Buriram is a small city in Isan, the mainly rural northeastern region of Thailand, which is the largest, most populous and least visited in the country. Many of the street vendors and tuk tuk/taxi drivers in Bangkok come from this poorer part of Thailand, and some of the most famous Thai dishes, like papaya salad, come from here as well. Unless you are a very serious slow traveler, a short stay of 1 or 2 nights is sufficient to enjoy the main highlights in the area. The main tourist attraction in the province are the ruins of 1,000-year-old Phanom Rung, the most important Khmer temple complex in Thailand, and we strongly recommend also visiting the nearby Prasat Hin Meuang Tam, another exceptional ancient Khmer temple. If you’re in Buriram on a weekend, be sure to attend a soccer match at the Buriram FC stadium, the most modern in the country, and enjoying the laidback provincial atmosphere on Walking Street -weekend’s night market-. Buriram is visited by very few foreigners, so while strolling around don’t be surprised if you notice a lot of curious local glances on you, or even if some locals -especially students- strike a friendly interrogation in English and end up asking for the mandatory selfie. Certainly the much hyped “Land of smiles” slogan is not that true in many tourist spots in Thailand, but rest assured that in non touristy Buriram you’ll get tons of warm smiles. With a poor public transport system, getting around Buriram province can be a headache if you don’t have your own vehicle, so the best option may be to rent a car or motorcycle in the city, since there is not much traffic and the roads are good.
ℹ️ Top Things to Do in Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park
Both Buriram and its nearby provinces (Sisaket, Nakhon Ratchasima, Surin, etc.), were part of the huge Khmer Empire (9th – 15th centuries), and today thet preserve important ruins from that era. Phanom Rung is the largest, best restored and most important Khmer temple complex in Thailand. It was built between the 10th and 13th centuries AD, most of it in the time of the great Khmer king Suriyavarman II (12th century), who built the greatest Khmer temple of all time: Angkor Wat. Phanom Rung was a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva built on the summit of a spent volcano, and some of its more outstanding aspects are the promenade leading to the main gate, a long processional walkway flanked by sandstone pillars with lotus-bud tops, three bridges flanked by many five-headed naga -mythical serpents-, the central temple and its main tower. Many lintels and pediments show exquisitely crafted sculptures and carvings, depicting many gods from Hindu mythology, especially Shiva and Vishnu.
Prasat Hin Meuang Tam
Prasat Hin Meuang Tam receives far fewer tourists than its famous neighbour, Phanom Rung, but although it’s smaller and the location is not as beautiful, it’s just as interesting and we highly recommend a visit. In fact, it’s considered to be the third most important Khmer temple in Thailand, only behind Phanom Rung and Phimai. Prasat Hin Meuang Tam was built during the 10th and 11th centuries AD, and it was dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu. It should be remembered that the Hindu religion was the official state religion in the early centuries of the Khmer Empire, and only later it changed to Buddhism. The inner sanctuary consists of five sandstone towers on a platform -the central one has collapsed-, and a library building where Hindu scriptures were kept. The layout of this temple is different from any other, both for the disposition of its five towers and for the L-shaped ponds that ring the central area, outlined by five-headed naga serpents.
Buriram FC Stadium & Chang International Circuit
Buriram’s most famous native son is Newin Chidchob, a wealthy and eccentric ex-politician and former Thai minister, involved in some corruption cases, who has furthered his goal of putting Buriram city on the map as an important part of the country. To achieve this, he first bought a Thai Premier League soccer team and made it one of the top 2 or 3 in the country. He built the best football stadium in the Thai national league, the modern New I-Mobile Stadium, with a capacity for 32,000 people that meets all FIFA requirements. But that was not enough for him, and next to the soccer stadium then he built the most important auto racing circuit in Thailand, Buriram United International Circuit, which also meets FIA standards, and therefore can host Formula 1 and Moto GP races.
Khao Kradong Forest Park
Khao Kradong Volcano Forest Park covers the area of an extinct volcano, 265 metres high above sea level, and it was formerly known as “Phanom Kradong” in Khmer language, meaning ‘turte shell’s mountain’, due to its shape. The most visited area in the park is found on the mountaintop, presided by the statue known as Phra Suphattharabophit, a large golden sitting Buddha in the posture of meditation. The large ground in front of the statue provides a viewpoint overlooking the city of Buriram. The several-hundred-thousands-year-old volcano’s crater nowadays forms a large pool of water that can be explored by walking around it, and there’s a suspension bridge that allows the visitor to get a bird’s-eye view. A cement staircase with 297 steps leads the way from the foot to the top of the mountain, but is possible to reach the mountaintop by vehicle as well. Every year on the full moon day of the 5th lunar month (usually in April) the Khao Kradong Festival is held here.
If you happen to be in Buriram city on the weekend, in addition to perhaps being able to watch a soccer match at Buriram FC stadium, you can also enjoy the popular night street market that’s set up on weekend’s evenings and is known as Walking Street, next to a wide water channel. Plenty of stalls sell the usual fare of clothing and food, and there’s a stage where local bands play live music to entertain the large crowds that gather here. When you have enough of wandering around, you can buy some street food from any of the stalls and sit on the matted area next to the water to enjoy dinner. Yes, we know, just like any other provincial night market in Thailand, but the best way to feel the local atmosphere, and even more in a non touristy city like Buriram. As fun as ever, so don’t miss out!
Wat Khao Angkhan
Wat Khao Angkhan is a little-visited small temple on top of an extinct volcano. Although originally dating back to the 8th or 9th century, in the Dvaravati era, the temple features buildings that mix various architectural styles: Dvaravati, Khmer, Chinese, Thai, and Sri Lankan. Most of what is currently standing was built in the 1980s and beyond, including an ordination room that mixes modern and classical Khmer style, an impressive 29-meter long golden reclining Buddha statue, a Chinese-style pagoda, rows of large seated Buddhas surrounding all complex, and beautiful views of the surrounding forest and the paddies below. If you feel like walking a bit, a forest trail leads downhill to the neraby village of Ban Khao. Wat Khao Angkhan is located about 10 km south of Highway 24 and about 20 km from either Phanom Rung and Nang Rong. To get there, you will need your own wheels, either by renting a car/motorcycle or by using a mototaxi, which should cost around THB 300 from Nang Rong. If you are not a big fan of temples, be aware that the roads leading here are quite bumpy.
🏨 Where to stay in Buriram
Out from the tourism circuit as it is, it’s no surprise that all accommodation options in Buriram town are rather geared towards national clients, but both in town and its surrounding area there are more than enough good value guest houses, hotels and resorts to meet the needs of all kind of travelers, from basic guesthouses to 4 star hotels. Many travellers decide to stay in Nang Rong town instead, just because it is much closer to Phanom Rung temple, the main tourist attraction in the province, although accommodation options are much more limited.
Best for: Travelers who want to combine Khmer ruins with an urban vibe
Accommodation available: Hostels and Hotels up to 4 stars
✔️ Livelier atmosphere.
✔️ Larger offer of services, including restaurants, bars and shops.
✔️ Some nightlife, and Walking Street on weekends.
✔️ Proximity to Khao Kradang Forest Park and Buriram FC Stadium.
Best for: Khmer architecture lovers
Accommodation available: Hostels and Hotels up to 4 star
✔️ Quiet area.
✔️ Proximity to Phanom Rung and Prasat Hin Meuang Tam khmer ruins.
✔️ Good value selection of hostels and hotels.
🧭 Itinerary to visit Buriram
Provided you have your own wheels, one full day is enough to explore the most outstanding sites near Buriram:
✈️ Arriving to Buriram
There are mainly 3 ways to go to Buriram:
🚌 By bus
Most common option
📍 From Bangkok’s Mochit Bus Terminal
➡️ From Bangkok’s Mo Chit (Northern Bus Terminal) there are departures from 08:00 to midnight, at least every 2 hours. Price between 200 and 350 THB depending on class. The trip takes five to six hours.
➡️ To reach Mo Chit bus terminal you can take the Skytrain until Mo Chit stop, and then a motorcycle taxi to the bus terminal (60-80 THB).
➡️ Buriram’s bus terminal is located in the west side of town, and a tuk tuk to/from downtown should cost around 50 THB, or 20 THB if you take a shared pink songthaew.
➡️ Nakhon Chai Air bus company is generally considered to be the most reliable option.
🚊 By train
For unhurried romantics
📍 From Bangkok
➡️ Buriram is a main stop in the Northeastern railway line, and the station is located downtown.
➡️ From Bangkok it takes about 7 hours, and there are 9 daily departures from between 05:45 and 22:50.
➡️ Prices go from 67 THB for a hard chair in 3d class and up to 1,120 THB for a bed in first class sleeper.
➡️ Starting at Bangkok, other main stops on this line are: Ayutthaya, Pak Chong (for Khao Yai National Park), Nakhon Ratchasima and Ubon Ratchathani (near lao border).
✈️ By plane
📍 From Bangkok
➡️ Buriram’s only flight connection is Bangkok’s Don Meuang airport (DMK). There’s at least one daily flight in both directions, and a maximum of four, operated by low cost airlines Nok Air and Thai Air Asia.
➡️ Buriram’s airport (BFV) is located 30 km north of town.