The city of Lopburi has made its way into the Thai history books on numerous occasions. The Khmer empire got their hands on it during the tenth century and held power in the region till the mid-thirteenth century, when the Thais clinched it. Many of the ancient ruins in and around Lopburi possess distinctly Khmer and Hindu characteristics, although over time many have been transformed into Buddhist monuments.
Lopburi made the news again in 1664 when King Narai made it the second capital after Ayutthaya. At that time the French were roaming around and this influence can be seen, however slight, in some of the buildings in the provincial capital.
Be warned: monkeys seem to have taken complete possession of some of the ruins, and they will want your bag, sunglasses, cap and lunch before allowing you a roam around. If you have a simian phobia, strike Lopburi off your list. The numbers do seem to have declined slightly in recent years, but enough still prance around to frighten unsuspecting tourists.
The town is split into old and new quarters. The old quarter sprawls out from the train station, while the new quarter lies a few kilometres to the east and is centred around a massive roundabout, near the bus station.
The main sights are all within walking distance of Lopburi train station. The one outlying site is Wat Phra Phutthabat which, while actually in Saraburi province, is usually visited from Lopburi. Few travellers stray further afield in Lopburi. You can actually cover the highlights within just a few hours.
By Stuart McDonald.