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Bangkok Travelbug January 10 Sunflowers of Lopburi
December 30, 2009

Sunflowers of Lopburi

Happy New Year! Welcome back to the first issue of Bangkok Travelbug for 2010. We take a trip to Lopburi just north of Bangkok to admire the beautiful sunflowers for which the province is famous.

Contents (click on the link to go directly to the topic)

Events in January

  • 1 January – New Year’s Day

  • 9 January – Children’s Day (second Saturday of January)

  • 16 January – Teachers’ Day

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History of Lopburi

Lopburi in Central Thailand is 150 km north of Bangkok. It has a long and rich history. Relics of the Bronze Age, 2,000 years ago found in Lopburi are evidence of early life in the area.

Sometime in the 6th C AD, a Buddhist civilization called Dvaravati, established itself in central and north-eastern Thailand with its centre in Lopburi.

Between the 11th and 12th C AD, the Angkor Empire, in present day Cambodia, spread it influence to north-eastern Thailand. The outer fringe of the empire reached Lopburi and Suphanburi. Lopburi became a province of Angkor and was ruled by governors appointed by the Angkor kings.

As Angkor power declined in the mid 13th C, Lopburi was able to shake free of Angkor dominance. When King Ramkhamhaeng ascended the throne in Sukhothai in 1279, the city emerged as the new centre of influence in the region. But with his death in 1298, the empire disintegrated.

A new centre of power emerged, Ayutthaya in the Lopburi area. Lopburi and Suphanburi remained centres of power as their rulers, often related to the rulers of Ayutthaya, took turns to provide the kings for Ayutthaya.

King Narai of Ayutthaya (1656 – 1688), built his summer palace in Lopburi. The palace is still there. Lopburi’s influence peaked in the reign of King Narai and lasted till his death in 1688.

Besides its rich history and culture, Lopburi has two relatively new cultural attractions; the monkey festival in the last weekend of November when monkeys are fed with tons of fruit to bring good luck and the sunflower fields.

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Sunflowers of Lopburi

The inspiration

Back in 2003 or 2004 during my early years living in Thailand, a Thai friend sent me a picture taken during a visit to a field of bright yellow sunflowers. This was how I described that scene then.

"A profusion of bright yellow flowers covered the field on that radiant day under a clear blue sky. In the middle of the field stood a petite woman almost submerged in a sea of huge yellow blossoms.

But she stood out nonetheless in her bright red blouse, white skirt and dazzling smile. Behind the field of flowers the lush, green hills gazed silently down on the bright fields and the woman below."

Later I found out that these flowers were from a province called Lopburi. All I knew of Lopburi then was that it is the home of the Royal Thai Army Special Forces.

I told myself I must visit this place and write about it. That image stayed in my mind and the promise was only fulfilled in November 2009. I wasn’t disappointed. It was exactly like that photo I saw in 2004.

The journey

Early on the morning of 17 November 2009, I finally set off for Lopburi. The tour bus took me through Saraburi province past a famous religious landmark where the Buddha is believed to have left his footprint.

In the reign of King Song Tham of Ayutthaya (1610 – 1628), a hunter in Saraburi came across a large footprint on a rock face. On closer examination by the authorities it was concluded that this was the footprint of the Buddha. The area was declared a shrine and a temple, Wat Phra Buddhabat, was built in 1624 to house the footprint.

Beyond the temple are green hills of bamboo clumps where the flute makers of Ban Lao get their material for their flutes. This old Bangkok community of ethnic Lao has lived in Thonburi across the Chao Phraya River from Bangkok for more than 200 years.

When I finally got to the sunflowers of Lopburi, the view was breath-taking.

Sunflower fields at Soi Wat Weluwan

Sunflowers are also found in Saraburi, Petchabun and Tak. But somehow the sunflowers of Lopburi just have that special allure. Here’s why.

Fields of bright yellow

I just walked down the soi admiring the bright yellow fields on both sides and snapping these photos as I went along.

In full bloom, some of the sunflowers are about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. They grow as tall as 5 feet (1.5 m) or more. I could almost get lost among the stalks.

Close up of the sunflowers

The sunflower season is from November – early March during the cool months of the year.

The sunflower fields in Lopburi can found in Amphur Mueang (city district) and Phattana Nikhom district, both of which are in southern Lopburi province bordering Saraburi.

Profusion of yellow flowers

As it was a weekday, the only other visitors in the fields were a young couple who came with me on the bus from Bangkok. I saw them again as I was strolling around. We waved and smiled at each other, total strangers, yet finding a common bond among these flowers.

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How to get there and back

Take a tour bus from Mor Chit in Bangkok to Lopburi. The fare is 99 baht. When I got on board I found out that I didn’t need to go all the way to Lopburi city.

The bus conductor told me to get off at the Nikhom Sang Ton Eng junction just before reaching the city.

Nikhom Sang Ton Eng junction

The road on the right leads to the sunflower fields. Take a provincial bus to Soi Wat Weluwan. Fare is 12 baht.

Soi Wat Weluwan junction, please note that there are no signs in English here

As I was not driving, this place which was recommended to me by the provincial bus conductor is just by the main road. Of course there are other fields but they are deeper in.

The sunflower fields in Soi Wat Weluwan stretch all the way in for more than 800 m.

At this hut near the junction you can stop for refreshments on your way back. The beef ball noodles are delicious. You can’t get them for 20 baht a bowl in Bangkok!

Take a break here

My parting shot

To return, take the provincial bus back to the Nikhom Sang Ton Eng junction. At the junction, go to the sala outside the police station where you can catch the Lopburi – Bangkok bus back to Mor Chit. The fare is 95 baht.

Bus stop at the police station


As this was my first time in Lopburi, I wasn’t sure how to get to the sunflowers. I only had a vague idea from what I read. I must thank the people in Lopburi for being so helpful, for literally guiding me from the main road to the sunflowers fields. Even fellow passengers on the provincial bus offered their advice.

Lasting image of Lopburi

"A profusion of bright yellow flowers covered the field on that radiant day under a clear blue sky. Behind the field of flowers the lush, green hills gazed silently down on the bright fields below."

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Next month

The treasures of Nonthaburi. See you then.

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