‘Monkey Business’ in Lopburi
Lopburi is a province, as well as a town, in central Thailand.
Lopburi is a province, as well as a town, in central Thailand. Like neighboring Saraburi and Nakhon Sawan, Lopburi is known for its serenity, endless fields, and mountains in the distance. However, there is one particular thing about Lopburi that offsets the peace, though it is one of the main draws of tourism to the town itself: the monkeys.
When driving to Lopburi, which is located approximately 150 kilometers north of Bangkok, visitors will notice the presence of long-tailed macaques monkeys even before getting to the city center. A monkey on a power line here, another monkey cuddling her babies in a tree over there, and more monkeys eating from food left out for soi dogs over all over the place. It goes on and on, and as you get closer to the city center, it starts to feel as if there are more monkeys than people living in the town.
Situated In the city center of Lopburi is one of the oldest monuments in the province, known as Phra Prang Sam Yot. It is one of the last remaining remnants of the Khmer era and is usually what you'll see if you search for Lopburi or read about it in any guidebook. This is also the epicenter of the monkey population in Lopburi. By the time you arrive at Phra Prang Sam Yot, you will have noticed that the monkeys, though often mischievous, are the town's primary residents.
The monument— and it's monkeys —is situated on a square, of sorts, that is also home to several local vendors and shops. Though these shops do appear to quarrel with the monkeys at times, several shop owners have said that without the monkeys, they might be no tourism to the town.
The local humans come out of their shops and homes several times per day to feed the monkeys and also greet visitors to their town, and watching the monkeys interact with each other is something that can be done for hours on end. Though visitors to Phra Prang Sam Yot have to pay a small fee to get onto the grounds, it's unnecessary if you are there to just take photos or watch the monkeys, as they come and go throughout the town as they wish.
It is important to note that the monkeys, though they appear to be very friendly and forthcoming, are not always safe to approach. The best bet is not to allow them to climb into your shoulders, as they often do. They are also known to put their tiny hands into backpacks and pockets, so make sure to keep your bags zipped and your eyes on your pockets.
There are a few options, besides renting a car, for traveling to Lopburi. The preferred way for tourists is to take the train as it's a scenic ride no matter which direction you are coming from. The other option is to take a van or rent your own car, both of which are more expensive than the train but will get you there faster.