (most are mainly backpacker style in this area)
Lopburi is famous for the hundreds of crab-eating macaques that overrun the Old Town, especially in the area around Phra Prang Sam Yod and Phra Kaan Shrine.
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 defecating on unsuspecting pedestrians from their overhead perches, jumping on people to snatch food and stealing bags that they suspect may contain something edible. Monkeys also have a penchant for stealing eyeglasses, hats, cameras, cigarettes, water bottles and anything they can rip from a bag or pockets. Some guesthouses lend brooms to tourists to take with them to the locations that are overrun with animals. It is best to take turns shooting photos while others look out for swift moving opportunistic monkeys. Take care not to get scratched or bit. Should this happen, a prompt visit to a clinic for shots is advisable. It is best not to feed the monkeys. If you feed one, you will become the center of attention for many others, and you will eventually run out of things to distract them with.
There are two feeding periods a day at a small playground that was built for the monkeys at the intersection of the rail line and the traffic intersection adjacent to Phra Prang Sam Yod. The Na Sanprakan Monkey Playground is at GPS 14.801792 N, 100.614459 E (14°48'06.5"N 100°36'52.1"E). Local volunteers provide an opportunity to get photos of a monkey feeding frenzy at 10:00 and 16:00.
The annual Monkey Festival is held the last Saturday and Sunday of November at the Phra Prang Sam Yot shrine. More than 10,000 people come to see the monkeys eat on Sunday from a massive buffet of fresh fruit and vegetables. It is believed that the monkeys bring good luck. As many as 3,000 crab-eating macaque monkeys live in the area. This festival also falls close to the lunar Loi Krathong Festival. Hotels in Old Town sell out completely. Songtheaws such as Route 6189 and Route 2467 that run from the Sri Suriyothai Circle pass through Old Town. The fare for a songtheaw is 10 Baht.
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. However, whilst common at night it is very rare during the day.
Below are the only buses into the City as at March 2016.
There are no buses from Bangkok or Ayuttaya. You will see Bangkok - Lopburi buses at the bus station, but these are now used for private hire.
From Singburi: A non aircon bus will cost 18 Baht and take 45 minutes.
From Ang Thong There is a non aircon bus from here.
From Phetchabun There are daily aircon buses from there at 05:30, 07:00, 09:00, 11:50, 12:50, 13:50. These take 4 hours, and one of these goes from Lomsak to the north of Petchabun and takes 5 hours.
From Nakhon Sawan There are six daily buses and they take about four hours.
From Bangkok, Minibus 12 air conditioned vans leave from Mo Chit, transit through Saraburi, and take about 3.25 hours and cost 120 baht, depending on the service you use. There are multiple van services in the area, if the timing of one service is not convenient then try another. Most terminate in the bus station in the new city, and some terminate in the Old Town. The last van leaves around 18:00. They also leave from Rangsit, opposite Future Park. They bypass Saraburi and take 2 hours. Cost 90 Baht.
From Rangsit, a minibus leaves regularly and cost 100 Baht. It goes directly to the City.
From Saraburi, a minibus from the bus station will cost 35 Baht. It terminates inside the bus station.
From Singburi, minibus 11 from Platform 16 at the Sing Buri Provincial Transport Station (สถานีขนส่งจังหวัดสิงห์บุรี) will cost B25. It terminates on Srisuriyothai Circle (Srakaew)วงเวียนศรีสุริโยทัย (สระแก้ว) near the Lopburi bus terminal. The first minibus departs Singburi at 04:30. This also will pick up passengers waiting on Route 311 at 14.874566 N , 100.437131 E (14°52'28.4"N 100°26'13.7"E) adjacent to the Tambon Muang Mu - km 84 + 000 AH 1 / AH 2 / Route 32 stop.
From Chiang Mai, with prior arrangement with the driver, Bus 18 from Chiang Mai drops off south of the PTT Gas Station at the Tambon Muang Mu - km 84 + 000 stop at GPS coordinates 14.874469 N, 100.436888 E (14°52'28.1"N 100°26'12.8"E). The stop is a shelter on the side of the highway. This shelter will not be the place to wait for onward travel to Lopburi. This stop is just past the overpass for Route 311 from Singburi. Ticket sales agents in Chiang Mai will be reluctant to sell a ticket with Lopburi as the final destination. A ticket to Bangkok costs the same, and it is best to purchase a Bangkok fare and then tell the bus crew that you will get off at Tambon Muang Mu - km 84 + 000.
There is a shelter that looks like a traditional Thai wooden house on the offramp from AH 1 / AH 2 / Route 32 that splits off adjacent to the Mitsubishi Motors showroom before the Route 311 overpass. This is marked "1364 024", located at 14.874369 N, 100.437351 E (14°52'27.7"N 100°26'14.5"E). This will not be the place to wait for the minibus from Singburi. If you choose to sit here to wait, you may not be able to run fast enough to flag down the minibus as it crosses over on the Route 311 overpass.
The minibus to Lopburi will stop on Route 311 at the end of the overpass next to three plastic benches that have huge white flower designs on them. This will be the middle section of road, of the three roads running parallel at the junction of AH 1 / AH 2 / Route 32. There is no permanent covered shelter for the Route 311 stop at this time. This spot is in between the two permanent bus stops that were mentioned in the two preceding paragraphs.
Of note, if you are waiting at Singburi late at night, the power outlets at the bus station do not work. There are two power outlets outside the 7 Eleven next to cell phone top off machines that you can discretely use to recharge your devices.
From Ang Thong a minibus from the bus station there will cost 50 Baht and goes every 30 minutes. It terminates inside the City bus station.
From Ayuttaya a minibus from the City center will cost 80 Baht. It terminates inside the City bus station.
Trains from/to Bangkok's main Hualamphong station take about 3.5 hours. Take the Northern Line from Hua Lamphong Railway Station everyday, many rounds per day. Fares range from 13 baht in ordinary class (which is fine) to 370 baht in aircon coach with a meal.(March 2014) The expensive train is also a little faster.
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.
There are no tuk tuks at all here, only a few motorcycle taxis. To go to anywhere along the road from roundabout one to New Town then Old Town there are numerous songteows (two bench pickup trucks) in various colours which do the rounds. The red/brown ones are the most common. There are also green ones and white ones with a green stripe. All three go from somewhere outside the Old Town and through there towards the New Town, then to the third roundabout, where the white with green stripe turns left, and the other two continue on towards and past the two Big C's. A ride on one of these will cost you B8 irrespective of distance. If you want to board one, just hold out your arm with your hand towards the ground as they approach. Press the roof buzzer to stop, and pay as you exit the vehicle.
Note that these stop running around 7pm, so if you see one, you may need to negotiate the price to where you want to go.
For more information contact The Fine Arts Department 4th Regional Office (Thai: กรมศิลปากร), Phraya Kamjat Road, Tha Hin, Muang District, Lopburi, 15000. Tel 036 412 510. This is the agency that administers the historic sites and museums. They have an excellent brochure which is given out when purchasing the foreigner 150 Baht combination ticket, which provides details about the ten major historic sites in the city.
The primary attractions in Lop Buri have been listed to connect all of these in the shortest walking tour possible as follows:
Phra Narai Ratchanivet is divided into three areas:
Outer Royal precinct: comprised of important structures such a Tuek Phra Chao Hao building, Sip Song Thong Phra Khlang (The 12 Treasuries), Tuek Liang Khaek Muang (State Visitors Reception Hall), Water Reservoir, and Royal Elephant Stables. Entrance fee - foreigners 150 Baht and Thais 30 Baht.
Middle Royal precinct: comprised of two pavilion built in the reign of King Narai the Great namely, Phra Thinang Chantharaphisan and Phra Thinang Dusitsawan Thanyamahaprasat. In the Rattanakosin period, King King Rama IV had constructed Phra Thinang Phimanmongkut complex and Thim Dap (Swordsman House).
Inner Royal precinct: comprised of Pha Thinang Sutthasawa, which was the private residence of King Narai the Great, and the Phra Prathiap group of eight buildings build by King Rama IV.
Additionally there are the following:
Nearby, in Saraburi:
In New Town, there are a couple of small supermarkets, but if you head towards Saraburi you will find two Big C's, about 2 kilometres apart on the left hand side. These are some 4 KM from the New Town centre. They are both very large, with plenty of restaurants including Western ones, as well as shops selling clothing and many other things. Also banks, phone companies etc. On the second floor is the huge supermarket which sells just about everything imaginable. Use a songteow to get to and from (see Get Around)
Old Town - 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.
New Town - there is an entire street of these in the evening up a circle street to the right just beyond the New Town roundabout towards the Old City. Many different dishes, some written in English, with tables and chairs. Also within the New Town, are street eat stalls in scattered locations both morning and evening with both tables and chairs. If you want alcohol, buy it at a 711 and drink at the stall table.
You might find the nightlife in Lopburi fairly quiet for a town of its size but there are places for 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. 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).
Hotels in the Old Town offer generally similar medium scale standards for low 140-500 baht range prices. Do not expect upmarket facilities in most of these hotels (Oct 2015) 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:
Places with few monkeys:
036 411343, 413601. There is a large pink sign on the left hand side as you approach the second roundabout from Saraburi. The sign is in Thai only. The hotel is about 100 metres along the lane, on the left hand side, and appears to be about a B500 hotel. Be careful, because the footpath coming from the main road is in very poor condition, with several concrete slabs missing from the underground drain. You will need to carefully watch your step or risk a serious injury.
This hotel is quite decent although close to the first roundabout from Saraburi, which means that if you do not have your own transport, you walk 2Km to the bus station. There are no restaurants nearby, so again, 2Km to the bus station area. For B590 walkin price you get a decent room - lift,aircon,hot water, bar fridge, TV etc and buffet breakfast (Thai or American). The staff are very friendly but speak little English.
The hotel is modern and clean, of three storeys. No lift. It is B500 per night and has clean rooms, with hot water, flat screen TV, aircon, and a full size refrigerator. Reception does not speak much English, but are very friendly and helpful. If you want to rent a room for one month, it will cost you about B200 per day, plus water and electricity. (it finishes at about B300 per day). You sign a contract and pay about B6000, plus about B4000 security deposit, from which your water and electricity are deducted. Definitely no ripoffs - they are totally honest. You will need to provide you own towels and shower mat. Basic bed linen is available. Ideal for English language teachers who do not want to stay in an old hotel fan room.
Across the river from the Old Town
At the bus station, there are minibuses to all of the surrounding destinations (also Bangkok) and non aircon buses to both Ang Thong and Singburi. Minibuses to Bangkok also go from the Old City, and these are located close to the railway station, and also close to the roundabout. There are aircon buses to three destinations only from the bus station.
Minibuses as below:
Will cost B110/B120 and take anything from 2.5 to 4 hours depending upon which one you use. They leave from the bus station. They go hourly from 5 am.
These go regularly and cost B100.
Costs B80, and stops in the City centre there.
Costs B50 and stops in the bus station there. They go every 30 minutes from 0700 to 1700.
Costs B60 and stops in the bus station there.
Leaves from the rear right of the bus station.
An aircon bus to here goes from the bus station 0925, 1125, 1355, 1520, 1725. They come from Nakhon Sawan and then head via Saraburi to Korat. Bus is first class, and costs B153. It takes 3.5 hours. These go via Saraburi, so if you want to go to Bangkok other than by train or minibus, then this is your only option.
Aircon buses to here 0925, 1125, 1355, 1520, 1725.
Aircon buses to here 0700, 0900, 1040, 1240, 1400, 1500. The buses have "Lopburi - Lomsak" written on the outside, but only the 1400 bus goes on to Lomsak, north of the City. All of them stop in the distant bus station in Phetchabun, and all but the 1400 bus terminate here.