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While considered little more than a rural backwater by many, Buriram province offers a rich historical legacy, some worthwhile scenery and a laid back Isaan (northeastern Thai) atmosphere. With a predominantly Sino-Thai-Lao population in the provincial capital and the eastern farmlands, many ethnic Khmer are found to the south, and you’re likely to hear Khmer spoken regularly the further south you go.

The highlights of the province, and indeed what draw most visitors, are the 100+ monuments, temples and archeological sites from both the Khmer and Dvaravati periods. Many of these can be easily visited from either the provincial capital of Buriram or the small town of Nang Rong.

Some of the ruins are little more than a couple of rocks in a field, but the atmospheric Phanom Rung (easily Thailand's most stunning Khmer monument) and haunting Muang Tam are not to be missed. On a certain morning each year in April, the rising sun is framed by 15 of Phanom Rung’s ancient stone gateways, and the festival accompanying this awe-inspiring event is worth fitting into your itinerary if in the area at this time of year.

Although not as easily accessed as the popular ruins, the Dandrek mountains in the province’s southern reaches, which rise to form the border with Cambodia, reward those willing to make the effort to get there with some lovely natural scenery and cooler altitudes.

The provincial capital, Buriram, is a decent enough spot to spend a day enjoying spicy local food and a relaxed vibe. Relaxed, that is, until the local football club -- Buriram United -- hits the field. More than any other Thai city, Buriram is football mad. Throughout town you’ll see posters, pennants, flags, badges, wall clocks and T-shirts along with some very enthusiastic fans supporting the local club, which consistently contends for the Thai Premier League championships each December despite the city’s relatively small size. The season lasts year-round, and with Buriram perpetually leading the league in attendance (they average more than 15,000 spectators per game), there’s no better place in Thailand to catch a match than this.

Other than football, there’s not a whole lot happening in Buriram, but the accommodation scene has improved in recent years, and lounging in some of the leafy parks near an ancient moat that once protected the old part of the city isn’t a bad way to kill a couple of hours. If overnighting, don’t miss the city’s small but eclectic night bazaar. If the bus station is all you care to see of Buriram, hop on a local bus bound for the nearby town of Nang Rong -- an ideal launching spot for an early-morning foray to Phanom Rung.

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Text and/or map last updated on 30th October, 2013.

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