Ancient Khmer temples and kiln sites

Phanom Rung Khmer temple in Buriram
Phanom Rung Khmer sanctuary

Buriram is a province in the lower part of Isan, the North East of Thailand. The mostly rural province with capital Buriram town borders Cambodia. Several sites from the Dvaravati and Khmer era remain of Buriram’s rich history. The area was under control of the Khmer empire for several centuries. The Khmer build roads connecting the various parts of their empire as well as a great number of temples. Buriram’s provincial seal depicts the province’s most important Khmer temple, Phanom Rung.

To do & see in Buriram

Buriram houses many historical, cultural and natural sites worth a visit.

Khmer ruins

Across Buriram province are the ruins of a number of ancient Khmer temples. Today they remain in various states of preservation; some have been restored to reflect their original glory while little more than a pile of laterite blocks remains of others.

Phanom Rung

Phanom Rung, one of the largest and most significant of all Khmer temples in Thailand, is located on top of an extinct volcano. The temple was build between the 10th and 13th century on the ancient route from the Khmer capital Angkor Thom to Phimai, the site of another large Khmer temple further West in Nakhon Ratchasima. A 160 meter long processional walkway leads to the impressive central sanctuary. As the main sanctuary was constructed out of pink sandstone, Phanom Rung is also known as “stone castle”. Phanom Rung has been restored by the Thai Fine Arts Department. The monument has been submitted to UNESCO’s tentative list for consideration as a future World Heritage Site.

Muang Tum

Muang Tum is located on the foot of the hill, on top of which is Phanom Rung temple. Build about a thousand years ago, Phanom Rung is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The inner sanctuary consists of five sandstone towers standing on a platform and a library building where Hindu scriptures were kept. The largest, central tower has collapsed. The temple has been restored by the Thai Fine Arts Department.

Ancient Khmer era kiln sites

Around the 9th or 10th century the Khmer produced ceramic wares in kilns at several sites in Buriram province. The sites have been excavated by the Thai Fine Arts Department. At Nai Chian kiln site and Sawai kiln site located a few kilometers apart in Ban Kruan district, visitors can view the excavated kilns covered by a modern structure, and some of the unearthed ceramics.

Wat Khao Angkhan

The Wat Khao Angkhan is a quiet, little visited temple located on top of an extinct volcano. The Wat Khao Angkhan dates back to the Dvaravati era (8th or 9th century). A number of sema stones, sandstone boundary markers that delimit the sacred temple area have been found here. The temple features buildings in various architectural styles. Most structures currently standing were build in the 1980’s and beyond. Most striking is a 29 meter long golden reclining Buddha image. The Wat Khao Angkhan is located in Chaloem Phra Kiat district, about 10 kilometers South of Highway 24.

Wat Khao Angkhan, Buriram province
Wat Khao Angkhan

Khao Kradong forest park

Khao Kradong forest park is a forested area on an extinct volcano near Buriram town. At the top is a large Buddha image in meditation mudra, as well as a shrine housing a Buddha footprint. Visitors can get to the top by car or by walking a nearly 300 step stairway. Along the balustrades of the stairway extends the body of the mythological Naga snake, the head of the animal in ancient Khmer style at the bottom of the stairs. The park is located a few kilometers out of Buriram along the road to Prakhon Chai.

Getting to Buriram

Buriram province is located 390 kilometers North East of Bangkok. You can get there by plane, train or bus.


Buriram airport is located on Highway 219, about 40 kilometers North East of Buriram town. Nok Air serves Buriram airport three times weekly. Flights from Bangkok Don Mueang airport take 1 hour and 5 minutes. Fares start at 1,300 Thai Baht one way.


Buriram is on the State Railway of Thailand’s North Eastern line. Around 10 trains daily depart from Hualamphong station in Bangkok. The 376 kilometers trip takes between 6 and 8 hours, depending on the type of service. Fares are 67, 155 and 316 Thai Baht for third, second and first class respectively. For more information, check the State Railway of Thailand website.


Ordinary and air con busses to Buriram depart from Bangkok’s North Eastern bus terminal Mo Chit II on Kamphaeng Phet 2 road. The trip takes around 6 hours, tickets cost between 250 and 400 Thai Baht one way.