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Every year, thousands of people make trips from Thailand to Cambodia only to see the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat with their own eyes. However, few people know that in Thailand there is also a very beautiful and ancient complex Phimai Historical Park, which has an appearance similar to Angkor Wat and is an excellent example of Khmer architecture of the 11th century. On this page you will find information about the Thai “analog” of Angkor Wat in Cambodia: location, transport, cost of entrance tickets and opening hours. Also, for clarity, my video from the Phimai Historical Park temple complex will be added to the page (this is how the ancient temple complex in Thailand is officially called).
Who might be interested in visiting Phimai Historical Park
A trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a very popular excursion from Thailand. This excursion to the neighboring country is very interesting, usually takes several days, while it is expensive and a bit tedious. This is due to the long distance, the need to obtain a Cambodian visa at the border, a change of transport, etc. And for citizens of those countries who also need a visa to visit Thailand, the costs increase even more due to the need to pay for the re-entry permit stamp in Thailand or to issue a double entry visa. Therefore, a visit to the temple complex Phimai Historical Park in Thailand is a good alternative to a trip to Cambodia.
First of all, we are talking about big savings, because Phimai Historical Park is located in Thailand and you do not have to pay for a visa to a neighboring country. In addition, transportation within Thailand is several times cheaper than a trip to Cambodia. Yes, tickets to Phimai Historical Park are very cheap – 12 times cheaper than tickets to Angkor Wat. Of course, many, in any case, will want to see exactly the ancient Cambodian temples, try the “happy pizza” in Cambodia, etc. But if you are just bored with a vacation in Pattaya, there is a good opportunity to diversify your vacation and visit Phimai Historical Park in Isan – the northeast region of Thailand.
Location of Phimai Historical Park
The ancient temple complex Phimai Historical Park is located in the city of Phimai, which in turn is located in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima. This Thai province is the “gateway” to the large agricultural region – Isan, which differs significantly from the rest of Thailand with its cuisine, architecture and culture (other folk costumes, Isan dialect of Thai, etc.). Residents of northeastern provinces even differ from residents of central, northern, and southern Thailand with even darker skin. Therefore, a trip here to some extent is a trip to “another Thailand”. Virtually the entire Isan region is located on the Korat Plateau and have area more larger than England and Wales combined.
The center of the province of Nakhonratchasima (Nakhon Ratchasima) is the city of the same name, which was previously called Korat. By the way, this province is home to the Korat cat breed. These green-eyed cats with gray-blue fur symbolize wealth and success. Therefore, they are given to newlyweds and used in religious ceremonies by Buddhist monks. The distance from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima is 260 km, and from Pattaya – a little more than 320 km. The cost of a trip by minibus from Bangkok is 250 THB, and the journey time is only 3 hours. The schedule can be viewed at the link Bangkok – Nakhon Ratchasima (cheap buses at the bottom of the search results). Minibuses from Pattaya also cost 250 baht, and the journey time is 4 hours by minibus or 5 hours by a large intercity bus.
Phimai Town, which houses the Phimai Historical Park temple complex, is located about 60 km from Nakhon Ratchasima. Therefore, you should further use local transport from the bus terminal or use a taxi. Also, you can always rent a car in Thailand or rent a motorbike online. Personally, my friend and I used a motorbike to visit Phimai Historical Park, the journey time from Nakhon Ratchasima was about 1.5 hours. The roads in Thailand are very good, especially since most of the way to the city of Phimai runs along the one of largest highway in Thailand (road number 2), which connects Bangkok with Laos and runs through the entire north-eastern part of the country.
Above on the page is added a map with the route we traveled to Phimai Historical Park from Nakhon Ratchasima. As you can see, the path runs along the road number 2 (about 50 km) and another 10 km should be taken along the road number 206. The route is not difficult and difficult to get lost. Especially if you use Google Maps or other navigator. Of course, as always on the roads of Thailand, be careful, especially when you ride a motorbike near the trucks (it is important not to get into the “blind zone” of the truck driver. You should go backwards in the reverse order. During the way you have the opportunity to see rice fields where famous Jasmine rice is grown, which is exported from Thailand to many countries of the world.
Opening hours and ticket prices at Phimai Historical Park
Since the temple complex is open daily from 07:00 am to 6:00 pm, you can not worry too much about the fact that Phimai Historical Park can be closed during daylight hours. The exceptions are some national holidays in Thailand, when the opening hours of park can be limited. The entrance fee to the park is 100 THB per person (just over 3 USD or just over 2.5 Euro). If you visit Phimai Historical Park with a resident of Thailand, then you will have to pay only 20 THB for the entrance ticket. Near the entrance to the historical park there is a small parking. There is not much space, but you can park your motorbike without any problems. In this case, parking is free.
My review of Phimai Historical Park
Immediately, I note that I really liked this ancient temple complex. A trip to the city of Phimai was one of the most vivid impressions of my visit to the province of Nakhon Ratchasima. Among the advantages of this historic park can be noted a small number of visitors. This allows you to see all the temple buildings and the park in relative silence. A very interesting fact: during three days in the city of Nakhonratchasima, I saw only three foreigners and it was on my last evening there, at the bus terminal. But in the Phimai Historical Park there were more foreigners. There were both independent tourists and a small group of tour guides. I think that a temple complex with more zeal of local authorities may be interested in a much larger number of foreigners, most of whom are not even aware of this city.
If we talk about the state of the temple complex, then I have mixed impressions. It is evident that the Thais have already done a lot of work to restore the temples, but to give the buildings their original appearance will never work. At the same time, the complex of temples is very interesting for inspection. Personally, I was impressed by the symmetry with which temples and walls were built around them. The central tower, symbolizing the sacred Mount Meru in the center of the universe, is also well preserved. But the side towers are preserved worse, but one of them still gives an idea of how the temple looked during the years of construction.
The entrances and exits to most temples are strictly on one line, so you can walk from the beginning to the end of the temple complex in a straight line. But if you are a lover of architecture, you can explore the side corridors of the temples too. Inside the temples you will not find a large number of statues or other decorative ornaments. But carved columns and decorative stone carving are present. In general, each of the temples is similar to the next in size and architecture. Laterite (base) and sandstone (exterior) served as the main building materials for the temples. At the same time in the construction used sandstone of various kinds. While walking around the temples you can see that red sandstone is partially used. And the main sanctuary, in which there is a statue of the Buddha, is made of white sandstone.
On the territory of the temple complex Phimai Historical Park there are ponds and benches, beautiful trees and lawns. At the same time, beauty and order are everywhere; there was no rubbish during my visit. Below on the page a short video about my visit to the historical park at the end of November is added. The video starts from the moment you arrive at the temple complex, but if someone wants to see the way to Phimai Historical Park from Nakhon Ratchasima, you can play the video from the beginning.
At the end of this review, I want to note the fact that my friend and I had 1 hour to explore the temples. At the same time, about half an hour we just sat on the territory (first we ate fruit on the lawn under the tree, and at the end we just relaxed on the bench before returning to Nakhon Ratchasima. Phimai Historical Park is a very interesting place to visit, and if you have free time during rest time in Thailand, and the beaches or nightlife have already bored you a little, I advise you to visit the province of Nakhon Ratchasima and see with your own eyes an amazing and ancient temple complex – Phimai Historical Park. Enjoy your trip!
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