Been there and done that? Probably not! Lovely Lopburi is a side of Thailand you will never see in a big city!
Think you have seen everything in and around Bangkok? Not if you have not visited Lopburi! An ancient capital of the Khmer empire, Lopburi boasts a number of spectacular monuments in the style of Angkor Wat. In the 17th century it became the Thai capital and adopted the architecture of foreign lands, including the court at Versailles. In late November, local citizens offer up a 12-meter banquet table of fruits, nuts and sweets for the monkeys, while human entertainment includes glittering stage performances from the epic Ramayana. In December, local farm fields radiate with dazzling yellow sunflowers.
Embark after breakfast with your private car, driver and personal guide. Once you arrive in Lopburi you visit the Phra Kan shrine, which is teeming with monkeys. A short walk takes you to Phra Prang Sam Yot, a stunningly beautiful Hindu temple. For lunch, why not try award-winning som tam (papaya salad) and garlic fried chicken at one of the local restaurants? Later, wander around Wat Phra Sri Mahatat, a 12th century temple complex boasting numerous elements of both the Sukhothai and the Ayutthaya styles. At the center of town is the impressive Narai Ratchanivet Palace, with its monumental gates and magnificent gardens. A museum here exhibits furnishings and items from everyday life as well as sacred and royal national treasures. Don't miss tasting the fresh fried fish-cakes from the little stand near the entrance - yummy!
If you tire of seeing ruins, you can explore the colorful street market on Surasongkhram Road or fascinating little shops along Phra Ram Road, or wander the peaceful grounds of Wat Sao Thong Thong. Impressive (even in its ruined state) is the Vichayen House is historically fascinating: constructed as a residence for Chevalier de Chaumont, Siam's first French ambassador. (There is a fascinating although controversial gay postscript to the history of the home, which your guide will gladly tell you.) If architecture is your passion, you should not miss the quiet Wat Lai, just a short drive outside the city (you'll also see hundreds of beautiful old teakwood homes along the highway). This ancient monastery is one of the few original Ayutthaya-period temples which escaped being burned by invading armies. The oldest building displays striking design, stucco sculpture masterpieces, and a peaceful interior with a splendid Buddha image.