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Phanom Rung, Phimai, NE Thailand August

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I am investigating alternative destinations for my free ~week in Thailand early August (rainy season). I've read that the NE is less rainy than other areas. I have come across these Angkor-era temple complexes that are relatively accessible by land from Bangkok. However, I am not finding any trip reports yet.

Does everyone who wants to see such ruins fly to Angkor Wat and see the "best" and not consider visiting these? Are they underwhelming?

I visited Ayuthaya on a previous trip and found it very moving.

I like to combine history, culture, and nature in one trip, so other destinations would be welcome. Nearby rice paddy terraces for scenery? My husband and I went to Khao Yai once, but that was in dry season, enjoyed the birds, bats, gibbons. But I have read a couple of birding trip reports from July that sounded very disappointing and so I think I may not include this trip.

If not this board, know of anywhere else people have discussed these destinations?

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