Photo: A onetime Khmer outpost.

Introduction

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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. Photo taken in or around Lopburi, Thailand by 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 your camera.

Don't let them take you for a ride. Photo taken in or around Lopburi, Thailand by David Luekens.

Don't let them take you for a ride. Photo: David Luekens

A clutch of historical sites makes Lopburi fascinating even if the monkeys freak you out. Most attractions are clustered close together near the train station amid a warren of colourful streets. After getting your fill of history, wander over to the Lopburi River to stroll along lanes lined with old wood houses before watching men dip huge nets into the water to catch ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,100 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Lopburi.
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 Read up on where to eat on Lopburi.
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