Three hours away or so from Bangkok (depending on your mode of transport) lies a place quite unlike any other. For all the travelling I've done, it was the first time anyone has ever brought me on a secret day trip. And what a day trip it was.
Sea of yellow, emerald and gold
Have you ever seen anything quite like this? Like a field of gold, it was a sight to behold - these hundreds of thousands of sunflowers in magnificent bloom. As the vehicle we hired neared the main sunflower fields, the rolling fields on both sides became a blur of yellow, emerald and gold. It was like watching magic before my eyes that nature had conjured.
It was such a beautiful photo backdrop and a photographer's dream (we were helplessly trigger happy). The best part for me though, was walking through the splendid fields of gorgeous flowers, slowly, deliberately, just being there. To feel the vastness of beauty. To admire the beauty nature brings. See, these flowers are in season from November to January, so there's still time if you're headed for Bangkok in the next few weeks (scroll to the end for directions).
Assorted Khmer ruins
And that is not all! Lop Buri is also home to fascinating Khmer ruins and hoards of roaming, stray monkeys. For all purposes I felt like I had stumbled into a zoo enclosure filled with monkeys. Except I wasn't in a zoo, I was in an actual, functioning city. Unbelievable.
Beware of inquisitive monkeys
That said, these monkeys tended to gather at the ruins, as they must have gathered that these were hotspots for gullible human beings (read: tourists) keen to buy little packets of feed for them. I was far more interested in the ruins and staying out of their way. Alright I'll confess that monkeys in large numbers intimidate me - I practically screamed when one of the monkeys jumped for my hand.
Conveniently enough, these ruins (which closes at 6pm) are all scattered within walking distance from the train station. My only regret was not setting off earlier and giving ourselves more time to finish exploring this one-of-a-kind city.
Getting to Lop Buri from Bangkok
Trains heading from Bangkok to Lop Buri leave throughout the day, roughly every hour between 5 am - 9 pm. Rapid and express trains between Lop Buri and Bangkok take about three hours, while ordinary trains take about 4½ hours. Express train tickets could cost as much as 350 baht, while ordinary trains cost just 28 baht.
From Bangkok, air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses that leave from the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) every 20 minutes between 5.30 am and 8.30 pm. The journey takes three hours and costs 110 baht.
Bangkok to Lop Buri is a two hour drive either along Highway No.1 via Saraburi (total distance of 153 kilometers) or Highway No. 32 to Ayutthaya and then along Highway No. 347 to Lop Buri via Tha Ruea District.
Getting to the Sunflower Fields from Lop Buri
Depending on how well you bargain, a roundtrip to the sunflower fields could cost anything between 700-1,500 baht.
Lop Buri Train station to Lop Buri Bus Terminal
1. From Lop Buri train station, turn right towards Phra Kan roundabout. At the roundabout, turn right, and you should see a bus stop opposite the road. Take any bus from the bus stop for 8 baht and inform the conductor you wish to stop near the bus terminal.
2. Alight the bus just before the next roundabout and take the pedestrian bridge to cross the road. The Lop Buri bus terminal is a five minutes walk from the bridge.
Lop Buri Bus Terminal to Sunflower Fields
3. At Lop Buri bus terminal, take the local bus (green, platform 20) for 15 baht and inform the conductor that you are headed for the sunflower fields (would be useful to show a picture).
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