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Cycling Khorat to Surin
Visiting Phimai, Phanom Rung and Muang Tam


The journey takes at least 3-4 days. The first leg is about 60km and brings you to the beautiful temple complex and national park: Phimai, a visit I recommend as much as a visit to for example Ayutthaya or Sukothai. The journey starts with leaving Nakhon Ratchathani. There are two ways to Phimai, 60 km away, see here the details.

The second day will bring you to Buri Ram. It's an uninspiring 105km bikeride and it doesn't help Buri Ram is just as uninspiring. It took me even a while before I found out where the hotels were.

Buri Ram

The third day will lead south to Prakhon Chay, a nice and quiet road. From here it's another 20 km to Phanom Rung. This is how I did it the second time I visited, the first time I came from Aranyaprathet.

In 2013 I made a roundtrip by following the road back to Khorat for about 16km. There is a junction that leads directly to Phanom Rung (8km). The last 2 km are climbing up the hill which was an extinct volcano which has been dormant for 900.000 years.

You can cycle back by first visiting Muang Tam and than following the road leading east to Prakhon Chai (slightly shorter). It's not a short day with almost 170km so it's worth to spend a night at Phanom Rung. If the resort is too expensive, just camp out and buy food in the nearby town.

Phanom Rung
Hoover your mouse over the photos of Phanom Rung to get a better view

Phanom Rung Phanom Rung Phanom Rung Angkor Cambodia
Phanom Rung Angkor Cambodia Phanom Rung View from Phanom Rung

Phanom Rung

The complex was build in the 11th and 12th century. It is a Hindu complex dedicated to the Indian god Shiva that (imho) rivals some of the best Khmer temples in Angkor.

The craters of the volcano on which the complex is build were used by the Khmers to build water reservoirs.

The construction of the temple can be divided in 4 phases: Koh Ker, Angkor Wat, Bapoun and Bayon.

Eastern wall of Phanom Rung
The eastern wall as I saw it in 2001

Although the temple originally was build as a Shiva Hindu complex, during the 4th (Bayon style) phase it was converted into a Buddhist complex. This was because Jayavarman VII (1181 - ca. 1220 AD) was a devote Buddhist. He added so called libraries to the complex (which show the Bayon style).

Entry to the park is as usual, B100. There are small stalls at the car park.

Muang Tam

8 km from Phanom Rung is Muang Tam. You have to cycle down a few km to the main road. There's a junction to Muang Tam. A few km further you will pass an artificial lake with the complex build next to it.

Muang Tam reservoir

The complex is slightly older than Phanom Rung (10th-11th century) but is also dedicated to Shiva. It has a main sanctuary and two libraries. The plan of the complex is quite large but the buildings themselves are not that extensive. Nevertheless, it would be a shame to be here, visit Phanom Rung and skip Muang Tam. It is certainly worth it.

Muang Tam reservoir

The road to Surin

Have you stayed at Phanom Rung, it will be the next leg, otherwise it will be another tiring 60km to Surin. Alternat9ive it might be an easier job to make it a day trip from Buri Ram.

For going to Surin, I recommend to cycle back to Prakhon Chai and take the road to Buri Ram (219). Just after the main junction you will find a junction which leads directly to Surin (Charak Yai). It's an almost empty road. Once you're back on the 226, it's another 12 or so km to Surin.

Surin

Surin

The city is famous for the annual elephant roundup. This is also the time you really NEED to book your hotel in advance, otherwise there's no need. Although the city is hardly of any further interest, you will everywhere signs of the elephant roundup. And just north of the city, there is an elephant training center.

In the city there is a small new temple build in Khmer style. It gives you an idea what the temple ruins might have looked like in the days of the Khmer empire.

Surin

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