The Monkey Temple of Lopburi, Thailand

When we arrived in Lopburi, there were monkeys everywhere. They sat on the railroad tracks, huddled atop walls and ran across streets. It was a monkey frenzy. If I were the screaming type, I would have done it right then and there.

Monkey Share at Lopburi

They look cute. Our guide told us monkeys have no discipline. Remove anything shiny and hide your food.

Sunglasses, jewelry, and dangling things are irresistible. Monkeys are curious. They’ll jump on your back or your pack in a moment.

Monkey Tails at LopburiInside, the temple was dark. I didn’t pay much attention to it. I saw a drop of moisture fall from the ceiling as we walked out the front door. It wasn’t raining or humid. It was pee. I was certain there were critters up above, but I couldn’t see any. Later, I’d learn both bats and rats call this temple home.

Most of the Excitement Was Outside

Howe had a monkey on his arm as he fed it a banana and another on his shoulder. Pat had two monkeys atop her head. When the third hopped on, she’d had enough. One pulled at her long, dark hair, attracted to her barrette.

Monkey looks into the CameraAnother grabbed the end of Howe’s lens. Oh, hold mine, too! That would make such a good photo. The poor thing was a little peeved as I jerked away when two monkeys jumped on my back. I forgot I wore a sparkly barrette that day.

We loved every minute of it, except for that close touching on my part. I didn’t want monkey germs. Taisa got bit, but it didn’t break the skin.

Here’s the kind of monkey business we saw on the day we visited. Notice the monkey hygiene. Monkeys are not known for their hand washing.

What I Didn’t Know Before We Went

How to Avoid Monkey Bites and Attack

Read about avoiding monkey bites and attack if you plan to visit. Those sweet little monkeys can quickly change moods.

  1. Avoid smiling at them. Showing teeth is a sign of threat and aggression.
  2. Don’t play tug of war. Let go of something as soon as a monkey grabs it. Chances are they will examine it and drop it.
  3. Don’t offer food. Food offered to one and not to another might cause that other to attack.
  4. Don’t show fear. Monkeys follow a well established caste system.
  5. Be careful taking pictures. A monkey seeing its own reflection in your lens might trigger an attack.
Monkey Eating PhotoHow to Avoid Disease

Staying healthy is important. If you’d rather throw caution to the wind, skip this section and read about the annual monkey party below.  This article from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sites the Monkey Temple at Lopburi to be a high-risk source for cross-species transmission of infectious agents, monkey-to-man. Yeah, ack! Monkey germs. After all, we’ve got similar genetic, physiological and behavioral characteristics. Be wise. Stay safe.

  • Avoid monkey bodily fluids: saliva, nasal secretions and feces.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth—the portals of disease transmission—during or after monkey encounters.
  • Bites and scratches are another way primate fluids can enter your system – wash or soak the site for 15 to 20 minutes with warm soapy water if either of these occur. This requires medical attention. See a doctor who will probably start antibiotics.
  • Wash your hands with warm soapy water after your visit and before eating or drinking anything.

If your wound is major, it becomes infected or you feel ill, see a doctor. Have your physician call NCEZID, National Center for Emerging Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at 800-232-6348 24hr/day 7 days/week. Read more about monkey diseases here.

How to Get There

The Monkey Temple is a part of the itinerary for the SmarTours Amazing Thailand tour and is also reachable by train. I wouldn’t visit here as a sole destination, but if you’re passing through and haven’t seen monkeys, you’ll see them here. The stop is short. You can check the times and cost of a train ticket here.

The Annual Monkey Festival

Mom and Baby Monkey at LopburiThe town has an annual monkey festival the last weekend of November where a banquet is put out to honor the monkeys that bring prosperity to the town. Buffet tables are laid out with peanuts, cabbage, watermelon, bananas, pumpkin, pineapple, boiled eggs and cucumbers. Locals donate food for the event with the belief that it will bring them good fortune. The festivities are centered around the Monkey Temple located north of the train station.

Phra Prang Sam Yot (The Monkey Temple), originally a Hindu shrine, has three spires (prangs) that represent Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (the Hindu trinity). It was later converted to a Buddhist shrine.

What’s your experience with monkeys on vacation?

image and video credits: A Lot of Monkey Business ©2014 Marie LaForce

Marie LaForce About Marie LaForce

Writer | Photographer | Explorer |Dreamer | Intentional Disciple of Christ


  1. that’s great, Marie! I thought a few of the monkeys’ faces actually looked human.
    The son of an old friend was about 17 when bitten by a monkey on a trip to Mexico with another family. I guess it involved rabies shots and leaving vacation early! Odd to think they can be so “cute” but dangerous at the same time.

    • I was most concerned about avoiding a monkey bite for the sake of rabies while I was there. It was only by accident that I discovered so many other diseases that could be transmitted between people and monkeys. This is my PSA on the fun and the safety of monkey business. I agree they look quite human so we tend to think of them like us. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. I wonder if our guide knows monkeys that do have discipline.

  3. Cheryl, Mom, and Dad says:

    Showed mom & dad this one and your first one. We liked watching the video. It was better the 2nd time we watched it with the sound.! 🙂
    Personally, not a big fan of the monkey. I’m waiting for the one on the elephants and mom is waiting for the one on the Water Buffalo! 🙂

    • Ha! Ha! Sound helps. I had monkeys on my head twice there. It surprised me both times!
      The water buffalo will be included with the Rice farmers. I am saving the elephants for a few posts down the road, but it will be coming. Thanks for what I consider as requests. Let’s see what I come up with for next week…

  4. Marie, Great coverage of Lopburi. In my future travels, even though I managed not to catch anything from these adorable creatures, I will keep my human distance. Keep up the great work with these blog postings. It brings it all back so vividly.

  5. Loved your monkey story and it reminded me of our experience with monkeys. Many years ago we went to visit Longleat in England that as part of the extensive grounds had a fenced in wild animal area you could drive through. So the gatekeeper let us in and didn’t give us any warning. We looked at the various animals and all of a sudden a monkey jumped on the hood of our car. We stopped because we were afraid he would fall off and get hurt. Within minutes the car was covered with monkeys. We honked the horn to try to make them leave. And then I did a dumb thing – I turned on the wind shield wipers to scare them. Well, they loved them, grabbed them, pulled on them. Then one started to unravel the rubber thing that holds the windshielf in and got about three feet of it pulled out. We edged away and finally got back to the gate. The gatekeeper took one look at our car and said, “My, they are feisty today.” We then looked at the area where our car was as we tried to put back in the rubber molding and there were all sorts of bits and pieces of various cars – a rear view mirror, etc., etc., Lesson learned – monkeys are not just cute.

    Jan Del calzo

  6. Hi Marie:

    You have managed to get some great photos. Thanks for sharing your pictures and the time to write about the trip! Hope you are staying warmer than we are in IL…..

    • Thanks, Marcia. I’m looking forward to sharing our cooking adventure and a few recipies.
      As for the warmth, we are wrapped up in many layers. The Polar Vortex has come into town.

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