Lopburi Monkey Temple equals Monkeys! What’s not to love about catching a train out of Bangkok, seeing new sights and visiting macaques monkeys? Who doesn’t love monkeys???
Traveling to the Monkey Temple
Traveling to Lopburi Monkey Temple is actually pretty darn easy from anywhere in Bangkok. We hopped on a series of local Bangkok trains and made our way to Hua Lamphong Station.
After we arrived at the Hua Lamphong Station we purchased our tickets for an express train to Lopburi. The expected train ride duration was about two hours. I could feel a pleasant state of relaxation settle over me as I listed to tunes and watched the scenery outside the window.
Why visit a Monkey temple?
Seeking a temple experience that was different than our normal temple experiences thus far in Thailand, we decided to make a day trip to the Lopburi Monkey Temple. The town of Lopburi is located several hours outside of Bangkok via train. We were actually somewhat close to Lopburi, but didn’t realize it, when we visited Ayutthaya. The temples we’ve visited so far (Wat Pho, The Grand Palace, Suthat) are each spectacular in their own way, but the Lopburi Monkey Temple just looked different and a little bit unusual. Sign us up! (I’m still seeking my Japanese soaking tub with a boiled egg, but that’s a different post!)
The train ride to Lopburi Monkey temple was about two hours in duration, almost exactly what the ticket indicated. When we’re traveling in foreign countries I typically assume the trains are going to “roughly” on schedule. This train ride was exactly on schedule. When we exited the train station in Lopburi we weren’t really sure what to expect. We found a very small town! We wandered across the street from the train station and explored the Wat Phrasri Rattana Mahathat.
Locating the Lopburi Monkey temple
It wasn’t difficult to locate the monkey temple after we left Wat-Phrasi Rattana Mahathat. It’s at the center of the town. We walked a few short blocks from the Wat and ran directly into the Lopburi Monkey Temple. It was odd to wander the streets of Lopburi due to the lack of tourists. The Corona Virus had dramatically reduced the number of tourists. While we were in Bangkok it was less obvious, but here in Lopburi, it was clear that many merchant shops were simply closed due to lack of tourist business.
Entering the Lopburi Monkey temple compound
We arrived at the gate of the Lopburi Monkey temple and paid a nominal fee for entrance. We were warned to remove our glasses, pocket any loose items and to keep our cameras close to our bodies. If the monkey’s jumped on us, we were advised to spin in a rapid circle to shake the monkeys off. Noelle was given a stick to swat the monkeys if they came too close to us.
It’s a little unnerving how many monkeys were wandering around the temple complex. The air reeked of urine. Some monkeys seem pretty relaxed. Other monkeys seem to watch our every movement. I think the fact that our research and the staff at the temple site warning us about aggressive monkeys had us slightly on edge.
The rules of the road-What’s your favorite?
Entering the Monkey temple
The temples structure, or presence itself, was somewhat disappointing. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it!
The temple wasn’t as nearly as large as other temples we’ve visited, and the area itself was a bit run down. We waited for the monkeys not be near the temples entry/exit door, and then we quickly entered. We’d been warned that we needed to make sure the entry way was clear of monkeys before entering/exiting so that the monkeys didn’t dart into the temple.
Inside the temple all the windows have metal cages covering the entire window opening. We stared at the monkeys. The monkeys stared at us. It was amazing to be so close to the monkeys…and a little unnerving too. Some of the monkeys seemed intent on joining us inside the temple. Most seemed indifferent to our presence.
Exiting the Monkey temple
Outside the temple we wandered in a slow circle around the temple grounds. Noelle kept watch over us with the switch while I took pictures. I could hear the switch slicing through the air as Noelle make practice stabs and slices in the air. I wasn’t sure if I should be excited or nervous.
The monkeys kept a disinterested distance from us of about five feet/1.5m. We kept our eyes on the monkeys, worried that they were going to jump on us at any moment to shake us down for our credit cards and cash.
Dash for treats
We couldn’t help but notice that suddenly the monkeys were flowing away from the temple and towards the street. It wasn’t a mad rush, but suddenly the monkeys seemed very focused on “something”.
We were surprised to see that someone had stopped their car near the front of the temple and were tossing out wax treats to the monkeys. It was a little crazy to behold. What about rule number one???
The larger monkeys snagged the lions share of the treats. The smaller monkeys also picked up a few treats, but, the bigger monkeys certainly seemed to rule to roost. We’re not monkey experts though, so we could have it all wrong!
Time to say goodbye
After watching the monkeys chow down on the wax treats we decided to call it a wrap on the temple and explore the town a bit. We wandered across the town square and ate lunch with the locals and school children.
A quick meal of morning glory, chicken and rice, plus tea, cost around $1USD per person. While we were eating lunch monkeys were running across the roof of the outdoor area where we were seated. It was a little unnerving. We’ve been around monkeys before on our travels, and usually the monkeys seemed pretty relaxed, perhaps even a little cutesy to earn “treats” from the tourists. These monkeys didn’t seem so happy.
As it turned out, the monkeys weren’t happy at all. Not one tiny bit.
Tribal monkey wars
Seems like a bold heading huh? Read on friends!
We took a quick gander at the train schedule after lunch and discovered that we could catch a 2:30 train with a 5PM Bangkok arrival, or we could catch a later train, with more stops, and arrive in Bangkok around 8PM. With the Monkey Temple tour completed, there really wasn’t much else to “do” in town, so we opted to catch the earlier train.
With the sharp decline in tourist activities due to tourism, the monkeys aren’t receiving the same amount of food every day. The monkeys aren’t happy. In this picture a local resident had dumped fresh fruit out for the monkeys to eat.
So what happens when the monkeys aren’t receiving enough food and start acting hangry? Bad things! As we learned (later), the monkeys in Lopburi have divided the town into two different tribal “zones”. The two tribes went to war. One tribe controls the temple grounds and another tribe controls the city center area. The tribes squared off and went to war over food.
It’s crazy, the far reaching consequences of the COVID virus. The locals are bemoaning the plight of the city as the macaques population continues to increase. The city has become more aggressive in their sterilization efforts, but the monkeys now recognize the clothing that the sterilization employees wear and actively avoid known “sterilization” humans. It’s tricky for the town; the monkeys lure in tourists (like us!), but the monkeys are tearing up the town while the tourists (like us!) are locked down in different countries.
Anyway, it’s interesting reading!
Heading back to Bangkok
We caught the train back to Bangkok from Lopburi without incident. It was quite nice to again just sit and watch the sights out the window. I enjoyed the t-shirt vending machine in the Hua Lamphong Station. Mind you I didn’t buy a t-shirt, but if I wanted one, and I was a much smaller fellow, I’d jump right on it!
Should you visit Lopburi Monkey temple?
In every location that we visit on our travels there are primary, secondary and tertiary sights or experiences that we want to explore. I think that I’d definitely recommend carving out an afternoon to visit for the Monkey Temple. I’d rate it as secondary experience, but only after visiting all the major attractions in Bangkok. One of the reasons it was so enjoyable for us was that we had already knocked off so many other temple visits in Bangkok, so it didn’t feel too silly to carve out time for a lessor know adventure.
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