What to do in Phimai?

May 19, 2013

About 70 km North-East from Nakhon Ratchasima is Phimai, a place where many tourists go to every year but where I have never been. Not until recently at least. Not too long ago I finally found the time to go to Phimai to see why all those tourists come all the way to Nakhon Ratchasima.

How to get from Nakhon Ratchasima to Phimai? Even though the map shows the way back, I can assure you that getting there is  just as easy.

How to get from Nakhon Ratchasima to Phimai? Even though the map shows the way back, I can assure you that getting there is just as easy.

The 70 km is easily made by car since you only have to drive about 60km to the North-East of Nakhon Ratchasima after which you make a turn to the right and keep driving till you enter a city. Apparently it is even possible to reach Phimai by public transport but it seemed like a rather cumbersome and long trip that way.

How to reach Phimai

How to reach Phimai.

Phimai is best known for its duck and the historical park. The structures in the historical park are built in a similar style as the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia, it is only much smaller in Phimai and much less crowded. When arriving by car it is easy to find the park entrance in the middle of the city center and parking is free in the mini-parking lot in front of the park. The entrance is not free though and as a foreigner you are charged 5 times the rate they charge Thais (100 baht versus 20 baht).

The entrance to the Phimai historical park

The entrance to the Phimai historical park

Buy your tickets to the Phimai historical park here. Foreigners pay 100 baht, Thais 20 baht.

Buy your tickets to the Phimai historical park here. Foreigners pay 100 baht, Thais 20 baht.

When entering the historical park you will quickly notice that it is all well maintained and nicely set up with signs what everything is and a free map, including explanations of the site, which you can pick up in the small building on your right after entering the site. It was bloody hot that day though so I would recommend you to bring an umbrella to survive without sunstroke and pack some extra water.

The view when you just enter the historical park.

The view when you just enter the historical park.

Old ruins at Phimai historical park.

Old ruins at Phimai historical park.

While we were there on a Sunday it was never busy and you could easily make a picture of a structure without an annoying group of tourists visible in your picture; try to do that at Angkor Wat.  The whole historical park is not as large as we expected and it took about an hour to get through it completely including posing for many, many pictures at every spot.

The only tour group we saw wondering around on a Sunday before noon.

The only tour group we saw wondering around on a Sunday before noon.

Well-maintained, quiet, and sunny. A perfect place to wind down.

Well-maintained, quiet, and sunny. A perfect place to wind down.

Next stop would be the famous Banyan tree; a strange looking site a few kilometers away from the historical park. I am not sure if this is just one huge ass tree or several trees grown together, but it looked nice to take a walk there. There was no entrance fee charged but all together it is not that big after all and including taking some pictures we were done in about 5 minutes.

Square: Phimai historical park Circle: Banyan tree park Arrow: Phimai roasted duck restaurant. Aloy.

Square: Phimai historical park
Circle: Banyan tree park
Arrow: Phimai roasted duck restaurant. Aloy.

Entrance to the Banyan tree park in Phimai.

Entrance to the Banyan tree park in Phimai.

Of course there are stalls to sell food and drinks there, and there was even a stall selling fish, turtles, and other water animals that you could buy to set free. Each animal represented luck in a different field so it was pretty hard to choose which animal to set free; do we want more money, better health, or more wisdom? We ended up with a combination bag of 50 baht which took away the hard part of making a choice.

Free the fish and become lucky. It was too hard to pick the right fish for the righ kind of luck, so we settled for a mixed assortment of animals.

Free the fish and become lucky. It was too hard to pick the right fish for the right kind of luck, so we settled for a mixed assortment of animals.

After lunch we were pretty tired of all the walking around so we skipped the historical museum and went straight for the other thing Phimai is famous for: duck.

Phimai famous duck being roasted before your eyes.

Phimai famous duck being roasted before your eyes.

One of the more famous duck places (maybe it is “THE” duck place to be) is located right next the road leading into Phimai making it a perfect stop at the end of the day. When arriving we immediately felt sorry we already had lunch since the duck place had a large restaurant also which looked pretty decent.

Phimai famous duck. The restaurant also looked really good here.

Phimai famous duck. The restaurant also looked really good here.

With 2 roasted ducks on the backseat we returned to Nakhon Ratchasima to relax the rest of the Sunday. All together Phimai is a nice spot to visit if you are in the neighborhood, but I would not recommend people to make the drive from Bangkok to Phimai for the historical park alone. 

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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