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Tracing the Khmer Ancient Splendours: An Expedition to Nakhon Ratchasima and Buriram Provinces

The Khorat Plateau occupies most of Northeast Thailand. It is a broad stretch of barren and arid hills about 300 metres above sea level and is separated from the Central Plains by The Phetchabun mountains on the west. Much of the region is characterised by its red earth and scrub forest. Khorat city is regarded as the gateway to the Northeast.

The Siam Society under the leadership of Professor Emeritus Dr Momrajawongse Suriyavudh Sukhasvasti, has arranged a study trip to visit a museum, archaeological sites, and Khmer-style temples in Nakhon Ratchasima and Buriram Provinces from Saturday, 20 to Sunday, 21 July 2024.


Saturday, 20 to Sunday, 21 July 2024


Professor Emeritus Dr Momrajawongse Suriyavudh Sukhasvasti


The tentative programme will be as follows:

Saturday, 20 July 2024: Bangkok – Nakhon Ratchasima
Meet at The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Road, Sukhumvit 21, Bangkok.
07:30 Depart The Siam Society for Khorat by bus (3 hr 30 min drive)
Enroute: Visit an archaeological site at Wat Thammachak Semaram in Ban Khlong Khwang, where there is a colossal reclining Buddha image made of pink sandstone. There are also numerous sandstone “baisema” and the exceptionally fine Dvaravati Wheel of the Law, which was discovered in Ban Hin Tang.
Visit the ruins of the ancient Khmer city found in the early 10th century at Prasat Non Ku and Prasat Muang Khaek.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant
Afternoon: Visit Phimai National Museum. This museum contains a notable collection of Khmer art from all over northeast Thailand and beyond. There are numerous important freestanding sandstone sculptures in the museum, including a superb female torso from Prasat Phimai, which is thought to be of Jayarajadevi, the first wife of Jayavarman VII.
Visit Phimai Historical Park. Like many other Khmer monuments in Thailand, Prasat Phimai was originally built as a Hindu temple and was later converted to a Mahayana Buddhist sanctuary, probably by Jayavarman VII. Whereas most Khmer temples, whether Hindu or Buddhist, face east towards the rising sun, Phimai faces the Khmer capital of Angkor in the south, to which it was linked by a great road that ran northwest to Lopburi via Nakhon Ratchasima. It has been suggested that Jayavarman VI may have founded Prasat Phimai in honour of his ancestors and therefore have chosen to orient the temple towards the south as this is the direction associated with the worship of the ancestors. The principal sanctuary of the temple enclosure was built from white sandstone and consists of a prang with a long narrow antarala and mandapa. Prasat Phimai has a great number of carved lintels from the 11th century and 12th century, pediments, antefixes, pilasters, and colonettes, some of which are still in superb condition. They portray not only stories from the Hindu epics and Hindu deities such as Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna and Rama but also depict the Buddha and other Buddhism-related subjects. The temple has also yielded numerous free-standing Buddha images, a Footprint of the Buddha, and several important inscriptions.
Depart Phimai district for Nakhon Ratchasima, then check in at Centara Korat.
Evening: Dinner and overnight at the hotel
Sunday, 21 July 2024: Nakhon Ratchasima – Buriram – Bangkok
Breakfast at the hotel
08:00 Depart to Nang Rong district, Buriram
Morning: Visit Phanom Rung Historical Park. Prasat Phanom Rung is one of the most important Khmer sanctuaries in Thailand and one of the few to have retained its original Khmer name. Standing on the summit of an extinct volcano 383 metres above sea level, the site commands an extensive view over a vast and fertile plain bordered to the south by the Dangrek Mountains. There are ruined sanctuaries on two neighbouring hills, Khao Plai Bat and Khao Angkhan, which are also extinct volcanoes.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant






Visit Prasat Muang Tam (Temple of the City Below). Muang Tam is only 5 kilometres away from Prasat Phanom Rung. Muang Tam or Lower City probably dates back to the second half of the 10th century. Although its setting is much less picturesque, its plan, its importance, and the fine preservation of its reliefs, still make this place fascinating. The temple is like a vast rectangle enclosed with a laterite wall topped with a strong rim which is still in good condition almost throughout. In the centre of the temple complex, there is a row of three brick prangs with two further prangs behind them to the west. The five towers, four of which have been reconstructed, all stand on a single laterite platform. The northwest prang has an important lintel showing Shiva seated on the bull Nandi with his consort Uma on his knee. There are four L-shaped pools in the temple enclosure. On the north of the temple, there is a large barai or reservoir which dates back to the same period and still contains water. It has kept its sluice gates and a laterite terrace which can be seen in the northwest corner. Nearby, the ruins covered in the scrub of Prasat Kuti Russi or Hermit’s cell can also be seen.
Depart back to Bangkok (5 hr drive)
Enroute: Stop at the gas station to buy a light meal (at your own arrangement)
22:30 Arrive at The Siam Society

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary.

Important notes:

– The Siam Society may utilise photos taken from study trips, lectures, performances, and other activities as part of its public relations and marketing communication campaign. These photos, which may sometimes contain image(s) of activity participants, can also be featured on The Society’s website and other online social media channels.


The contribution of THB 12,000 (THB 13,000 for non-member), Single room surcharge of THB 1,000 will cover transportation, meals as mentioned in the programme, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. In addition, basic travel insurance is included. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the payment has been madeThere is a 3% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. Please pay by cash or cheque payable to “The Siam Society”. Transfer can also be made to The Siam Society travel account at TMBThanachart Bank (ttb), saving account no. 053-2-18000-7 or by scanning the QR code below. Once payment has been made, please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.


For further information and bookings please contact Khun Thun at 02-661-6470-3 ext. 205 or The Society office is open from 09:00 to 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday.

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