Last updated on February 28, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Thailand

How to best experience the Lopburi Monkey Temple

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 altogether.

I love these animals, but I know they are a bit cheeky and they get angry very quickly if they feel annoyed. Basically, they are like toddlers with the strength of an adult, resulting in being dangerous sometimes.

A cooler corner of the Prang Sam Yod Temple_LopBuri_20121223_089_90_91-min
A cooler corner of the Prang Sam Yod Temple

the Lopburi Monkey Temple – Prang Sam Yod

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 in the “Planet of the Apes“….a reverse perspective.

The admission fee to the temple is around $2

Inside the Prang Sam Yod Temple
Inside the Prang Sam Yod Temple

Lopburi Monkey Temple – Key Points

  1. Unique Experience: The Lopburi Monkey Temple offers a one-of-a-kind interaction with macaque monkeys, who are considered sacred and are a major tourist attraction.
  2. Historical Significance: The temple, officially known as Prang Sam Yod, dates back to the 13th century and has both Hindu and Buddhist influences.
  3. Architectural Beauty: The temple features three striking towers (“prangs”) adorned with intricate carvings, making it a marvel of Khmer architecture.
  4. Visitor Guidelines: It’s crucial to secure all belongings, as the monkeys are known to snatch items. Also, consider getting a rabies vaccine before your visit.
  5. Photography Tips: Avoid using sticks with your cameras and make slow movements to not attract monkey attention. A zoom lens is recommended for capturing shots from a safe distance.
  6. Local Culture: Lopburi is a small town with a local market, offering an authentic Thai experience devoid of mass tourism.
  7. Getting There: Multiple options are available for reaching Lopburi from Bangkok, including an organized trip, bus, or train, each with its own pros and cons.

The history behind the Lopburi Monkey Temple

The Lopburi Monkey Temple, officially known as Prang Sam Yod, is a captivating historical site that dates back to the 13th century. Located in the heart of Lopburi, Thailand, this Khmer-style temple was originally built as a Hindu shrine dedicated to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

Over time, it underwent a religious transformation and became a Buddhist temple.

The temple is most famous for its resident troop of macaque monkeys, who have made the ancient ruins their home. These monkeys are considered sacred and are a significant tourist attraction, as well as a symbol of the city.

The architecture of Prang Sam Yod is striking, featuring three towers (“prangs”), connected by a corridor. Intricate carvings and stonework adorn the structure.

My tips for the Lopburi Monkey Temple visit

Here are some of my advice on Lopburi and how to deal with the monkeys:

  • 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 cameras. They actually attract monkeys as they think you want to play with them.
  • do not make any sudden move if they come close 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.

When outside watch out for the monkeys trying to still your water and food.

Should I visit the Lopburi Monkey Temple?

These macaque monkeys 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 happened (you can read a few stories on the net).

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.

I do not want to create anxiety. Be relaxed and it will be fine. Just be aware that these are wild animals and they cannot be controlled, although there are a couple of guys around with sticks to make sure things are fine.

Photography in and around the temple

As I said, do not use sticks and take the camera or your mobile solid in hands. Do not leave your phone in the back pocket, a clear target for monkeys being so shiny.

Besides that, whenever you see a nice angle or situation, stop and wait for a while before taking the photo. Sudden movements create interest in monkeys.

Slowly position yourself in front of your subject and take the photo. It’s always better to stay away from the monkeys and use a zoom lens instead.

You may also be lucky with some Buddha monks around. It will add a nice contrast with the typical orange clothes.

Monkeys and monks in the Sam Yod temple
Monkeys and monks in the Sam Yod temple

My usual rule of thumb is to have a talk with the person, in this case, the monk, have a laugh about something and before leaving ask if I can have a few shots. Rarely it doesnโ€™t work. You can check the FREE Reference Guide to Travel Photography for more tips.

Lopburi, the monkey town in Thailand

Why visit this town?

There are many reasons however the monkey population is most probably the highest 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 tourism is not the main source of income. It was indeed a long time since I have not visited a Thai market without the impression of being almost in China, I guess a side effect of 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
A macaque stealing and drinking water from a bottle in the Lopburi streets

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 for funny and interesting photos.

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
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 ๐Ÿ™‚

The monkey buffet festival is organised by the Lopburi citizens on a yearly basis to greet the macaques, an animal that the townspeople believe, brings luck to their lives.

Bangkok to Lopburi trip

There are 3 ways to organise your travel to Lopburi.

You can 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 $4. 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 $3 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 $12. The arrival station is just meters away from the temple and the old town.

My accommodation

On my way to Lopburi, I decided to stop and visit 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 at 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.

Noom Hotel

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 in this accommodation option because of the available activities like horse riding and rice planting as well as cooking classes. A place to be based for a few days.

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Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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