Monkeys, temples and more monkeys

Rapscallion monkeys swing over the rooftops and climb on ancient ruins. After dark, they snatch food off dinner tables or scratch at hotel windows. Even at the train station, monkeys run amok. Monkeys, a bit of history and more monkeys: welcome to Lopburi.

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History buffs will enjoy learning about Lopburi’s glory days as a stronghold of the Ayutthaya kingdom from the 14th to 18th centuries, and earlier when it oversaw much of present-day Thailand under the name Lavo (short for Lavapura), a branch of the Khmer empire from the 11th to 13th centuries. Ancient palaces and impressive monuments join an exceptional museum in the riverside old town. But for many, it’s the monkeys that make Lopburi irresistible.

Lopburi's ruins are notable for blending into everyday life in the town. : David Luekens.
Lopburi's ruins are notable for blending into everyday life in the town. Photo: David Luekens

A folktale holds that the mythical King Rama gifted the city to Hanuman, the noble monkey warrior and “son of the wind” who helped Rama rescue his wife Sita in the Ramayana epic. Today the line between “venerable descendants of Hanuman” and “mischievous pests” is a thin one. While generally docile and used to humans, the simians do occasionally bite, especially if a mother feels that her babies are under threat.

The monkeys congregate at Phra Prang Sam Yod and San Phra Kan shrine, where officials feed them at 10:00 and 16:00 daily. They also hang from power cables and scamper over the train tracks that run straight through the old town. Keep food and valuables secure when you’re out and about -- it’s all fun and games until Curious George dashes off with ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,100 words.)

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