Lop Buri (ลพบุรี) is one of the central provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Phetchabun, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Saraburi, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, Sing Buri and Nakhon Sawan.
In Ayutthaya period, King Ramathibodi I sent Phra Ramesuan (later King Ramesuan) who positioned Uparaja to reign Lopburi. In 1665 King Narai the Great ordered to build the new palace on the east bank of the Lopburi River and made Lop Buri the second capital of the country in middle of the 17th century as Ayutthaya was threatened by the Dutch. After the king reign, the city was nearly empty and less important.
The city was enriched again when King Mongkut of Rattanakosin renovated the King Narai Palace in 1856. And in 1938 Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram started his plan to relandscape and set Lop Buri as the biggest military base of Thailand.
The slogan of the province is National Treasures of King Narai’s Palace and Phra Kan Shrine, Famous Prang Sam Yot, City of Din So Phong Marl, well-known Pa Sak Jolasid Dam and Golden Land of King Narai the Great.
Office Building of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Central Region Office: Region 7 (อาคารสำนักงานการท่องเที่ยวแห่งประเทศไทย (ททท.) ภาคกลางเขต 7) It is a hip-roof building, constructed in 1930 by Than Phrakhru Lop Buri Khanachan, the abbot of Wat Sao Thong Thong to be a school building, replacing the Khorosan one which was located within Wat Sao Thong Thong. This new school was called Phra Narai School which had been a provincial school for boys.
Phra Narai Ratchaniwet (พระนารายณ์ราชนิเวศน์) King Narai the Great had this palace constructed in 1666 to be his royal residence in Lop Buri. The structures within the compound can be divided into 2 groups in accordance with the period of construction as follows:
Structures during the reign of King Narai the Great include:
Dusit Sawan Thanya Maha Prasat Hall (พระที่นั่งดุสิตสวรรค์ธัญญมหาปราสาท) is a throne hall whose style of fine art is a mixture of Thai and French architecture. Originally, it was an audience hall with a pointed top in the Mondop shape. This was also the place where King Narai the Great received Chevalier de Chaumont and the French envoys in 1685.
Chanthara Phisan Hall (พระที่นั่งจันทรพิศาล) was used as an audience hall, similar to what was stated in the record by the French. At present, the hall is an exhibition venue, presenting the biography of King Narai the Great and the fine arts of Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin.
Suttha Sawan Hall (พระที่นั่งสุทธาสวรรค์) was a private residence of King Narai the Great, located at the inner section of the royal palace. King Narai the Great passed away at this hall on 11 July, 1688.
Phrachao Hao Building (ตึกพระเจ้าเหา) This building clearly presents the architectural characteristics of King Narai the Great’s period. It is a Thai-style brick building with a laterite base. However, at present, all that remains are only the walls, windows and doors of the Ruean Kaeo arch with the Simha or lion base whose patterns can still be seen.
Reception Hall for Foreign Visitors (ตึกรับรองแขกเมือง) It reflects the French architectural style. In accordance with the French chronicle, this building was at the centre of the park, which was divided into a grid, while around the building was a moat.
Phra Khlang Supharat (The Twelve Royal Storage Buildings) (พระคลังศุภรัตน์ (หมู่ตึกสิบสองท้องพระคลัง)) is situated between the water tank and the Reception Hall for Foreign Visitors. It is believed to have been a place to store royal goods and treasures for official use.
Water Tank (อ่างเก็บน้ำหรือถังเก็บน้ำประปา) was constructed of brick with a specially-thick wall at its edge. Underground lies a baked-clay pipe to distribute water from Thale Chup Son and Sap Lek Reservoir to the buildings and halls.
Elephant Stables (โรงช้างหลวง) Most of them have already been ruined with only 10 bases remaining. Elephants living in these stables were the royal or important ones ridden by King Narai the Great, royal family members, or high-ranking aristocrats.
Structures built during the reign of King Rama IV include:
Phiman Mongkut Pavilion (หมู่พระที่นั่งพิมานมงกุฎ) was constructed after the royal command of King Rama IV in 1862 as his private residence when he came to renovate Lop Buri.
Phra Prathiap Buildings (หมู่ตึกพระประเทียบ) They comprise 2 single storey buildings and a group of 8 two-storey brick buildings, constructed for being residential quarters for inner court officials who followed King Rama V when the latter visited Lop Buri.
Thim Dap or Royal Guards Residence (ทิมดาบ หรือที่พักของทหารรักษาการณ์) Passing through the entrance to the middle court, the buildings on both sides of the lawn were the residences of the royal guards of the palace.
Somdet Phra Narai National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติสมเด็จพระนารายณ์) was established in 1923 and was divided into 4 buildings for antique displays as follows:
Wat Sao Thong Thong (วัดเสาธงทอง) The ancient remain that should be visited is Phra Wihan, believed to have originally been constructed as a religious site of another religion because in accordance with the map written by a French craftsman, the area was a residence of the Persians.
Wichayen House (บ้านหลวงรับราชทูต หรือ บ้านหลวงวิชาเยนทร์) It served as the residence for the envoys paying a courtesy call on King Narai the Great in Lop Buri. The important thing is the Christian church, whose plan and design is in a European style but with the entrance and window facades in the Ruean Kaeo style. It is considered as the first Christian church, decorated in the Buddhist temple style. The City Pillar Shrine or Lukson Shrine (ศาลหลักเมือง หรือ ศาลลูกศร) It is an ancient city pillar shrine, called Lukson Shrine. Prince Damrong Rajanupab wrote about this shrine in the legend of Lop Buri that “it has been assumed that the city pillar was the arrow of Phra Ram that has become stone, while the soil mound that formed the city wall was the work of Hanuman – Rama’s monkey warrior”.
Prang Khaek (เทวสถานปรางค์แขก) It is the oldest monument of Lop Buri. It comprises 3 prangs, made of bricks with no adjoining corridors as Prang Sam Yot.
Phra Prang Sam Yot (พระปรางค์สามยอด) The compound comprises 3 prangs linked to one another by a corridor. In the reign of King Narai the Great, Phra Prang Sam Yot was renovated as a Buddhist temple. Inside is enshrined a sandstone Buddha image in the subduing Mara posture, presenting the early Ayutthaya style of art. At present, the image is located outdoors.
San Phra Kan (ศาลพระกาฬ) It is an ancient Khmer sanctuary, constructed of laterite with a high base. Therefore, it was also called “San Sung” (a high shrine). It has been told that at this same location in former times, there were many gigantic fig or Krang trees, where monkeys had lived. Later, people brought food and fruits to make a votive offering to the shrine.
Wat Nakhon Kosa (วัดนครโกษา) Within the compound of the temple are ancient remains of a grand chedi of the Dvaravati period with a prang of the Lop Buri period around the 12th century at the front. Moreover, two large images of god adjusted into Buddha images were discovered and are now kept in the Somdet Phra Narai National Museum.
Wat San Paulo (วัดสันเปาโล) It was a Jesuit church, constructed in the reign of King Narai the Great. At present, the remains are only a side of the wall and an observatory.
Wat Mani Chonlakhan (วัดมณีชลขัณฑ์) An interesting ancient remain is the strange-looking square and tall shape of the chedi, similar to those of the Chiang Saen (Lanna) style. Besides, within the compound of the temple stands a Bodhi tree, planted by King Rama V.
Wat Tong Pu (วัดตองปุ) In the past, it was a gathering place of the Thai army. There is an ancient object which is the only one remaining in Thailand which is a traditional shower or bathing device for monks and Buddha images, called the bathing fountain.
Wat Kawitsararam Ratchaworawihan (วัดกวิศรารามราชวรวิหาร) It has been told that this temple was the venue of the ceremony to drink an oath of allegiance. The principal Buddha image is in the posture of subduing Mara in the U Thong style of art, while the mural paintings are in a floral design.
Wat Choeng Tha (วัดเชิงท่า) It was originally called Wat Tha Kwian because it was a terminal for product-transport carts – Kwian - to the pier in front of the temple. Inside the compound of the temple lie significant buildings which had been constructed from the end of the Ayutthaya until Rattanakosin periods.
Sophon Sin Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์หอโสภณศิลป์) displays the background of the Buddhist monks, the Dhamma and the Buddha, as well as, the background of the temple itself in an exhibition on the knowledge of Buddhism.
Lop Buri Zoo (สวนสัตว์ลพบุรี) The Special Warfare Unit, who took charge of the place, cooperated with other authorities such as various clubs, traders and the public to renovate the zoo to be a place for relaxation and source of knowledge on animals and plants.
Sa Kaeo (สระแก้ว) At the middle of the pond stands a structure similar to a gigantic candle on a large footed tray where symbols of each ministry were decorated around its edge.
Wat Chi Pa Sitaram (วัดชีป่าสิตาราม) Within the compound of the temple is situated a chedi in a bell shape representing the Ayutthaya art. There is also an herbal steam treatment and a traditional Thai massage facilities.
Kraison Siharat Hall (พระที่นั่งไกรสรสีหราช) is commonly known as Phra Thinang Yen or Thale Chup Son Hall. This hall is another residence of King Narai the Great. The hall is located on an island surrounded by Thale Chup Son, which was once a large reservoir surrounded with a dam made of stone and cement.
Wat Yang Na Rangsi and Lop Buri Boat Museum (วัดยาง ณ รังสี และพิพิธภัณฑ์เรือพื้นบ้าน) Lop Buri Boat Museum is at the temple sermon hall, constructed in 1927 on the bank of the Lop Buri River. The hall was granted the award for Best Architectural Preservation in 1993. It reflects the rural Thai temple hall’s architectural style in central Thailand.
Siri Chanthara Nimit Worawihan (Wat Khao Phra Ngam) (วัดสิริจันทรนิมิตวรวิหาร (วัดเขาพระงาม)) In 1912, Phra Ubali Khunupamachan (Chan Sirichantho), an abbot of Wat Borom Niwat in Bangkok and another monk conducted an ascetic practice to this temple. They realised that it had nice geography and thus constructed a Buddha image on this mountain.
Tha Khae Scripture Hall (หอไตรวัดท่าแค) It is the Dharma Scripture hall of the “Lao Lom” community. Normally, a scripture hall is constructed on high columns in a pond. However, the one at this temple is a wooden house with a cruciform plan located on high columns.
Ang Sap Lek (อ่างซับเหล็ก) is a natural ancient reservoir. In 1977, Lop Buri improved the Ang Sap Lek to be a natural tourist attraction by building roads around the reservoir, planting trees, as well as, erecting a summer relaxation pavilion.
Wat Lai (วัดไลย์) There are beautiful remaining ancient stucco relief on the Jakata stories and the Buddha’s life. Maitreya Bodhisattva’s image is another object that has been highly respected by the people from the past. Besides, there are other interesting objects such as an old wihan with slit windows, which is the architecture reflecting the early Ayutthaya style.
Khao Samo Khon (เขาสมอคอน) It is a mountain range which has been important historically. There are overall 4 important temples on this mountain range as follows: Wat Bandai Sam Saen, Wat Tham Tako Phutthasopha, Wat Tham Chang Phueak , and Wat Khao Samo Khon.
Amphoe Ban Mi (อำเภอบ้านหมี่) is famous for Mudmi silk. Most of the locals are Thai Phuan who migrated from Lao PDR. 130 years ago. They named their new settlement as “Ban Mi” after their former Laotian village.
Wat Thammikaram or Wat Khangkhao (วัดธรรมิการาม หรือ วัดค้างคาว) The admirable things of this temple are mural paintings at the 4 sides of the ubosot, depicting the life of the Buddha. The paintings present a slight combination of the Western style of arts such as the shading method on trees, and other facets. .
Wat Thong Khung (วัดท้องคุ้ง) Interesting objects are the ubosot on a junk, floating in the Bang Kham River. Besides, there is a funeral hall called Sala Thammasangwet, applied into the shape of a public bus.
Wat Thong Khung Tha Lao (วัดท้องคุ้งท่าเลา) An interesting aspect of this place is the entrance of the temple in the shape of Hanuman with its mouth wide open, decorated with glass in distinctive colours.
Wat Nong Tao (Wat Phanit Thammikaram) (วัดหนองเต่า หรือ วัดพาณิชธรรมมิการาม) The interesting point is the ubosot on the back of a turtle – Tao - considered as the symbol of the sub-district.
Wat Khao Wongkot (วัดเขาวงกต) The interesting point of this place is the bat cave on the shoulder of the mountain above the ubosot. It is considered as the largest bat cave in Lop Buri. Inside live millions of bats. This cave generates income into the temple from bat’s droppings of more than ten thousand baht a year.
Khao Wong Phrachan (เขาวงพระจันทร์) At the summit of Khao Wong Phrachan, visitors can see the panoramic scenery below. Khao Wong Phrachan is considered as the highest mountain of Lop Buri and is a place that has brought popularity to the province for a long time.
The Sunflower Field (ทุ่งทานตะวัน) Lop Buri is a province where people grow sunflowers the most in Thailand, around 200,000 – 300,000 rai. The sunflowers are usually in full bloom during November – January. Sunflower Fields: are scattered in Mueang District, Phatthana Nikhom District and Chai Badan District.
Wat Phrom Rangsi (วัดพรหมรังษี) This temple has an ubosot with four porches. The bell-shape chedi is similar to the Phra Borommathat – a chedi containing a Buddha’s relic - in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Other structures within the well-cared compound are also beautiful surrounded with abundant big and small trees.
Pa Sak Jolasid Dam (เขื่อนป่าสักชลสิทธิ์) It is the longest dam whose core is made of clay in Thailand, with the length of 4,860 metres and 36.50 metres high. The distinctive points of the dam are the sightseeing point on its ridge, Pa Sak River Basin Museum, presenting the knowledge of nature and culture.
Oasis Agro-Farm (โอเอซิสฟาร์ม) It is a full-cycle ostrich farm within a safari-like grass field at the foot of a mountain. Enjoy the activities such as feeding the ostriches and taking a close picture with them in the middle of the sunflower blossom field (during November – February every year)
Bee Farm (ศูนย์อนุรักษ์ผึ้ง) It is a training and knowledge centre on bees in Thailand.
Rian Thong Garden (สวนเหรียญทอง) is an agro-tourism farm, popular in the process of mango’s “entrust” grafting to multiply its productivity (20 mangoes a branch). Ban Pong Manao Site Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์เปิดบ้านโป่งมะนาว) It is a pre-historic archaeological site dated around 2,500 – 3,000 years or “the late Ban Chiang Period”. Thirteen ancient human skeletons were found within the same pit.
Namtok Wang Kan Lueang Arboretum (สวนรุกขชาติน้ำตกวังก้านเหลือง) This waterfall is full of water throughout the year due to the fact that its origin is a large natural underground spring in the east, 1.5 kilometres from the waterfall.
Khao Somphot Non-hunting Area (เขตห้ามล่าสัตว์ป่าเขาสมโภชน์) It is a high and steep limestone mountain range stretching along the southwestern direction, full of caves and cliffs. There are 2 plains in the valley and a plateau, with many spots of water seepage around the area, making it a significant watershed. The Khao Somphot Non-hunting Area consists of forest and wildlife in a perfect condition. Wat Pa Si Mahapho Wipatsana (วัดป่าศรีมหาโพธิ์วิปัสสนา) It is a meditation venue for Thais and foreigners. It is also a temple which cures ailments created by Luangpho Khong Chatamalo.
Chai Narai Farm (ไร่ชัยนารายณ์) is located in Chai Narai Sub-district. It is an ecotourism attraction, covering an area of 1,096 rai.
Prang Nang Phom Hom (ปรางค์นางผมหอม) It is a single brick prang with no cement covered, similar to Prang Khaek. From an archaeological excavation of this ancient remain in 1987, additional pieces of evidence found were sandstone fragments of the prang in the shape of a lady dressed up in the Bayon style of Khmer art.
Sap Langka Wildlife Sanctuary (เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าซับลังกา) The significance of the area is that it is in perfect condition and is the source of the Lam Sonthi River, as well as, the source of food for wildlife. At present, there are still goat antelopes which are preserved animals living in this sanctuary area.
Lopburi's Military Development
Lop Buri is a strategically important city of the country from the past. Therefore, it has been chosen as the second stronghold of the country since the Ayutthaya period. The military development of Lop Buri has clearly appeared during Field Marshall Plaek Pibulsongkram’s government. During that period, the military business of Lop Buri became the second most important matter after Bangkok. Activities within various departments of the military area are as follows:
Special Warfare Command (หน่วยบัญชาการสงครามพิเศษ) (Mueang District) are a demonstration of how to survive in the forest, a 34-foot tower jump, parachute from a balloon, shooting, cliff climbing, military jungle tour and the Special Force Museum, displaying photos, equipment, background, evolution and pictures of various activities of the Special Force from the start until the present time. Military Camp A03 (หารค่าย A03) in Mueang District, at the entrance of the Sap Lek Reservoir, Khok Tum Sub-district. It is a complex activity centre, testing the spirit and military way of living such as jumping from the 34-foot tower, artificial cliff climbing, shooting, rope bridge climbing and canoeing.
'Artillery Centre (ศูนย์การทหารปืนใหญ่), in Mueang District, are architecture created during the period of Field Marshall Plaek Pibulsongkram such as the Chato Building (Khao Nam Chon Command Headquarters), Pibulsongkram Building and Museum, Artillery Museum, the General Phraya Phahon Phonphayuhasena Museum, and the Botanical Garden. Military Circle 13 (มณฑลทหารบกที่ 13), in Mueang District, is the18-hole Field Marshall Plaek Pibulsongkram Golf Course open for the public.
Ananda Mahidol Hospital (โรงพยาบาลอานันทมหิดล), in Mueang District, is an exhibition hall displaying the biography of King Rama VIII at the Operation Building of the Ananda Mahidol Hospital. There are photos of the opening ceremony of the hospital on 6 January, 1938.
Khai Khem Din So Phong (Marl Salted Egg) (ไข่เค็มดินสอพอง) is a famous souvenir of Lop Buri. To produce this salted egg, a mixture of marl, water and salt is coated on an egg. The egg is preserved for a certain period of time. The egg is not too salty and can be cooked as Khai Wan - an egg poached in syrup, fried eggs, boiled eggs and other dishes. The most well-known dish cooked with this egg is stir fried salted egg with various spices, kaffir lime and string beans.
Metal Casting (Brass) (การหล่อโลหะ (ทองเหลือง)) is at Ban Tha Krayang Community. It is a gathering place of skilled brass founders whose occupation has been passed on for a long period of time. There are a cast of the brass Buddha images in various shapes and replicas of antiques. At present, there is a gathering as the Ban Tha Krayang Brass Founders Club. Khao Phra Ngam Diamond (เพชรเขาพระงาม) is the famous gemstone of Lop Buri. It is a kind of mineral called Hin Khiao Hanuman (quartz crystal). It is a kind of semi-precious stone with clear transparent crystals, while some are in various colours and have different patterns. It can be polished for jewellery, similarly to other gems but with more reasonable prices.
Khachonwit Mushroom Farm (ฟาร์มเห็ดขจรวิทย์) is the biggest mushroom growing promotion farm in Lop Buri, producing various kinds of nutritious mushrooms such as shiitake mushroom, termite mushroom, Sajor-caju mushroom, abalone mushroom, oyster mushroom, etc.
Mudmi Fabric Weaving Village (หมู่บ้านทอผ้ามัดหมี่) is a source of local tie-dyed fabric weaving in a unique design of the Thai Phuan people called Mudmi. At present, there has been a development of its patterns and colours to be more modern. It is considered as the weaving location of the best quality Mudmi fabric of the country. Som Fak (ส้มฟัก) is a type of preserved food. It is a combination of fish, salt, ground cooked rice and pickled garlic, kneaded into one texture and left to slightly ferment in a similar way as Naem (fermented pork in banana leaf). The fish used should have delicate white flesh such as Pla Krai - spotted feather back, Pla Salat - grey feather back, Pla Yi Sok - Jullien’s golden-price carp. The fermentation period is 3 days. It is eaten as a kind of savoury.
Pla Som (ปลาส้ม) is one of the famous kinds of preserved food made from Pla Tapian – barb - whose scales will be scraped off and its stomach cleaned. Then, salt is applied all over the fish, while cooked rice mixed with garlic is put into its stomach and left to ferment for quite some time. It will be fried before eating, creating a mouth-watering smell and a slightly sour taste.
Coconut Jelly (วุ้นน้ำมะพร้าว) is a well-known souvenir of Lop Buri, produced as a dessert to be eaten with ice. The jelly is produced by fermenting coconut juice with the acetic acid microbe similar to that used in the vinegar preserving process. In the fermentation process, white fungi will float on the surface and gradually assemble into a group of mushroom-like jelly, which will enlarge due to its fermentation period. This jelly is called “Coconut Juice Jelly Mushroom” or “Coconut Jelly”. Then, the jelly will be combined with various flavours of syrup and put into a bottle.
Sandstone Engraving Village (หมู่บ้านแกะสลักหินทราย) is where products are produced in nearly every house at Nong Laeng Village, Phaniat Sub-district, by using sandstone from the foot of the mountain. Many shapes are engraved into replicas of antiques, garden decoration materials, Buddha images, stone boundary markers and consecration marking balls for temples, etc.
Products from Corn Husk (ผลิตภัณฑ์จากเปลือกข้าวโพด) are produced in Phatthana Nikhom District, where a large amount of corn is planted. After the harvest, the corn husk will be dried in the sun, dyed with many colours and created as handicrafts in various styles such as flowers, dolls, key chains, etc.
Lop Buri Monkey Banquet (งานเลี้ยงโต๊ะจีนลิง) is organised on Sunday during the last week of November at San Phra Kan and Phra Prang Sam Yot where a large number of monkeys stay. Tourists who come to pay respect to Chaopho Phra Kan usually bring food and fruit for the monkeys, making them more tame and familiar with people. In this event, there are various activities such as party offering food in especially beautiful decoration for monkeys and local performances, etc.
Lop Buri Sunflower Blooming Festival (งานทุ่งทานตะวันบานที่ลพบุรี) takes place around December of every year because it is the period when the sunflowers are in full bloom. At present, Lop Buri possesses hundred of thousands of rai of sunflowers. Before the harvest, the sunflowers will create a yellow field, being another splendid tourist attraction of Lop Buri.
Kam Fa Tradition (ประเพณีกำฟ้า) is a local merit making tradition of the Thai Phuan people, taken place in many villages in Mueang District, and Ban Mi District. It is organised to request for a blessing from gods who protect the sky so that it will rain during the rainy season. The 2nd day of the waxing moon in the 3rd lunar month is considered the eve and the next day is the Kam Fa Day. In the morning, people will give alms with Khao Lam - glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk in bamboo, and Khao Chi - roasted glutinous rice, while in the afternoon, there will be local games such as Mon Son Pha, Chuang Chai, Ma Bia, and Ma Kan Han.
Sai Krachat Tradition (ประเพณีใส่กระจาด) or called Suea Krachat tradition or “Soe Krachat” in Phuan language is a tradition of the Thai Phuan people that has been conducted in Ban Mi District. It takes place during the sermon on the Great Birth story. It is mostly organised during the End of Buddhist Lent (the 11th month) in the waning moon period. One day prior to the Sai Krachat Day, people will wrap Khao Tom – seasoned sticky rice in banana leaf - and grind rice for the Khao Pun – rice noodle. The next day is the Sai Krachat Day when people will bring things such as bananas, sugar cane, oranges, candles and joss sticks or other items to put into the bamboo baskets at the houses of the people they know, while the hosts will bring the prepared food to welcome their guests. When the visitors would like to go home, the host will give Khao Tom Mat as a souvenir in return called “Khuen Krachat”. The next day will be the day of the Great Birth sermon. It is considered as a grand annual merit making event of the year.
Chak Phra Si An Tradition of Wat Lai or the Tradition of the Maitreya Bodhisattva Procession (ประเพณีชักพระศรีอาริย์ วัดไลย์ หรือประเพณีแห่พระศรีอาริย์) has been conducted for a long period of time on the 14th day of the waxing moon during the 6th lunar month every year. The temple will arrange the image of the Maitreya Bodhisattva to be enshrined on the Takhe – handcart - and let the people pull the image to the north. The starting point is Wat Lai to the end at Wat Thong Khung and back to Wat Lai. There are many people joining the procession. The procession will stop at some points for the faithful people to pour water onto and to pay respect to the image. There are also a dozen almshouses providing free food for the participants in the procession.