If you’re planning a visit to Lopburi, the chances are you’re probably going to see the infamous monkey gangs that roam the streets. It is clear that the resident macaques rule the city; you’ll see them hanging from power lines, sunbathing on cars and pickpocketing bystanders. Whilst the monkeys are undoubtedly the city’s main draw for tourists, the locals do not have such an easy time living alongside them. There are bars on most windows and traffic is often halted to allow troops of monkeys to pass. Despite the nuisance that they pose, locals believe that feeding them brings good fortune and there is a monkey banquet held at Prang Sam Yot temple annually. This could explain why the temple is one of their favourite haunts.
Getting up close to the Lopburi monkeys can be a great experience but it is important to remember you are interacting with wild animals. Here are a few tips for surviving the monkey madness:
Consider what to wear
Avoid sunglasses, hats or jewellery as the monkeys will try to pinch whatever they can. If you have long hair it is also important that you consider what you are going to do with it. I would recommend a simple ponytail as it doesn’t give the monkeys too much to play with. A group of monkeys nearly scalped me as they attempted to free my mane from a bun atop my head. Simple is definitely better when it comes to hair!
Secure all of your belongings
Make use of internal pockets and those with zips. The macaques have pesky little fingers which will find their way into even the smallest of gaps so it’s important to keep your valuables out of sight (if you really must bring them at all).
Don’t carry food or drink
They don’t care if it is not part of their normal diet, they will steal it. During my visit to Prang Sam Yot, I actually saw a monkey steal a can of Coke from another visitor, crack it open and glug it straight down!
Remove monkeys by spinning
As you walk around the temple monkeys will jump on you. This can be quite fun when it is a couple of baby ones but very quickly you could find yourself mobbed. If you feel overwhelmed, spin around quickly and they should jump off. Do not try to move them as they can become aggressive.
Keep expensive items safe
Cameras and mobile phones are one of the monkeys favourite items to steal so keep these firmly in pockets or use any wrist/neck straps provided. You don’t want to lose all of your travel photos to a bunch of macaques!
Don’t make eye contact
This can be interpreted as a threat and could result in a full on monkey confrontation!
They are wild animals
It is crucial to remember that whilst these monkeys are familiar with people, they are by no means tame. It is likely you will get scratched as they jump on you and if you are very unlucky you could even be bitten.
Be sensible and plan ahead
To anyone considering visiting the Lopburi monkeys, I would urge you to get a full course of rabies injections before travelling. Most visits are trouble-free but if you are unlucky enough to be bitten and the skin is broken, scrub the wound hard with soap and water before seeking medical assistance. Always do your research when it comes to staying healthy whilst you travel.
Have you been to Lopburi? What are your monkey stories?
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