Photo: Just the beginning.

Prasat Hin Phimai

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Prasat Hin Phimai, part of Phimai Historical Park, stands as a majestic reminder that the Khmer were in charge long before Thai people arrived in the area. The sanctuary broke with the east-facing orientation that’s typical of Khmer religious sites, instead facing south towards the kings in Angkor who oversaw a powerful and artistically gifted empire.

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Constructed of sandstone and laterite in the 10th and 11th centuries, Prasat Hin Phimai displays Hindu attributes along with a strong emphasis on Mahayana Buddhism, which was unusual at the time. Architects and artists working on the central 28-metre-tall prang, the largest in Thailand, developed and anticipated the style of Angor Wat a century before it was built.

The grand entrance. Photo taken in or around Prasat Hin Phimai , Phimai, Thailand by David Luekens.

The grand entrance. Photo: David Luekens

French and Thai archaeologists oversaw a major restoration in the 1960s, piecing together countless blocks like a giant jigsaw puzzle. As of 2016, Prasat Hin Phimai is on a tentative list for consideration as a UNESCO world heritage site.

It begins with an elevated walkway guarded by lion sculptures and more than a dozen seven-headed nagas, their serpentine “bodies” extending to form the balustrades. Studded with broad windows and passageways, four cross-shaped galleries rim the rectangular complex and face the four cardinal directions. Beyond the southern gallery is a large open space with a walkway running straight to the main sanctuary and its surrounding cloisters.

The impressive main prang, standing 28 metres tall. Photo taken in or around Prasat Hin Phimai , Phimai, Thailand by David Luekens.

The impressive main prang, standing 28 metres tall. Photo: David Luekens

The central prang represents Mount Meru, the centre of the universe where the gods reside according to Hindu mythology. Visitors can step inside the connected mondop with a stone hall leading to a sacred naga-hooded Buddha image. Streaks of sunlight reach the image through doorways placed on all four sides, while a duct in the corner once drained the holy water used for ceremonies.

Complementing the central prang is the smaller Brahman tower, built of laterite by order of King Jayavarman VII during upgrades to Phimai undertaken around the early 13th century. An extremely rare statue of this Khmer king was discovered here along with images of Phra Pachit and Nang Oraphim, characters from the locally revered folktale that bears ... Travelfish members only (Around 500 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
Phimai Historical Park is located in the heart of Phimai town, just west of the clock tower on Anantajinda.

Prasat Hin Phimai
Central Phimai
Daily 07:00-18:00.
T: (044) 471 568 
Admission: 100 baht

Location map for Prasat Hin Phimai

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A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Phimai.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Phimai.
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