Exploring the Hidden Khmer Temple Complexes of Phanom Rung, Muang Tam in Buriram

So recently I decided to make a trip to Buriram, a city in the Isaan (Northeastern) region of Thailand most famous for its Buriram United FC and the legendary Khmer temple complexes (also sister sites of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat) after discovering the latter through the Thai series Nakee which I’ve been watching lately.

thai-series-nakee-1
Thai series ‘Nakee’

The series depicts a story taking place in an ancient Isaan setting and features the very majestic Phanom Rung, one of the two temple complexes which I would find myself visiting in the end in Buriram.

thai-series-nakee-2
Thai series ‘Nakee’

In this post, I’m mainly going to introduce the two aforementioned Khmer temple complexes and another out-of-the-world temple situated in the same area, as well as detail how much it cost me in total for this trip and how to go about places.

From the South of Thailand, Shinnakheart Tour takes off three times daily between Phuket and Ubon Ratchatani. It stops by Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) and Buriram before reaching its final stop.

As I stay in Chumphon, I went for the Chumphgon-Buriram service costing 907 Baht. It was a VIP package (no other option available) and my bus ride – a 14-hour journey – included two free meals and a seat that is equipped with a USB charging and a built-in massage function.


Alternatively, I could have taken a train to Bangkok on Class 2 (288 Baht) and then a bus from the Mo Chit 2 in Bangkok to Buriram (about 400 Baht), but that would certainly be very time-consuming and troublesome.

In Buriram, I had stayed in Nang Rong, a small town about 50 mins away from the city center. That is also where the Khmer-style, 1000-year-old temple complexes of Pranom Rung and Muang Tam lie. Van service between Buriram and Nang Rong costs 36 Baht per pax.

Pranom Rung and Muang Tam

Pranom Rung, or Pranom Rung Historical Park as it is officially called, is set on the rim of a dead volcano, whereas its sister site Muang Tam (or Prasat Muang Tam) is 7km to the southeast of the former.

Both temple complexes, over a thousand years old but still very well-maintained, are said to be among the best ancient Khmer artifacts in the whole of Thailand originally built to be used as Hindu shrines.

The best part is that they are literally a smaller, quieter, and less crowded version of Angkor Wat, so you can freely loiter around those sites without 50 other people posing for selfies around you.

Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram
Phanom Rung Historical Park, Nang Rong, Buriram

Although Prasat Muang Tam is 7km away and structurally different from Pranom Rung, its architecture and style are identical to those of the latter.

Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram
Prasat Muang Tam, Nang Rong, Buriram

Wat Khao Angkhan

The next highlight in Nang Rong, Buriram, is none other than the extraordinary-looking but relatively modern Buddhist temple known as Wat Khao Angkhan, situated on top of another extinct volcano.

This wat is special in the sense that it displays elements of Dvaravati, Khmer, Chinese, Sri Lankan, and Thai temple designs.

Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram
Wat Khao Angkhan, Nang Rong, Buriram

Hotel and transportation in Nang Rong

During my three-day stay in Nang Rong, Buriram, I resorted to the following accommodation and mode of transportation.

  • Honey Inn – 250 Baht per night (fan room; comes with towels, a double bed, basic toiletries.)
  • Manual bike – 250 Baht per day with a full tank of petrol. I rented for a day, traveled at least 100 km within the 24 hours and upon returning refilled 65 Baht of petrol until full tank.

Maps showing directions to Nang Rong, Wat Khao Angkhan, Pranom Rung, and Muang Tam


Nang Rong to Pranom Rung Historical Park


Pranom Rung Historical Park to Prasat Muang Tam


Nang Rong to Wat Khao Angkhan

  • Nang Rong to Wat Khao Angkhan – 26km
  • Nang Rong to Phanom Rung – 29km
  • Phanom Rung to Prasat Muang Tam – 7km

Entrance fees

  • Wat Khao Angkhan – free
  • Phanom Rung* – 100 Baht for non-Thais
  • Prasat Muang Tam* – 100 Baht for non-Thais
    (*If you do both places, they offer a discounted rate of 150 Baht)

I was lucky that when I visited both Phanom Rung and Muang Tam on October 28, 2016, I was told entrance was temporarily free of charge.


For this short trip, total accommodation and transportation cost came up to slightly over 2,600 Baht over my three days in Nang rong. Food expenses are not included but certainly didn’t cost me too much as food is cheap in Isaan – in fact cheaper than Sourthern and Central Thailand.

It is worth mentioning that I didn’t have to hire a driver to take me around places as I was renting a bike; otherwise it could easily cost me 2,000 Baht for just half a day.

So yeah, if you like a quieter and more tranquil version of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, this place is definitely your best bet.