The Phimai Historical Park in the Nakhon Ratchasima region is an archaeological park that encompasses the remains of an ancient Khmer temple complex from the 11th and 12th centuries. Here you can explore fascinating temple ruins and immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Khmer civilization. The park also offers a variety of information centers and museums to learn more about its history and significance.
Phimai Historical Park facts, information and photos
For the region, the Phimai Historical Park is one of the most important historical sites, and the impressive Prasat Hin Phimai is considered one of the most significant Khmer temples in Thailand. However, you won’t find too many tourists on site and can usually enjoy the complex on your own. In addition, there are other places in the small town of Phimai to explore, which we will introduce to you subsequently.
How to get to Phimai
You can reach the Phimai Historical Park in several ways. One of the easiest and most convenient ways to visit the park is by private vehicle or rental car. From Bangkok, the journey takes about 4-5 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
Alternatively, you can also use public transportation, such as a bus or train. From Bangkok, there are regular bus services to Nakhon Ratchasima, from where you can take another bus or a taxi to the Phimai Historical Park. Traveling by train is another option. From Nakhon Ratchasima train station, you can also take a bus or a taxi to the park. Tickets for buses and trains can be found at our partner 12go.asia.
Another possibility is to take a day trip from, for example, Bangkok or Khon Kaen. If you want to travel with a guided tour, there are several providers that offer trips to the park. These tours usually include a pick-up service from your hotel in Bangkok or other cities, and often also include visits to other attractions in the area.
Accommodation in Nakhon Ratchasima – our hotel tip
Although there are accommodations right in Phimai, the small town doesn’t offer much apart from the attractions mentioned here. It is better to opt for a hotel in the provincial capital of Nakhon Ratchasima, also simply called Korat. This way, you can explore it as well.
The Srivichai Hotel is located right in the center of Nakhon Ratchasima – it’s just a few minutes walk to the famous Thao Suranari Monument. The rooms are clean and modern, equipped with air conditioning, Wifi, TV, refrigerator, seating, and private bathroom. There’s also parking available if you’re arriving by car.
You can find more hotels in Nakhon Ratchasima or in the surrounding areas like Phimai directly here.
Admission and opening hours of the Phimai Historical Park
The Phimai Historical Park in Thailand is open daily from 7.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. We recommend you visit the park during the early morning hours or late afternoon to avoid the hottest part of the day. In this way, you can explore the grounds in peace without being exposed to the direct sun in most parts.
The admission fee for the park is 100 Baht for tourists and also includes entry to the National Museum of the Phimai Historical Park, which houses a collection of artifacts from the Khmer era. Children under 12 years of age do not have to pay admission.
If you want to visit the park more often, you can even buy a day pass for 150 Baht. This allows you multiple entries throughout the day, for example, to take photos with different lighting conditions.
The history of Phimai Historical Park
The Phimai Historical Park is one of the most significant historical sites in Thailand and an outstanding example of Khmer architecture, which predominated in the region. It covers an area of about 102 hectares and its history dates back to the 11th century, when the Khmer conquered the area and established the kingdom of Angkor. Located within the park is the Phimai Temple, which was built in the 11th and 12th centuries and is dedicated to the god Shiva. The temple served as a central sanctuary in the Khmer kingdom and played an important role in religious ceremonies.
Over the centuries, the Phimai Historical Park underwent various changes. The temple was expanded and renovated by various rulers, making it one of the most magnificent examples of Khmer architecture in Thailand. In the 19th century, the temple was abandoned and gradually fell into disrepair. However, it was later restored and declared a national monument in 1962.
Today, the Phimai Historical Park is a popular destination for tourists who want to explore the historical significance of the region. Visitors can admire the richly decorated prangs and corridors of the Phimai Temple, adorned with impressive carvings and reliefs. The Phimai Historical Park is an important part of Thai history and culture. It recalls a time when the Khmer rulers dominated the region and shaped its architecture and art.
Tour of the Phimai Historical Park
Once you’ve paid the admission at the ticket office and moved a bit further, you’ll already see two ruins that you can visit. On the left is the Phlab Phla Pleuang Khreung. Built in the 12th century, it is said that the king and his entourage prepared here for ceremonies.
Straight ahead, you come to the Naga Bridge, which leads to the main temple of Phimai. Also built in the 12th century, it essentially represents the connection between the human and the divine. This comes from both Buddhism and Hinduism.
After that, you go through the outer wall, also called Kamphaeng Kaew. These are arched gates and corridors that then lead you to the three Prangs, i.e. the main temple of Phimai, and even as you go through these, it strongly reminds us of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
As soon as you leave the corridors, you enter the so-called Passageway, which already provides a fantastic view of the main temple with its Prangs and is a good photo location. During our visit, there were no other visitors here and we could take a lot of time to soak up the atmosphere and take photos.
Now you’re essentially at the end of Phimai Historical Park, if you’re in the main temple. Behind it there are a few more walls and passages, but then the site is over. The main Prang was built around the 11th century and the two on either side (Prang Hin Daeng and Prang Brahmatat) in the 12th century. Built from different styles with sandstone and decorated with Buddhist figures, they really stand out architecturally. In the middle of the main Prang, there is a white seated Buddha.
If you’re interested in further information on site, you’ll find a small plaque with info and a QR code to listen to it at each building.
Phimai National Museum
The National Museum of Phimai, located in close proximity to the Phimai Historical Park, houses an impressive collection of artifacts from the Khmer era. The museum was established in 1964 and has been expanded and renovated multiple times over the years. It consists of several galleries and exhibition spaces that display a wide variety of objects, including sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, and weapons. Many of the exhibits originate from the temples of the Phimai Historical Park, providing insights into the rich history and culture of the Khmer civilization.
Highlights of the museum include a large sandstone sculpture of the Hindu god Shiva, which is dated back to the late Angkor era, as well as a collection of Buddhist artifacts that date back to the reign of the Khmer king Jayavarman VII. Additionally, the museum offers multimedia presentations and audio guides to provide visitors with an even deeper understanding of the exhibits and their significance.
If you want to gain more insights into Khmer culture and Phimai, the museum is a must-visit. It is open daily from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and the entrance fee is 100 Baht. If you visit it on the same day as the Phimai Historical Park, the admission is even free with the ticket.
About 4 kilometers away from the Phimai Historical Park lies Sai Ngam. The picturesque forest takes its name from the many large and majestic Banyan trees, which are found in the area and are referred to as “Sai Ngam” by the locals.
The Sai Ngam forest is known for its unusually large and old trees, which can be up to 350 years old and reach a height of up to 40 meters. Many of these have a circumference of more than 10 meters, offering shade and protection from the sun. The area around Sai Ngam is rich in flora and fauna, including numerous species of birds, monkeys, and other wildlife.
There are several hiking trails running through the forest, allowing you as a visitor to view the trees up close and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the forest. There’s also a lake near the forest where visitors can fish or have a picnic. So, if you are seeking nature and tranquility, you should not miss Sai Ngam.
If you’re staying overnight in Phimai, you should definitely visit the night market in the evening. It’s a popular destination for both tourists and locals. The market is located in the center of town and is open every Saturday night. It offers a plethora of food stalls and vendors selling everything from local crafts to freshly prepared meals.
The atmosphere at the market is lively and welcoming, with a variety of colors, scents, and sounds that engage the senses. As a visitor, you can sample a wide selection of Thai dishes, including local Thai specialties such as Som Tam, grilled chicken, and Pad Thai. There’s also a variety of desserts and beverages, like fresh fruit, smoothies, and Thai iced tea.
In addition to the food, the market also offers a wide range of arts and crafts and souvenirs sold by local artisans and traders. Some of the most popular items include traditional Thai clothing, handmade jewelry, and decorative items. So, if you’re looking for an authentic Thai experience, you should definitely visit the Phimai night market.
Have you been to Phimai Historical Park? Would it be an interesting place for you to visit? Write us a comment below.
Photos: Photo 11 (Sai Ngam): Sakcared/shutterstock.com
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