Let’s start straight away with a question.
Why should you plan a trip to the Lopburi Monkey Temple?
Because it is unique in its genre.
Of course, if you are scared of monkeys, avoid it all together.
I love these animals, but I know they are a bit cheeky and they get angry very quickly if they feel annoyed by you. Basically they are like toddlers with the strength of an adult, resulting in being dangerous sometime.
I have been to other similar temples, like the snake temple in Penang, however the Prang Temple is a bit different. Monkeys here are everywhere, they are pretty wild too and there is no real control, just a couple of guys with a stick to send them away from the entrance.
Yes, because they are not allowed inside the temple, which makes your visit a bit more relaxed. It makes it also unique in a way that you are inside, behind the bars, and the animals are outside, in front of the bars, like a zoo….but in reverse, a different prospective
A cooler corner of the Prang Sam Yod Temple
Lopburi, the monkey town in Thailand
Why visiting this town?
There are many reasons however the monkey population is most probably the highest in priority.
Lopburi is a small town with almost no trace of tourism, a local market with real local food and products.
Of course I was not the first traveller to arrive there but for sure the town is not living of tourism. It was indeed a long time that I have not visited a Thai market without the impression to be almost in China, I guess a side effect of the globalisation.
Real good honest street food and almost no English spoken. Back to the old hand signals ordering the food looking at the table around you.
The most notable characteristic of this town is the monkey population, all around the little streets with a big colony at the temple in the old city centre.
A macaque stealing and drinking water from a bottle in the Lopburi street
It was quite interesting to see so many monkeys using the abandoned shops as a new home, with the just born macaques all around.
So many opportunities of funny and interesting photos.
Prang Sam Yod, the Temple
At the temple there are so many monkeys around you that a good way to visit the area is actually to stay inside the temple itself (no access for animals).
Inside the Prang Sam Yod Temple
When outside watch out for the monkeys trying to still your water and food.
Here are some of my advice on Lopburi and how to deal with the moneys:
- put everything in your bag and close it. And I mean everything. Water bottles, glasses, rings, earrings etc. Anything that is sparkling or shining.
- you can leave your rings on and of course they will not be able to steal them but you may attract anyway monkeys and this may cause a problem.
- if you have a camera don’t keep it around the neck but instead hold it in your hand with the strap all around your wrist. The risk is that a monkey can jump on your neck trying to pull the neck strap.
- don’t use sticks with your action cameras. They actually attract moneys as they think you want to play with them.
- do not make any sudden move if they come to you. Be as gentle as you can. They will go away quite quickly
- they are interested in the hair. If you have a cap or hut I would put it in the bag.
Now, I do not want to create any sort of anxiety.
They are indeed funny animals however they can get very cheeky. And you can’t really ask them to leave if they get too “naughty”.
There is also the risk that they can bite you, and it has been happening…you hear lots of these stories around.
If you want to play safe organise your rabies vaccine before travelling to Lopburi. It’s a good practice anyway, even if you do not visit a monkey temple in Thailand.
Personally, in case you get a bite I highly suggest a rabies shot at the local hospital. It may be also covered by your travel insurance, if you have any. Do not take any further risk otherwise it may result in a long and expensive process.
You may also be lucky with some Buddha monks around. It will add more contest to the photo beside a nice contrast with the typical orange clothes.
Monkeys and monks in the Sam Yod temple
My usual rule of thumbs is to have a talk with the person, in this case the monk, have a laugh about something and before leaving asking if I can have few shots. Rarely it doesn’t work. You can check here other tips of photographying people in your trip.
The admission fee to the temple is around $2
The Lopburi Monkey Festival
If you can, try to organise your trip to Lopburi for the Monkey Buffet Festival which is held on the last Sunday in November.
A tiny just born macaque outside the Prang Sam Yod Temple
Thousands of macaques will assemble around the Prang Sam Yod Temple waiting for the famous Lopburi monkey banquet. They almost know it will happen on that day and the excitement is on.
Tons of fresh food is carried, mostly based on the monkey taste, read bananas, fruit and ice cream. Certainly they do not have an etiquette and in no time the crowd of macaques rushes at the buffet, eating wildly like kids devour candies on Halloween day 🙂
The monkey buffet festival is organised by the Lopburi citizens on a yearly basis to greet the macaques, an animal that in the townspeople believe, brings luck to their life.
Previously I gave my advice on Lopburi and how to deal with these beautiful, although naughty, animals. For the festival you need to pay extra attention.
Bangkok to Lopburi trip
There are 3 ways to organise your travel to Lopburi.
The first one is to book an organised trip. The tour operator will pick you up from the hotel very early in the morning and you will be back by the late hours of the day. An exhausting day.
Keep in mind that the drive from Bangkok to Lopburi takes between 2 and 3 hours based on traffic condition
The second possibility is to take a bus from the Bus station Mor Chit, north of the city. The ticket costs $3. There is a drawback though. The arrival station in Lopburi is situated in the new part of the city and you will need local transportation to reach the Prang Sam Yod Temple.
The last option is to take the train and this is what I did. It takes about 3 hours and it costs around $2 for the third class ticket. I agree, the seat is not the most comfortable one however the opportunities for some travel and street photography are just immense.
The first class usually cost between 3 and 4 times as much, or around $8.
The arrival station is just meters away from the temple and the old town.
On my way to Lopburi I decided to stop and visit first Ayutthaya with the many temples to explore.
It is located halfway between Bangkok and Lopburi and it could be even used as a base to visit Lopburi on a single day trip. Surely the selection of hotels in Ayutthaya is greater and the Baan Thai House is on top of my list.
I decided anyway to spend a night in Lopburi, just to experience the city, and the monkeys, with a different light. I booked at Noom Guesthouse, probably the best accommodation in town.
It is cosy, clean, spacious and well located, close to the temple however enough far away from the monkeys to have an easy time without being always vigilant 🙂
I was lucky enough to be there on Wednesday, the day for the night market, right in front of the guesthouse!!
Another option I investigated was the Wanlapa Farmstay. It is not located in the centre of the city, in fact it is well outside however they can organise transportation easily (at least this is what they told me when I contacted them).
I was interested to this accommodation option because of the available activities like horse riding and rice planting as well as cooking class. A place to be based for few days.
I eventually booked at the Noom Guesthouse because I decided to have a shorter stay and move on, direction Cambodia, the day after.