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Departing Ayutthaya I made my way once again to the train station and purchased a 13 baht (just 40 cents!) ticket to my next destination: Lopburi. Lopburi is just two hours north of Ayutthaya and is another city visited frequently by day-trippers from Bangkok or by those traveling north to Chiang Mai.

Once again I loved traveling by train! This time there were a few other backpackers in the 3rd-class car and we were all headed to Lopburi. With strength in numbers I felt far less anxious about missing my stop.

As soon as we arrived at the train station I saw that Lopburi really embraced its claim to tourism fame: its wild monkeys. Yup, I’m willing to bet not one of us travelers would be getting off at this stop were it not for the town’s famous primates. Still, the locals are in the process of trying to diversify the tourism here with growing attractions like rock-climbing and tours to bat caves and Thailand’s largest sunflower fields.

As Lopburi is primarily toured in just a few hours, it really has the smallest collection of accommodation options I have seen anywhere in Thailand. There are a few mid-range hotels outside of town, a handful of fading Chinese-style hotels in the town center, and one simple guesthouse. Luckily that one guesthouse is charming enough to make up for the lack of competition. Welcome to :

While there were cute bungalows and air-con rooms available, I opted for a 150 baht ($4.75usd) fan room with a shared bath to offset the accommodations splurge I had treated myself to in Ayutthaya. This turned out to be a mistake given that the temperatures were soaring over 100ยฐF during the day and didn’t cool down much at night. I was sleeping pretty badly overall at the time but that night I had some really feverish nightmares that I think were brought on by the heat. The next morning I decided that as I was a non-masochist traveling through Southeast Asia during the hottest month of the year I would treat myself to air conditioning from there forward.

Despite my bad room choice, I loved Noom Guesthouse. Lopburi is a sleepy town throughout the year but as this was low season the place was really dead in the evenings. I found myself spending quite a bit of my two days in Lopburi just sitting on the stoop of Noom’s, hanging out with the family and the band of adorable chihuahuas that clearly thought themselves part of it.

But believe it or not those adorable pups are not the creatures people come to Lopburi to see. Despite the fact that once I arrived and settled in and got some work done the temples were about to close, I wandered out around town in hopes of finding some monkeys. Oh, did I ever find them!

Cutest baby monkey in the universe alert, coming up below left.

I was absolutely amazed at the number of monkeys crawling the streets of Lopburi. I knew they would be abundant at the temples, but I hadn’t anticipated that they would be everywhere. Swinging from telephone lines, hanging out on fences, clamoring over cars: it was clear who ruled this town.

While I knew I wouldn’t be able to actually get in, curiousity got the best of me and I headed over to Prang Sam Yot, or Monkey Central, as its known around… this blog.

This was clearly home base. Monkeys were everywhere, staring out at traffic, grooming each other, and curiously approaching visitors. In some cases the cheeky guys got a little too curious. I nearly peed myself the first time one of them made a flying leap for my waist and wouldn’t let go!

As always, click to enlarge

Believe it or not, I am no stranger to being attacked by our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. When I was about 11 my family visited Spain on my first-ever trip abroad. During said vacation we took a day trip to Gibraltar, a small hotly contested piece of rock currently under British sovereignty. Gibraltar is home to 30,000 people and 300 macaque monkeys who, as you can see from this excerpt from my family photo album, I got quite friendly with on my visit. As you can also see, I was making some pretty amazing hat-related fashion statements at the time.

Back in Lopburi, one monkey even managed to grab my lens cap and make off with it. I figured it was gone for good until a local kid ran off with slingshot and shyly returned cap a few moments later. I was a little more careful after that but every time I reached into my purse I would see a few of them perk up and pace towards me, thinking I had food. There was a lot of shrieking and nervous sprinting involved, and the night ended with me furiously typing highly specific phrases like “Lopburi monkey bites RABIES?!?!?!” into Google. Good times.

Still, these monkeys’ bravado did lead to some pretty hilarious photo bombs. This photo was taken one moment:

And this was taken the next, when a monkey knocked me off balance by jumping on my shoulder.

And then this exposure occurred when one little guy seemed jealous that he wasn’t part of my photo shoot:

It was a pretty perfect preview of what was to come. Eventually the monkeys ran me off with their increasingly unwelcome tiny primate hugs, but I still couldn’t wait to return the next day and explore the sights and simians of Lopburi in their full glory.

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25 Comments...
  • Grandma Burr
    June 25 2012

    Want a pet monkey for Xmas????

    • Meihoukai
      June 25 2012

      No, Tucker keeps my busy when I’m home ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus I don’t think he would take well to a new animal friend in the house…

  • Caty
    June 25 2012

    oh my word Meihoukai those pictures are to die for. I love the shot where the monkey also wants to be part of the picture. Haha and it is so cute how he is holding on to your hip in the other pic. I would love to go there one day and see them for myself but I know I would also freak out when they would jump on me. But I am sure they cheered you up a little bit during that sad time. Can’t beat a monkey hug, huh? =)

    • Meihoukai
      June 25 2012

      They were adorable and yes, they did a really good job cheering me up ๐Ÿ™‚ I definitely freaked out a little when they jumped on me, I think most people would!

  • Lindsey
    June 25 2012

    Ahh monkeys! I can’t help but think it looks like an amazing experience, though perhaps one that would get old very quickly!
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    • Meihoukai
      June 25 2012

      You’re right, I did get a little frustrated on the second day when I saw them looking me over and slinking towards me, going in for the kill. But there is something inherently hilarious about being jumped on by a monkey!

  • Dani
    June 25 2012

    OMG, why did I not know about this town?! So many monkeys, I LOVE IT!! It reminds me of Hampi in India where the monkeys would also just run around the whole town. I absolutely love monkeys, but Jess is rather scared of them… I am not sure if she’d have as much fun in Lopburi as I would but I’ll try to get her to go there with me next time we’re in Thailand ๐Ÿ™‚
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    • Meihoukai
      June 25 2012

      Dani I think you guys would really like Lopburi even without the monkeys, as it is a truly laid back and quiet little place. Aside from a bus load of package tourists unloading on the main temple once a day, tourism is in its infancy here! It’s a very warm place… you’ve got to go ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hannah
    June 25 2012

    I had a very similar experience in Ubud, Bali, where I was literally covered in monkeys when I made the mistake of carrying a bag of fruit down the street! They we really cute, but quite scary as well! Great photos as always, and that definitely is the cutest baby monkey ever ๐Ÿ™‚
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    • Meihoukai
      June 25 2012

      I’ve heard so much about this monkey forest in Ubud, I simply have to get there someday! It really is a funny sensation of oohing and aaahing over the cuteness of something one moment, and then running shrieking from it the next!

  • Jess
    June 26 2012

    Hey Meihoukai,

    I am thrilled that you are posting on your trip, as I am currently in Vietnam and headed to Laos in a week and Northern Thailand after that!

    I am curious- do you buy your train ticket a day or two in advance, or do you just head to the train station when you are ready to depart? Sounds like you are getting some amazing deals and I would love to do it the same way!

    Thanks!
    Jess

    • Meihoukai
      June 27 2012

      Hey Jess, you should definitely check my archives for my Vietnam posts in case you are looking for some inspiration for your final week ๐Ÿ™‚ I was doing this particular northern Thailand trip in the middle of April, which is super low season. So amazingly I was able to arrive at the train station on the spot and book overnight sleepers with the coveted bottom bunk! Unfortunately you’d be risking it to try that in high season, at least with overnight sleeper trains. If you’re on a shorter day trip like Bangkok to Ayuthhaya or Lopburi and don’t mind third class you’ll be fine not booking ahead. However I recommend always when possible booking from the station itself, this will always be cheaper than from a travel agent. Good luck!

  • Chrystal McKay
    June 26 2012

    Ohh the monkeys! In Bali at the temples it is the same way and one of them managed to make off with my friends sunglasses….after jumping on her head and ripping them away! They are feisty little fellows!
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    • Meihoukai
      June 27 2012

      I still haven’t been to Bali…. yet another reason to go!

  • Daniel McBane
    June 28 2012

    I have to say, I was not a fan of those damn monkeys at all.

    One of them climbed my friend, took her sandwich out of her hand while she was eating it, then sat down in front of us and had lunch. Whenever we got close he screeched at us menacingly as if to say, “You’d better keep away from my sandwich, humans!”

    And another one took my water bottle out of my pocket and made off with it.

    When we first got there, we were wondering why the Thai tourists were all carrying sticks. Two minutes later, we joined their group and let them defend us.
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    • Meihoukai
      June 28 2012

      It’s definitely an experience! I guess you just have to embrace the monkey madness or it drives you crazy!

  • ShrinkTheGlobe
    June 28 2012

    Was 2 days too much for Lopburi? If you get in early in the morning, will 1 day suffice for all the sites?

    • Meihoukai
      June 28 2012

      Lopburi can totally be done in one day, check out my most recent post for more about the sights around town. However I quite enjoyed Noom guesthouse and for someone taking their time I would say there are worse places to overnight! For someone traveling north from Bangkok I would recommend leaving Bangkok in the morning and spending a day and night in Ayutthaya, the next day in Ayutthaya again before taking the train to Lopburi for one night there. In the morning see all the sights before catching the night train to Chiang Mai. Or, if you have more time then I did, stop in Sukkothai as well!

      • ShrinkTheGlobe
        June 28 2012

        Cool. Sounds like a plan.

      • Vicky
        July 13 2012

        We’ll be getting into Thailand from Laos so I think we’ll do as you suggest here the opposite way around with a stop over in Sukhothai as well! Thanks for the tip!
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        • Meihoukai
          July 13 2012

          I’m so glad to hear it! It’s definitely a great route, when I return to Thailand I will definitely hit up Sukhothai as well.

  • Melissa
    May 12 2013

    Hi Meihoukai!! Can I ask if you visited the sunflower field when you were at Lopburi?? it was during june? Thanks alot!!!

    • Meihoukai
      May 17 2013

      Hi Melissa! I was in Lopburi in April and sadly the sunflower fields were not blooming. I believe they are in full force in November. Hope that helps!