Lop Buri, formerly known as "Lawo”, was one of the important ancient towns of the Khmers from the10th-13th century. Many Khmer ruins are found in and around this town. During the Ayutthaya period, King Narai the Great established Lop Buri as the second capital with the help of French architects. Most of the architecture of that time reflects the mixture of Thai and Western styles.
Lop Buri is 153 kms. north of Bangkok. It covers an area of 6,199 square kilometers and is administratively divided into 11 districts (Amphoes): Muang Lop Buri, Ban Mi, Chai Badan, Khok Charoen, Khok Samrong, Phatthana Nikhom, Tha Luang, Tha Wung, Sa Bot, Lam Sonthi, and Nong Muang.
The former Hindu shrine of Prang Sam Yot (Three Peak Towers) is Lop Buri's most famous landmark. The 3 towers were originally based on Khmer art and architecture, but local artisans gave it the Lop Buri touch by adding Buddha images and modifying with several other variations. The shrine was converted to a Buddhist temple during King Narai's reign.
The Statue of King Narai the Great stands near the provincial capital's entrance to commemorate the great Ayutthayan monarch who helped Lop Buri prosper. King Narai is remembered for fostering close diplomatic ties with European powers and introducing western technology, such as terra cotta pipes to supply drinking water.
The square-shaped Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat complex encloses ruins from two distinct eras. At the center is the finely detailed 12th-century stucco Khmer prang. Scattered around the complex are chedis built in the Ayutthaya and Sukhothai-styles and a wiharn (hall) commissioned by King Narai.
The Vichayen House was built as a residence for the first French ambassador to Thailand during the reign of Louis XIV. Later it was inhabited by the King's favorite minister, the Greek Constantine Phaulkon, who encouraged King Narai to forge close ties with the Europeans, predominantly with the French. Scattered around the compound are other ruined buildings that served as residences for other mission members, water tanks, fountains, and a Roman Catholic chapel.
King Narai's Ratchaniwet Palace was constructed during mid-1600s and was abandoned after his death. The palace combined both Thai and western-style architecture, indicating the European's influence during that period. Later on, King Mongkut, Rama IV restored parts of the palace, including the majestic Chanthara Phisan Pavilion , originally the royal residence of King Narai built purely in Thai-style.
The three-storied, colonial-styled Phiman Mongkut Pavilion within King Narai's Palace served as King Mongkut's (Rama IV) residence during the palace renovations. Connected to it are three other two-storied pavilions. Nowadays, the buildings have been converted into the Narai National Museum which houses a superb collection of Lop Buri Buddha images and earlier kingdom's arts.
The Kraison Siharat Hall is located on an island in the dried up Tale (lake) Chupson that formerly supplied drinking water to the city of Lop Buri. King Narai built the place to be used by him and Louis XIV's envoys to witness a lunar eclipse on December 11, 1685.
Wat San Paolo originally served as a Jesuit church during King Narai's reign.
Situated at the foot of Sanam Daeng (Red Field) Mountain is Wat Khao Wongkot that has a large bat cave. The featured attraction occurs daily around 6 p.m. when a massive amount of bats leave the cave, taking 2 hours to fully empty out the cave. Bat droppings can be purchased at the temple.
The nation's largest Sunflower Field is located some 45 km from town. Tourists swarm the fields during the months of November to January when the sunflowers are in full bloom.
Narai Ratchaniwet Palace This palace in the town centre was built by King Narai and took 12 years to be completed (1665-1677). Now the whole compound has been turned into the Lop Buri National Museum. and houses the following historical buildings.
Statue of King Narai the Great This statue is situated at the entrance of the town. It was erected to honour King Narai the Great who made Lop Buri an important and prosperous town. He commanded many magnificent structures built in this town including the Phra Narai Ratchaniwet Palace, several fortifications and a Buddhist sanctuary. He was the first one to apply modern technology in the observatory and in laying terra-cotta pipes to supply water to the palace.
As for his foreign policy, King Narai was the first Thai monarch who established diplomatic relations with France and attributed friendly policy towards other foreigners, especially the Europeans.
Phra Prang Sam Yot This former Hindu shrine is some 200 metres from the railway station and is Lop Buri's best known landmark. The laterite and sandstone structure was constructed in the Lop Buri style and decorated with stucco. The three adjoining towers signify the Hindu Trinity of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. During the reign of King Narai, the shrine was converted to a Buddhist temple.
San Phra Kan This former Brahman shrine is adjacent to Phra Prang Sam Yot. It consists of an ancient Khmer ruin and a shrine constructed in 1951 for a worshipped four-armed deity figure with a Buddha image's head. The monkeys living in the compound sometimes cause mischief when approached.
Prang Khaek This charming and petite Khmer ruin is in the market place on Vichayen Road. The structure was built in the 15th century as a Hindu shrine with three adjoining towers, but it is much smaller than Phra Prang Sam Yot. It is considered to be the oldest monument of Lop Buri.
Wat Phra Si Maha That This temple is located behind the railway station near Phra Kan Shrine. The Lop Buri style prang or tower fronting the temple was built around 1157 when the town was ruled by the Khmer. The U-Thong style Buddha images on the prang were added at a later date. The temple was probably restored during the reign of King Narai the Great.
Vichayen House was a residence for Chevalier de Chaumont, the first French ambassador to Thailand during the reign of Louis XVI. Later, the place was occupied by Chao Phraya Vichayen (a Greek adventurer Constantine Phaulkon) until he was killed by the revolutionaries in 1688. Many ruined buildings dot the compound, one served as a Roman Catholic chapel. Others were residences for the ambassador and mission members. Ruined brick water tanks and fountains are visible.
Water Reservoir stored water which came through terra cotta pipes from Tha-le Chupson, a large freshwater lake which supplied drinking water to the inhabitants of Lop Buri.
Phra Khlang Supharat commonly known as the twelve treasure houses, stored the royal treasures as well as royal goods for selling to foreign merchants.
Elephant and Horse Stables located close to the wall separating the outer section of the palace from the middle section.
Chanthon Phisan Pavilion was built as a royal residence of King Narai in 1665. It was subsequently used as an audience hall after King Narai had moved his residence to Suttha Sawan Pavilion. The building was constructed in pure Thai style, thus indicating that no French architects were involved in its construction. The building was restored by King Rama IV in 1863 and is now used as a hall for displaying archaeological and art objects. Many Lop Buri style stone Buddha images are kept in the building.
Phiman Mongkut Pavilion is a three-storied brick building used as a residence of King Rama IV when he visited Lop Buri during the renovation of the palace. Connected with the pavilion are the other three buildings namely Suttha Winitchai Pavilion, Chai Sattrakon Pavilion and Akson Sattrakhom. All of these buildings are now used as the offices of the Lop Buri National Museum.
Dusit Sawan Thanya Maha Prasat Hall King Narai had this building constructed to be used as an audience hall for high-ranking foreign visitors and ambassadors. He probably received Chevalier de Chaumont, King Louis XIV's representative, in this hall. The building was constructed in a mixed Thai and Western architectural style.
Suttha Sawan Pavilion This residence is where King Narai died on 11 July, 1688, while the palace was under the control of royal revolutionaries. Ruins of the pavilion, artificial hills and fountains remain. It has been recorded that the pavilion stood amidst a beautiful garden in which there were many fountains were displayed.
Phra Chao Hao Building located in the south of the outer section of the palace was built, probably as a private audience hall, in Thai style. Only wall sections remain, but the decorative designs at the doors and windows are still visible.
Banquet Hall built to entertain important foreign visitors, is surrounded on three sides by ponds. A brick platform fronting the hall may have been a stage or theatre where guests were entertained, perhaps by shadow plays or dances, after dinner.
Wat San Paulo This is situated on Ruam Decho Road, some 1.5 kms. east of the town. It was originally a church of the Jesuits founded during the reign of King Narai, and also the first observatory in Asia. Now only a brick wall of a high tower remains behind the church site. The name "San Paulo" called by Thais probably derive from "Saint Paul" or "Saint Paulo".
Wat Sao Thong Thong is to the north of the Royal Palace. The vihara and the main Buddha image were created in the Ayutthaya period. Later, King Narai restored this monastery and changed the windows of the vihara into a western style.
Wat Mani Chonlakhan The monastery was originally called Wat Ko Kaeo because it was located on a small island. Interesting to see are, Chedi Luang Pho Saeng, the ubosot, the vihara and the large Buddha Image along the river.
Lop Buri Zoo This 25-acre enclave is near Sa Kaeo circle. The zoo includes favourite Asian and Australian birds and mammals. The most unusual spectacle is that of three tigers and four dogs living in unique harmony and the love story of a couple of urang-utans.
Wat Khao Wongkot Located at the foot of Sanam Daeng Mountain, this temple is noted for a large bat cave where bats fly out around 6.00 p.m. in great numbers to seek food. The temple derives income from bats' droppings.
Kraison Siharat Hall or Phra Thinang Yen Located on an island in a dried up lake, Thale Chupson, formerly supplied drinking water to Lop Buri residents. This hall was built and used as a residence of King Narai, Jesuits and Louis XIV's envoys to witness a lunar eclipse on 11 December, 1685.
Wat Yang Na Rangsi This temple is located by the Lop Buri River, 9 kms. south of the town centre on the Lop Buri-Bang Pahan route. The four Buddha images made of sandstone and quartz in the temple suggest that this forest temple could have been built during the Lawo period. The old wooden teaching hall was built in 1927 in a typical style of the rural central region. After the restoration in 1988, it was turned into a local boat museum. A collection of local boats and oars in various types are displayed, particularly a rare one-seat barge, which plied local waterways in the old days.
Nam Tok Wang Kan Luang This 10-tiered waterfall is about 12 kms. from the Lam Narai Market, Amphoe Chai Badan via Route No. 2089. Thanks to a nearby underground water source, a flow of water is visible all year round.
Wat Lai This Ayutthaya period temple is located on the bank of the Bang Kham River, Amphoe Tha Wung, some 24 kms. from the town. It is noted for a chapel decorated with stucco in various motifs, depicting Lord Buddha's previous life story and the first sermon. The exquisite craftmanship makes this a masterpiece of Thai sculpture.
Sunflower Fields Some 45 kms. from the town, Thailand's largest sunflower plantation in Amphoe Phatthana Nikhom attracts all passers-by when the flowers are in full bloom from November to January.
Activities : Festival
King Narai Reign Fair This fair commemorates the reign of King Narai the Great, the Ayutthayan monarch best known for his promotion of diplomatic relations with European powers during the mid-1600s. The fair is centred at King Narai's Palace and features processions, a light and sound presentation, folk entertainment and sales of local products.
Hotels and accommodation:
- Ang Sup Lek Resort: 199 Mu 6, Opposite Phra Narai Scout Camp Amphoe Muang [0 3665 2576-7] : 250-1,500 baht
- Asia Hotel : 1/7-8 Surasak Road Amphoe Muang [0 3641 1892, 0 3641 1555] : 140-350 baht
- Holiday Hotel : 3 Soi Si Suriyothai 2, Narai Maharat Road Amphoe Muang [0 3641 1343] : 350-550 baht
- Lop Buri City Hotel : 1/1-1/5 Na Phra Kan Road Amphoe Muang [0 3641 1245, 0 3661 7980 Fax: 0 3641 1826] : 250 baht
- Lop Buri Inn : 28/9 Narai Maharat Road Amphoe Muang [0 3641 2475, 0 3641 2609 Bangkok Tel: 0 2255 3512] : 134 rooms
- Lop Buri Inn Resort : 144 Phahonyothin Road, Tambon Tha Sala Amphoe Muang [0 3641 1795, 0 3661 4790-2 Fax: 0 3641 2010 Bangkok Tel: 0 2255 3512] : 800-1,200 baht
- Lop Buri Inn Residence :33 Klong Chon Prathan Road, Tambon Thale Chup Son Amphoe Muang [0 3661 3410-12 Bangkok Tel: 0 2255 3512] : 600-1,800 baht
- Mandarin : Mu 4 Phahonyothin, Tambon Tha Sala Amphoe Muang [0 3641 2949] : 70-200 baht
- Muang Thong :Prang Sam Yot Road Amphoe Muang [0 3641 1036] : 120-200 baht
- Nett Hotel :Ratchadamnoen Road, Tambon Tha Hin Amphoe Muang [0 3641 1738] : 160-350 baht
- Piman Hotel : 51/40 Horathibodi Road Amphoe Muang [0 3641 2507] : 300-450 baht
- Rama Plaza Hotel : 4 Ban Pom Road, Tambon Tha Hin Amphoe Muang [0 3641 1663, 0 3641 1484] : 180-700 baht
- Sri Indra : Na Phra Lan Road Amphoe Muang [0 3641 1261, 0 3641 3258] : 250-300 baht
- Suphonphong : Na Phra Kan Road Amphoe Muang [0 3641 2178] :80-100 baht
- Taipei Hotel : 24/6-7 Surasak Road, Tambon Tha Hin [0 3641 1524, 0 3641 1661] : 110-220 baht
- Thep Thani :Thep Thani Building, Thep Satri Rajabhat Institute, Narai Maharat Road Amphoe Muang [0 3641 1982, 0 3641 1029] : 400 baht
- Sawaengsuk Bungalow : 11 Mu 4 Phahonyothin Road Amphoe Khok Samrong [0 3644 1236] : 300-400 baht
- Sing Chai : 131-141 Suranarai Road Amphoe Khok Samrong [0 3644 1246] : 150-240 baht
- Bunyarit : 19-20 Suranarai Road Amphoe Chai Badan [0 3646 1335] : 100 baht
- Chaloem Watthana : 506-512 Suranarai Road Amphoe Chai Badan [0 3646 1417] : 80-140 baht
- Chan Wet Guest House : Mu 1 Khotchaseni Road, Tambon Chai Narai Amphoe Chai Badan : 150-200 baht
- Cho Sichang Bungalow : 96 Mu 4 Khotchaseni Road Amphoe Chai Badan [0 3646 1482] : 200-400 baht
- Pa Sak Hillside Forest Resort : Phahonyothin Road Amphoe Chai Badan [Bangkok Tel: 0 2216 4930, 0 2216 4934] : 600-1,200 baht
- S.T. 30 : 183 Tha Manao Road Amphoe Chai Badan : 150-350 baht
- Asia Inn : Mu 7 Tambon Bang Nga, Lop Buri-Sing Buri Road Amphoe Tha Wung
- Phana Siri Resort : 117 Mu 8 Tambon Khok Salung Amphoe Phattana Nikhom [Bangkok Tel: 0 2551 9233] : 1,900-5,000 baht
- Namtok Rai Phonphan : 170 Tambon Tha Luang Amphoe Tha Luang [0 3642 9689]
- Kings : Wichayen Rd., Tel: 0-3641-1946
- Krua Thai : 1/59 Sai Pa Wai, Tel: 0-3641-3690
- Chan Chao : 3 Roi Phra That Rd., Tel: 0-3641-1589
- D.P.M. : 81 Rajdamnoen Rd., Tel: 0-3641-1750
- Bua Luang : 229/129-132 Narai Maharat Rd., Tel: 0-3641-1014
- Blue Bakery :: Na Phra Kan Rd., Tel: 0-3641-1633
- Prang Thong :: Narai Maharat Rd., Tel: 0-3641-1643
- Taipei Restaurant :: Sura Songkhram Rd., Tel: 0-3641-1648
- Maha Sarakhram 3 :: 622/7-10 Narai Maharat Rd., Tel: 0-3641-2995
- Mink Thong (Pho Ngarm) :: Pa Wai, Tel: 0-3641-1104
How to get there:
* By Car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 passing Saraburi to Lop Buri, a total distance of 153 kilometres. From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 and Highway No. 32 to Ayutthaya and travel further along Highway No. 347 to Lop Buri via Amphoe Tha Ruea.
* By Bus
Both air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses leave Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Lop Buri many times a day. Call 0 2936 2852-66 for more information.