From the moment you step off the train it is clear that monkeys are the main focus of Lopburi, for residents and visitors alike. Small enough to walk all around in 30 to 45 minutes, it is easy to navigate on foot.
We recommend using the bathroom at the train station (3 Baht, bring your own toilet paper or buy an entire roll for 10 Baht) before embarking on your monkey search as it can be difficult to find a public restroom otherwise. When you exit the very small train station, turn right. There are plenty of tuk tuk drivers ready to take you to Monkey Temple (Wat Phra Prang Sam Yot in Thai), but unless you are carrying lots of baggage with you, it’s easy to walk the 100 meters. The temple will be at the end of the road right in front of you.
Starting at about 50 meters, however, keep your eyes open for monkeys…on wires above, on the sidewalks and on cars, which may or may not be moving at the time. The monkeys (actually long-tailed macaques) on the street will most likely not bother you; however, before paying the 50 Baht admission to the Monkey Temple, be sure to do the following to ensure you enjoy your visit:
1) Take off and secure all glasses, jewelry, hair ties, scrunchies or hair clips of any kind. They painfully ripped out Ligeia’s hair clip. (Try to get a hair clip back from a monkey without looking like a crazy person!)
2) Do not take in any food or drink unless you plan to give it to the monkeys. They will find it anyway. This includes bottles of water. We witnessed a monkey relieve a visitor of her water bottle and watched in amazement when the monkey unscrewed the top and drank from it like a human would.
3) If your camera has a strap or way to fasten it tightly around your wrist or neck, use it. Cameras seem to be one of the items monkeys enjoy taking the most.
4) If you find yourself with lots of monkeys all over you and you want them off, one way is to spin very fast and they will fly off. Do not sit or lie down as this will only encourage more to jump on you.
Especially around the back of the temple, monkeys will jump on you. Depending on whether you welcome this or not, consider either hiring a guide (who carries a long stick to keep them away) or simply stay back and out of the coveted shaded areas and observe from the perimeter.
The monkeys are mostly harmless, but it is possible that some will bite you. If you do get bitten, check to see if the skin was broken, in which case we recommend getting treatments for rabies (5 shots in all and this does not include the 3 vials of immunoglobulin that they will inject directly into the wound – ouch!) During the Monkey Festival in late November, there are rabies clinics set up just outside the temple. If you are worried about germs in general, consider bringing some sanitizer with you.
The entrance fee is 50 Baht for non-Thais and 10 Baht for Thais or those holding a Thai work permit. There is an even cheaper option, however, which entails walking past the monkey temple, keeping it on your left and walking in the back gate where there is no ticket booth.
What else is there in Lopburi besides the Monkey Temple?
A visit to Monkey Temple can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how adventurous you want to be with the monkeys. The good news is that once you leave, you can come back later the same day. Just show them your ticket and say “don chao”, meaning “this morning”. This allows you to take a monkey break and perhaps get something to eat or visit the museum or other ruins before playing with or photographing monkeys again.
If you have time to kill before your train leaves or if it is late, which it most likely will be except for the few tains that originate in or just before Lopburi, consider visiting Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat. It is serene with flowering trees and old ruins. For a 50 Baht entrance fee, it is the perfect place to find some shade and relax. Located directly across from the train station you can actually hear the announcements when a train is arriving, with enough time to simply walk across the street and board your train.
Monkeys can only be seen at and around the Monkey Temple. It is rare to see a monkey further in the center of town. You can actively see Lopburi residents giving monkeys things to eat and they don’t seem bothered by them. A taxi driver even smiled as he brushed off monkey poop from the top of his cab. Traffic stops for monkeys crossing the street and it is understood that if you park across from the Monkey Temple that monkeys will immediately investigate your car. They seem to really enjoy pick-up trucks the best.
If you want a monkey experience where you can sit down in the shade and just watch the monkeys without them climbing all over you, scratching or biting you, consider sitting on the single step in the right hand corner of the alley just across from the Monkey Temple. They will walk by you but their attention will be elsewhere. It’s also a nice view of the temple.
Traveling from Lopburi to Ayuthaya?
You can pick up a blue southbound train schedule from the ticket counter and it is fairly easy to read. The trains on this schedule are marked ORD, RAP or SP EXP. ORD trains (Ordinary) cost only 13 Baht, having no assigned seats and take about 1 1/2 hours to Ayuthaya. RAP trains (Rapid) cost 20 Baht with no assigned seats and still taking the same 1 1/2 hours. The price for an SP EXP train (Special Express) bumps up to a whopping 310 Baht, which gives you an assigned seat and takes 45 minutes. The woman at the ticket counter reported that the Special Express Train leaving at 18:05 is always 1 to 2 hours late every day, nullifying the quicker travel time.
If you are concerned about time, chose a train that does not originate in far away places such as Chiang Mai as these are more likely to be late with all the stops they have to make before getting to Lopburi. The best trains for on time performance are the 5:15am, 6am, 8am and 5:27pm (17:27).