I’ll admit it, I really wanted to see monkeys…and I really love temples! So, the Lopburi Monkey temple in Thailand sounded too good to miss. But, I never had my rabies jab – this was a slight misjudgement on my part, and I soon realised this after googling ‘Monkey temple Lopburi’ and landing on numerous blogs that explained monkey bites and several close encounters. My feelings were fluctuating between excitement and scarediness…
But I couldn’t leave Thailand without visiting those little buggers!
In today’s blog I share my knowledge on visiting the Lopburi Monkey temple in Thailand as a tourist – how to get there, how to dress and how to avoid getting bitten!
Introduction to the Lopburi Monkey Temple
Lopburi is located about 150 kilometres North of Bangkok. It’s known for its historical significance, ancient ruins, and particularly for the presence of the Khmer-era temples and monuments. One of the most notable temples in Lopburi is the Phra Prang Sam Yot, which is also sometimes referred to as the “Lopburi Monkey Temple.”
Phra Prang Sam Yot is an impressive Khmer-style temple that dates back to the 13th century. It features three prangs (towers) intricately decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures. The temple is made from laterite and sandstone, showcasing the architectural influences of the Khmer Empire that once ruled the region. Visiting the Lopburi temple was an amazing experience, and one of my most memorable from my month long trip to Thailand.
What to wear to visit the Lopburi Monkey temple
As it is a temple, avoid showing too much flesh – long cotton pants and a linen top that covers cleavage and shoulders would be perfect. For men, walking trousers and a T-shirt are ideal. Wear comfortable walking boots as there is plenty to explore in Lopburi as well as the monkey temple. A pashmina scarf may be good to shelter you from the heat and also keep you warm when it starts to go cooler (or on the air conditioned train).
Other good things to wear or take include a sun hat (the sun is often intense in Thailand), a water bottle (hide it when you get to the monkeys!) and a selfie stick (to ward off the monkeys when they get too close!)
When to Visit Phra Prang Sam Yot
The best time of year to visit the Monkey temple in Thailand is from November to February, when the weather is mild-hot and there are no monsoon rains.
Lopburi is also famous for its annual Monkey Buffet Festival, where a large feast of fruits, vegetables, and other food items is laid out for the monkeys. The festival has gained international attention and showcases the harmonious relationship between the city’s human inhabitants and the monkey population. If you are brave enough, you may want to visit at this time! The Monkey banquet is usually the last Sunday of November. If you’re scared of the monkeys (like I was!) then you probably want to avoid visiting Lopburi at this time!
How to get to the Lopburi Monkey temple in Thailand
It was easy to get to the Lopburi monkey temple as a solo traveller – I took the train from Bangkok and did it as a daytrip. The train from Bangkok to Lopburi departs from Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal (Bangkok Central station) and gets you to Lopburi in around an hour and a half (usually 1hr 38min if you get the Express). It’s important that you check the length of the journey and make sure that your train is an Express – some of the non-Express trains stop at every station along the way and can take around 3-4 hours for the same journey!
Check the class of your ticket as well – there is no need for first class, I found second class to be perfectly comfortable. I would avoid third class if possible though, as some have benches which can be quite uncomfortable.
Lopburi itself is very walkable and the monkey temple is very close to the station – you don’t even need a Tuk-Tuk, go on foot. When you come out of Lopburi train station, you will see the ruins of Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahatat. With Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahatat directly in front of you (and the station behind you) make a right and you will come straight to the monkey temple in around 100 metres.
Another great way to do it (and this is what I did) is to explore the other ruins of Lopburi first going in a loop around the city and then end up with the Monkey Temple as the last place you visit before boarding the train back to Bangkok. Save the best till last!
Heading towards Phra Prang Sam Yot
I took a day in Lopburi and thought I’d save the best till last, so I went around the rest of Lopburi, leaving the monkey temple as my final stop for this quaint little ancient town. I knew that I had to have food and drink before I visited the temple, and certainly avoid having ANY food in my pockets or backpack! So I downed a Fanta and scoffed ‘pork noodle’, which I was told I would eat by a local…
‘YOU TAKE PORK NOODLE!’
’40 Baht I give you good price!’
My lunch cost me just over £1. I looked out of the window and saw three little monkeys walking towards the restaurant. Cute! I thought. They came closer. They’re surrounding me, I thought. I looked at the PORK NOODLE guy. ‘Monkeys are coming!’ I said. ‘Many monkey! They cause big problem here!’ he replied. I took a deep breath ready to venture out.
Just a few metres to the right, the extent of the Lopburi Monkey problem struck me right in the face. Around 20 of them hanging off signs, jumping of shops and even humping in the street! Three of the little guys had ransacked a motorbike. I think that if the keys were in the ignition, they would have driven off without question!
In all honesty, I was scared to walk past. I cautiously extended my selfie stick. I’d read online that monkeys were cautious of sticks as the temple guards used them to keep the monkeys in check. One jumped in my path and looked like he was gonna dive bomb me. I raised the stick slightly in he barred his teeth but backed off. I followed in the footsteps of a local who was passing by.
Meanwhile, over the road, around 100 of them were getting fed bananas by a local. These monkeys were all over her! They swarmed a shop front, fighting each other for any leftover bits – they were quite aggressive!
Well, there was nothing for it – the monkey temple was now directly in front of me. It was a case of holding my breath, holding up the selfie stick and walking slowly forward.
My Visit to the Lopburi Monkey Temple
At the entrance to the Lopburi temple, two big fat bastards sat either side of the gate. I must have looked apprehensive straight away. The guard beckoned me forward to the ticket office. Other tourists were confidently walking straight past, many hand bananas at the ready. Not me, I thought!
I paid just 50 baht for my entrance ticket – oh so worth it for the experience!
I checked that my pockets were empty and tucked in, looked at the guard and announced ‘I’m ready now!’ ‘Nooooooooo!’ he replied, tapping me and gesturing for me to stop. He pointed to a dangly key ring attached to my bag. ‘Monkey liiiiiike!’ he said! He tucked it in for me and said ‘OK!’
He saved me from full blown monkey attack. I saw another girl confidently waltz in with a dangly keyring. Within seconds, she had a young monkey jumping on her trying to get it. This was followed by two more that thought they would join the party. She did the helicopter (spinning round quickly) to try and fling them off. They didn’t disappear too quickly. She started squealing and the guard headed over to intervene. ‘Aaaaaaah, ahhhhh, he’s on my head!’ she screamed! Phew! So mean, but I was just grateful that it wasn’t me!
I love doing Facebook live at temples, but this was funnier and less focused than most of my live videos. The short, wobbly film session consisted of me trying to explain things and then jumping to the left saying ‘oooooh, there’s one coming behind me!’ and ‘ugh there’s another one!’
My tactic was to stay back. Other tourists with food and dangly keyring were prime primate targets, but not me keeping a distance with my selfie stick protection.
When I realised I was probably the safest tourist at the temple, I then started to enjoy it more and take in the site. It was quite surreal to see monkey hanging out by their ancient Buddha. The temple itself is Cambodian style 3 pronged temple much like Angkor Wat. Looking at it from a distance, it looks like it’s covered in moving spiders, but you know it’s actually a swarm of Macaques!
I recommend staying for around an hour at the temple. Go round the back behind the Buddhas and have a look from a distance. You will see monkey mamas with their babies just chillin’ on their ancient shrine.
Many people don’t realise that you can actually go inside, and surprisingly, there are zero monkeys in there. Enter the temple and you are truly safe. The guard will tell you – ‘Go inside, go inside!’ The windows and door are gated to protect the ancient statues inside. The interior of the monkey temple is lovely and cool. You will find three ancient Buddha statues, many of which have received offerings. And you can watch the monkeys hanging out in full protection of the grated windows.
When I was about to exit, I thought I was stuck in there for good – a big fat mama was sitting right at the temple door! Two or three young ‘uns were eager to get inside. I retreated back into the temple and shut the door quicker than you could say Macaque! The guard gestured for me to continue, saying ‘Be careful! Mama monkey!’ Then he instructed me: ‘Walking, walking, walking!’ It took me about three attempts to carefully and confidently walk past!
I’m so proud of myself for not getting bitten! This was an experience and a half, one of my most memorable from Thailand.
Stay Safe at the Lopburi Monkey Temple – Avoid getting bitten by Monkeys!
- Wear sturdy walking boots as some of the terrain in the ancient temples can be uneven.
- Carry absolutely no food or drink when you enter the Lopburi Monkey temple. They will take a bottle of coke out of your bag, take the top off and neck it!
- Don’t have anything in your pockets – no mints, no crisps, no tic-tacs!
- Don’t have anything dangling from your bag. Tuck in all keyrings and hide items attached to your bag.
- DON’T FEED THE MONKEYS! YOU ARE ASKING TO GET BITTEN!
- Keep a distance. Those who get too close to the temple are their prime targets.
- Carry a stick and raise it or point it at them to keep monkeys at arms length. You don’t need to hit them, they already know that sticks hurt because of the guards, so just the presence of a stick is enough to warn them off.
- Go inside – you are safe in there and can enjoy ancient Buddhas.
- Have your rabies jab – I was extremely scared as I hadn’t. Defo getting it next time!
- If you do get scratched or bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies can be deadly and needs instant medical attention.
Other Attractions in Lopburi
Apart from Phra Prang Sam Yot, Lopburi has several other historical and cultural attractions, and so I would recommend that you spend a full day there (you don’t need to spend more than that). Don’t miss the Lopburi National Museum, which houses artefacts and exhibits related to the city’s history, as well as the King Narai’s Palace, a historical site that showcases the architectural style of the Ayutthaya period. There are also many other ruins (in a similar style to the Monkey temple) jotted around the city.
Overall, Lopburi’s temples and historical sites, combined with its unique relationship with the macaque monkeys, make it a fascinating destination for travellers interested in Thailand’s rich history and culture.
After the Lopburi – Where to go Next
If you are looking for more temples, head for an Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok. If you are up for heading North, you can travel to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, preferably via Sukhothai Historical Park, another ancient temple complex (the Second capital of Siam).
Further Reading on Thailand
- Thailand 30 Day Itinerary
- Chiang Mai vs Chiang Rai
- Chiang Mai Tours
- Wat Chai Wattanaram Temple Ayutthaya