Exploring Hidden Thailand
The shrine at Phimai is a 60- to 90-minute bus trip south of Khorat (also known as Nakhon Ratchasima). Built in classic Angkor-period Khmer style, Phimai was completed almost one thousand years ago, actually predating Angkor Wat.
The majority of the inner sanctuary a cruciform design built around an inner gallery sheltering a small sitting Buddha used to lie in ruins but has now been painstakingly reconstructed from the weather-worn pink-red and more durable white sandstone blocks found in the complex. The fits are far from exact since some of the rock has been lost to nature and man, but even what remains of this small but lofty arrangement is wonderful. The size of the stones, the carvings (some of the better ones depicting scenes from the Ramayana), and the arrangements all make the area appealing, though on a smaller scale than Angkor Wat.
The nearby Phimai National Museum is also well worth a visit for its collection of sculpture from Phimai and other sites.
For the curious, Sai Ngam, Thailand's largest banyan tree covers an island just a couple of kilometers northeast of town.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication