Wonders of Lop Buri combine Thai history, sunflowers and natural attractions
Lop Buri’s wonders are on display year-round, but its sunflower fields are ablaze in yellow from December to January of each year. Already a highly popular domestic travel destination, Lop Buri is part of Thailand’s 55 secondary destinations identified by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for its unique local Thai experiences.
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Lop Buri is known for its rich history, but these days might be just as famous for its annual sunflower festival and natural wonders. Having said that, its place in Thai history is undeniable. Its heyday dates back to the reign of King Narai the Great of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, who made Lop Buri his second capital. The King spent much of each year there partly for security reasons, and his prosperous reign (1656-1688) saw international trade thrive in the Thai Kingdom.
Lop Buri province is also famous for the monkeys that live among the people in the city, but there are a few other things to do in Lop Buri that shouldn’t be missed. One of them is visiting the sunflower fields.
Fields of tall, bright, yellow flowers reach out to the backdrop of mountains and dramatic limestone karsts. It is an outstanding social photo opportunity that makes it very popular with younger travellers. The best time to visit Lop Buri’s sunflower fields is between November and February when the sunflowers are in full bloom. If you head there in December, you are likely to see them when they are at their tallest. The biggest and most popular one in Lop Buri is Khao Chin Lae Sunflower Field. Alternatively, there are also sunflower pastures in neighbouring Saraburi province for those that want to twin Lop Buri with neighbouring destinations.
Other nearby attractions are also well worth a visit. These include the Khao Som Phot Wildlife Sanctuary, which covers 33,760 acres with prominent Bronze Age and Rattanakosin period archaeological sites and nature trails to explore the area. And Wang Kan Lueang Waterfall is the only waterfall in Lop Buri province with clear stream water that runs blue-green like emerald all year regardless of the season. That’s because the Wang Kan Lueang Arboretum is fed from a large natural underground spring 1.5 kilometres east of the Waterfall making it perfect for those who seek a quiet and refreshing retreat from town.
Man-made attractions, like Pa Sak Jolasid Dam, also offer local Thai experiences. If you have never ridden a Thai train, the trip to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam is a good one.
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) operated a ‘special holiday’ train service from Bangkok to Pa Sak Jolasid Dam in Lop Buri during 2018 and 2019 from mid-November to end of January the following year. Future information about the annual status is available from the SRT’s Call Centre 1690. It features stops for passengers in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Kaeng Khoi, Kaeng Sua Ten and the Rotfai Loi Nam ‘floating railway’ Viewpoint at the Dam’s entrance.
Culture vultures will love the ancient temples of Lop Buri. Wat Dharmikarama (Bat Temple), tucked into the western bank of the Bang Kam River, is steeped in local history but no longer is home to the bats. Wat Kawisraram Ratchaworawiharn is one of the oldest and most important temples in the province that legend has it that the temple was built by King Narai the Great.
Alterantively, temple ruins at Wat Nakhon Kosa shows the layering of multiple cultural histories in Lop Buri. Its oldest remnant is a ruined chedi from the Dvaravati Era dating back to between the 6th to the 13th centuries. Wat Choeng Tha is another restored temple ruin and UNESCO-listed site that offers guided commentary about its unique history.
Clearly, there is a lot to love about Lop Buri, and two nights is a perfect amount of time to see it all. International visitors might not find anything fancy here, but that’s part of its charm. What they will enjoy is an easily accessible glance at a simpler way of life in Thailand.