The town of Phimai in Nakhon Ratchasima province has an historical park that contains an extremely important Khmer temple, Prasat Hin Phimai. In ancient times there was a highway from Angkor in Cambodia and this temple represents the western end. It is comparable in size to Angkor Wat and hence must have been an extremely important place in the Khmer Empire. The buildings originate in the period, late 11th early 12th Century and despite the fact that the Khmer were Hindu it was built as a Buddhist temple.
There was a good deal of restoration done in the 1960s and the Historical Park opened in 1989. It is in North East Thailand and those interested in history and archaeology on holiday in Thailand should always head here. This Thailand travel guide will provide more detail for those who have not heard about this wonderful place before. Those on Indochina tour packages will certainly be visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia as well.
How to get there
The nearest modern Thai town is Nakhonratchasima (more commonly known as Korat) which is four hours from Bangkok by bus. The train meets no traffic jams but has plenty of stops en route so is no quicker.
The flights from Bangkok were just half an hour but the service has now been suspended. The Government is planning instead a high speed train to China stopping at Korat. It will take two hours once it is available.
Best time to visit
Temperatures are around 30C all year round with the monsoon rains coming between May and October. Tourism numbers and Thailand travel packages are available all year round with the advantage of the rainy season being fewer numbers.
Things to see and do
Khmer temples were supposed to represent the universe with the main building intended to be Mount Meru which is the holy mountain of Hindus.
The Royal Fine Arts Department has been responsible for a great deal of work on the site. It consists of three enclosures, each rectangular with the outer temple wall actually being the outer wall of the city, half a kilometres by a kilometre.
Prang Hin Daeng is a stone tower made of red sandstone while the main sanctuary is white sandstone. There is a meditating Buddha and statues from the Buddhist scriptures of animals and demons.
The courtyard was rebuilt and around it there is a small gallery with Buddhist inscriptions that predate Angkor.
The main gate into the city is huge and has been reconstructed; it is large enough for an elephant to pass through.
There is plenty of accommodation in Korat. It is a growing town that still has few Western visitors though as Prasat Hin Phimai becomes better known that is likely to change. There are no real luxury hotels and resorts but any number around 3 Star standard. Those on organised tours will be given some choices when they book their holiday and arrangements will be in place on arrival.