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Living in Lopburi article




You may have already heard of Lopburi, if only of beautiful sunflowers and an abundance of monkeys. But there is a lot more to this provincial capital. Foreign residents enjoy a more traditional Thai experience than offered in tourist-oriented towns while living a lifestyle that is both comfortable and fascinating.

Lopburi has a population of 70,000 and is located 150 km due north of Bangkok. While the new town only dates back to the 1930s and is typical of Thai provincial towns, the old town dates back well over 1,200 years and contains buildings and ruins from a several periods in Thai history. 

The origins of Lopburi can be dated back to at least the Dvaravati period (6th century) of Thai history, when it was known by the ancient name of Lavo. In the 11th century, the Khmer king Suryavarman I annexed Lopburi into his Angkorian kingdom. The rise of the Sukhotai kingdom to the north during the 14th and 15th centuries saw power wrested from the Khmers but their influence remained well into the Ayutthaya period, although Lopburi's importance diminished during this time. 


Lopburi again rose to prominence during the reign of King Narai in the 17th century. Fearing a naval blockade of Ayutthaya by the Dutch, King Narai establish Lopburi as a second capital, and even favoured it over Ayutthaya on completion of his palace in 1665. During this time, Lopburi hosted visitors from many European countries and King Narai even named a Greek adventurer his prime minister! Events from this period are reenacted in February each year at the King Narai Festival.


On King Narai's death in 1688, the capital was returned to Ayutthaya and the town experienced several centuries of neglect until the latter half of the 19th century, when King Mongkut (Rama IV) restored the palace as a royal residence and added several more buildings, one of which today houses the Narai National Museum, home to artifacts from the Dvaravati, Khmer, Sukhotai, and Ayutthaya periods.  

In the 1930s, Prime Minister Marshall Phibulsonggran developed Lopburi as a military centre, designing the layout of the new town and establishing several military bases in the vicinity. During this time, historical monuments and buildings came under control of the present-day Fine Arts Department, leading to their restoration and protection.

As for the monkeys, no-one really knows where these crab-eating macaques originated. Several decades ago, they took up residence at the Khmer Sarn Phra Karn shrine. They subsequently split into two troops, with the second taking up residence at the adjacent Khmer site of Sam Prang Yot. Today, they are simultaneously revered as a source of good luck for the town, honoured in a festival each November, and reviled as a nuisance to businesses and residents. 

Getting To and From, and Around Lopburi

You can get to and from Lopburi in several ways:

  • Minivans travel to and from Victory Monument in Bangkok every 15 - 30 minutes for 100 baht. The journey is about 1 hour 45 minutes.
  • A number of trains each day travel to and from Hualamphong Station in Bangkok (or catch the MRT to Bang Sue Station near Chatuchak Park). A ticket costs 30 baht for 3rd class, 125 baht for 2nd class, and 400 baht for 1st class. The journey ranges from 3 hours for a standard 3rd class train to just under 2 hours for a 1st class express.
  • Air-conditioned buses travel to and from the Northern Bus Terminal at Mo Chit in Bangkok every 15 - 30 minutes for 80 baht. The journey is about 2 hours.
  • Taxis will drive you from Bangkok to Lopburi for about 1400 baht.

Getting around Lopburi in daylight hours is quite easy, once you have a few words of Thai, with motorcycle taxis, song teows, and local buses plying most routes with fares ranging from 5 to 20 baht.

Transport is more difficult at night. Motorcycle taxis operate from a handful of popular locations only. All other transport stops at dusk. One option is to obtain the telephone number of a couple of drivers, although few speak any English. Another idea is to purchase a new (from 35,000 baht) or used (from 10,000 baht) motorcycle which will make life much easier. Roads within Lopburi are not particularly busy, although care must still be taken. A motorcycle will also be handy for sightseeing in the surrounding countryside.



Housing in Lopburi is readily available and quite affordable:

  • Single room condos start at about 1,500 baht per month.
  • Comfortable and modern two and three bedroom townhouses (pictured right) range from 3,000 to 4,500 baht per month.
  • Stand alone houses range from 4,000 to 6,000 per month.


Most have air-conditioning in at least one room. Some offer limited furnishing such as beds, refrigerators, tables, and seating, although there are many shops in Lopburi where new and used furniture can be bought and delivered quite cheaply. 

Utilities are quite low. A person using one airconditioner each night would expect a monthly bill of no more than 1,300 baht. Water costs woudl be no more than 80 baht unless operating your own washing machine. A telephone costs 100 baht per month and 3 baht per local call.  


Food and Entertainment

Like most Thai towns, Lopburi has so many dining options at such affordable prices that it seems to hard to justify ever cooking for yourself! 

Dining options range from night food markets (pictured right) near the railway station in the old town, and in the new town behind Sa Keow roundabout, and on the road heading north from King Narai roundabout. Every Thai dish under the sun can be found for about 25 baht.

There are numerous more comfortable restaurants scattered throughout the town, both airconditioned and outdoor, offering a wide range of central Thai and Isaan dishes. A large meal for two without alcohol costs about 200 - 250 baht.

Fortunately or unfortunately, as there are less than 30 foreign residents of Lopburi, there no entertainment venues targeting westerners. There are, however, a number of places offering live music in comfortable, although often crowded, surroundings from about 9 pm each night. There are also a number of smaller, outdoor venues with live music and a number of karaoke bars targeting a Thai audience. Many venues broadcast live sport, in particular English Premier League games. Getting around to some of these places is difficult without your own transport.

For more placid entertainment, there is a cinema complex at Big C that usually has at lest one film with an English soundtrack, and another cinema complex is being built at the new Tesco Lotus. UBC TV is available throughout Lopburi for about 1,600 baht for the Gold package, as well as a local cable company offering a handful of English language channels for 250 baht per month.

But don't forget! A weekend in Bangkok is only a couple of hours away and makes for a nice change of pace from time to time!  

Other Activities
Lopburi has a range of other activities, particularly for the sports minded. The military presence has ensured a range of quality, well maintained  facilities.

The golf course is quite a pleasant surprise. It is the home course of Thai golfer Thongchai Jaidee, who went to school in Lopburi and also served in the military here. It is a challenging and beautifully maintained course where a round of golf can be enjoyed at a fraction of the cost elsewhere in Thailand.  A round including club hire and a caddy costs a little under 1000 baht and no booking is required mid-week.

Swimmers are well catered for. The sport stadium has a large swimming pool open daily  with a charge of 20 baht. Two hotels in Lopburi also offer casual use of their swimming pools. Lopburi Residence, near the Language Institute of Lopburi, charges 30 baht. Food and beverages are available and it is clear and quiet, except in the late afternoon when many children decend. Lopburi Resort, on the eastern outskirts of town, have a resort style pool and charge 80 baht, which includes access to their reasonably well equipped fitness centre.  
The sports stadium offers range of activities, including Tai Chi and aerobics, at minimal cost. The complex also has several sporting fields, running tracks, a pistol range, and well-maintained tennis courts. The complex is used only sparingly by locals, but comes alive after about 4 pm each day, when access to facilities can be difficult.
Further afield, Lopburi is ideal for local sightseeing by bicycle, or motor cycle. For the cyclist, the region is quite flat, except for a couple of modest hilly areas out of town Other than the highways, the roads are quiet and, by Thai standards, well-maintained and safe. Lopburi is surrounded by attractive small villages and restaurants that make exploring a laid back but enjoyable experience. The abundance of canals, rivers, and streams offers fishing enthusiasts an outlet, although while it is common to see Thais fishing in these areas, they rarely seem to catch much!   


Other Amenities

As a provincial capital, Lopburi is well serviced with a range of amenities.

There are several traditional markets in Lopburi, including a food market and general market in the old town and a food market at the Sa Keow roundabout. Weekly markets pop up throughout the town at their designated times. There are shops selling everything you may need, but English is fairly limited so you may need the assistance of Thai to either locate a shop or negotiate a purchase.

There is a large Big C supermarket at the eastern end of the new town, on your left as you head toward Bangkok by the Saraburi route. This supermarket has an increasing range of western foods. DVDs and the like are available in the same building. A Tesco Lotus is currently being constructed, surprisingly close to Big C. 

There are several hospitals, both private and public, including the comfortable Meung Narai Hospital, on the right had side about 1 kilometre past Big C as you head toward Bangkok by the Saraburi route.  There are a number of dentists throughout Lopburi. Many are western trained and speak English.

Internet facilities are available both in the old town and at the Sa Keow roundabout in the new town, both at about 20 baht per hour. If you have a phone line in your house, broadband access can be arranged for about 700 baht per month through T.T & T.  Post office facilities are available in the old town and near the Sa Keow roundabout. 

There are two major police stations. One is in the old town in the street behind King Narai Palace and one at the King Narai roundabout in the new town. There is also a tourist police office located near the Language Institute of Lopburi.

Laundry services are available throughout the town, usually costing about 100 baht to wash and iron a 5 kg load. Housekeeping services are available from about 400 baht per day.  


English Pages of the Language Institute of Lopburi

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Lopburi Map article

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The Language Institute of Lopburi
104/18-19 Thanon Naresuan, Tambon Khaosamyod, Amphoe Mueang Lopburi,
Lop Buri 15000 THAILAND
Tel. 0-3662-1457, 08-1851-3223  Fax. 0-3661-5883