Phanom Rung National Park, Buriram

Sitting on top of the Phanom Rung hill at the elevation of around 400 metres above the sea level, stands a magnificent ancient Khmer temple dated back in the 10th-13th Century when Khmer Empire had its power stretched on most of the region is Southeast Asia.

Phanom Rung was said to be built in the middle of the roadway from Angkor Thom; the capital city of Khmer Empire in Cambodia, to Phimai in Thailand. The immensely beautiful structure was said to be dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, due to the discovery of Shiva linga in the middle of the main sanctuary of the monastery.

The Thailand’s Fine Art Department began the restoration process of the temple in 1971 until 1988. In 1988, Thailand officially announced it as a one of the historical parks in Thailand and opened it to the public.

How to Get to Phanom Rung Historical Park?

Phanom Rung Historical Park is located in the Isan (Northern East region of Thailand), in Buriram Province. The closest town to Phanom Rung Historical Park is Nang Rong and Prakhon Chai. A more famous option to stay among visitors is in Nang Rong.

From Bangkok to Phanom Rung Historical Park

Flight to Buriram Aiport will cost you another 1.5 to 2 hours driving distance to Nang Rong. Meanwhile, train from Bangkok to Buriram will take you another 1-hour driving distance to Nang Rong.

For these reason, the best option to go to Phanom Rung Historical Park is probably by bus or minivan directly to Nang Rong or Prakhon Chai from Mo Chit 2.

Bus from Bangkok to Buriram by Sawasdee Surin drop-off points are either in Nang Rong Bus Station or in Prakhon Chai Transport Station. Both locations are only around 30 minutes away from the historical park. The bus depart from Bangkok will depart from Bangkok Mochit Bus Terminal (Mochit 2). The trip duration is around 4.5-5 hours.

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From Nang Rong or Prakhon Chai, you can find a public transportation like taxi, songthaews or tuk tuk to get to Phanom Rung Historical Park. However, since the small town itself is not a tourist spot, finding one could be difficult.

Alternatively, you can try to rent a bike or a car from the locals.

Phanom Rung Historical Park Entrance Fee

The entrance fee for Phanom Rung Historical Park is 100 THB. You can buy the ticket at the site.

However, if you also plan to visit Mueng Tam (also known as Prasat Hin Muang Tam) located around 7 km from Phanom Rung, you can get a joint ticket at 150 THB. This way, you get to save 50 THB because the entrance fee to both temples is 100 THB each.

Highlights of Phanom Rung Historical Park

Unlike Sukhothai Historical Park or Ayutthaya Historical Park that have many sites to see; Phanom Rung Historical Park only have one massive historical site comprises of a number of structures in it. Nonetheless, the visitors often regard it as the greatest, most beautiful and most well-preserved of all the Khmer temples in Thailand.

It is more tranquil and less touristy in Phanom Rung Historical Park despite the beauty that it holds. This makes Phanom Rung a more tempting option to visit and experience going back to the ancient times.

There’s a lot to explore in Phanom Rung, especially if you’re a temple enthusiast or a seeker of ancient historical sites and their stories. In this post, however, we only list the highlights to be seen in Phanom Rung Historical Park. Below is the map of Phanom Rung Historical Park to be used as the guide:

Click on the picture for better view

Phanom Rung National Park Floor Plan

The Ceremonial Walkway of Phanom Rung Historical Park

The magic of Phanom Rung begins from the 160 m ceremonial walkway that one has to walk through to get to the temple. To get to the ceremonial walkway, one first has to climb up the Lower Stairway from the ticket counter and pass by a cruciform platform.

As you stand on the cruciform platform, to your right there is pathway down to a ruin named the Phlab Phla, or the Hall of the White Elephant. Phlab Phla was said to be the dressing room for the royals before they walk down the ceremonial walkway for any religious ceremony.

The Naga Bridge

At the end of the Ceremonial Walkway, you will find the first Naga Bridge. The Naga Bridge is decorated with 5 heads Nagas on each side of the bridge. You will also find a lotus-shaped carving on the floor in the middle of the platform.

The second Naga Bridge you will find after you climb up the Upper Stairway and pass by the four ponds in front of the monastery. Meanwhile, the third Naga Bridge will be found once you enter the east gopura (entrance gateway), connecting the Inner Gallery to the Antechamber.

The Naga Bridge is said to be representing a link between the world of the men and the world of the Gods. When devotee pass the Naga bridge, they are supposed to be reminded that they are to leave the earth physically and spiritually, and entering a higher level of enlightenment.

The Ponds

There are four ponds in front of Phanom Rung. These ponds represent the oceans around mount Meru. This kind of structure can be seen in many other Khmer temples like in Angkor Wat and the neighbor temple of Phanom Rung; the Mueng Tam Temple.

The Antechamber and the Main Sanctuary

The first structure you will see once you pass the East Gateway is the Antechamber. The Antechamber is a part of the Main Sanctuary, which was built at the center of the Phanom Rung monastery.

Inside the Antechamber, contains the Shiva linga and his ride, named Nandi the bull. Going further west is the Main Sanctuary of Phanom Rung. Main Sanctuary of Phanom Rung can be recognized by its ever so great prang on top of the structure.

Prang Noi

Prang Noi is a structure built to the south-west of the main sanctuary. The structure of Prang Noi predated the Main Sanctuary. It was believed to be built in the 11th Century. Unfortunately, Prang Noi has lost its Prang. Prang Noi only have one entrance that faces to the east. The carving decorations on Prang Noi are floral design with little man in the middle of the lintels.

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