Prasat Hin Phimai – Korat , In this review, I will step away from the familiar areas that are frequently visited by tourists, and head to Isan – the northeastern region of Thailand, which is the biggest yet least visited region. Specifically, I’d like to cover a unique site titled Prasat Hin Phimai, one of the most significant temples to the Khmer people.
Phimai is a small, serene town sitting on the banks of Moon river. It is situated roughly an hour’s drive away from Nakhon Ratchasima, which is also known by its abbreviation – Khorat, the capital of the Nakhon Ratchasima Province. Khorat is the second biggest city in Isan, and one of the biggest cities in Thailand. It is located 260 kilometers north-east of Bangkok, and marks the entrance to Isan, which is the biggest region in the country.
1000 years ago, The Khmer Empire, the predecessor state to modern Cambodia, has covered territories that nowadays pertain to Thailand. The Khmer people used to establish many temples like Angkor Wat. On this website, you’ll find an article about one of the most prominent temples (among those located in Thailand) which is situated at Buriram.
In the accompanying picture, you can see the temples’ dispersal in the regions near Cambodia. This article will review Prasat Hin Phimai – one of the Khmer temples in Thailand. While it is smaller than Angkor Wat, it is beautifully preserved and certainly worth a visit.
Some 800 years ago, the city of Phimai was one of the most prominent cities in the mighty kingdom of the Khmer empire. The city was located at the end of the main road, which connected it Angkor Wat. As an integral part of the kingdom, Phimai was continuously visited by crowds of pilgrims and merchants.
Nowadays, Phimai is a small, quiet town. It is located some 50 km. from Khorat. Despite its humble size and serene nature, Phimai is home to a fascinating historic site; in its very center, you’ll find Phimai Historical Park (or Prasat Hin Phimai).
Despite the obvious similarity to Angkor Wat structure, the Phimai temple is Buddhist, as opposed to the other temples, which were dedicated to Hindu deities. Different parts were built earlier than Angkor Wat, which is of course located in Cambodia. The Phimai temple is crowned by a wall; one of its sides is 1 km. long and the other one stretches along half a kilometer or so. While Angkor Wat resides on a man-made mountain, the Phimai temple is situated on a flat surface and its location enables to easily explore it and conveniently review the relics of this fascinating, ancient culture. Across the road you’ll find a nice little museum where you can see many findings that were revealed on site.
Importantly, the place is beautiful and wonderfully preserved, so if you are in the area – be sure to include a visit to Prasat Hin Phimai among your tour plans. You can get there easily by driving an hour or so from the city of Khorat. If you’re interested in spending a night in this lovely small town, you can stay in one of its hotels or guesthouses. You can also rent a bike to explore the town and visit Sai Ngam – the biggest Banyan tree in the world, which is located some 2 km. away.
Opening Hours: every day of the week from 7 AM to 5 PM. It is recommended to visit the temple during the morning or late noon hours, when the softer light brings out the structure’s beautiful warm colors.
*You can see additional temple pictures in the clip/presentation at the end of the article.
Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat)
We cannot possibly conclude this article without referring to one of the biggest, most famous cities in Thailand – Khorat (or in its full name Nakhon Ratchasima). As previously mentioned, it is located 260 kilometers away from Bangkok, and marks the entrance to the biggest region in the country – Isan. Not farther away, you’ll find a beautiful zoo (one of the most impressive ones in Thailand), and the famous, ancient nature reserve – Khao Yai, is located some 100 km. away.
At the center of the Khorat, stands an eminent statue of one of the most prominent, admired women in Thai history – Thao Suranaree, who is often called by the Thai people Ya Mo or Lady Mo. In 1827, when the district officials were absent as they were visiting Bangkok, soldiers from Laos attacked the city of Khorat, captured its residents and intended to banish them. Khun Ying Mo, who was then the wife of the vice governor, a smart, brave woman by her own merits, utilized her wit and triggered a retaliation attack; Khorat residents fought back against Laos soldiers and ultimately made them run away.
Ya Mo’s statue, which was set in 1934, draws many Thai people who consider themselves as her grandchildren (Ya= grandmother). And the place is packed with crowds of Thai people, during almost every hour of the day, as they come to pay their respects to the courageous heroine.
** You can see additional pictures of Khorat in the following clip/presentation