Most travellers planning to take a trip to Cambodia will have heard of the astonishing historic beauty of the Angkor Watt temple complex at Siem Reap but few of them venture further afield and explore the country’s other temple sites tours in Cambodia have become increasingly popular recently but one of the bonuses of visiting these lesser-known sites is that travellers won’t be constantly bumping into other tourists and will be able to enjoy a uniquely enchanting experience.
This ancient site is still relatively isolated and travellers should allow a day to travel to this northern site from Angkor Watt. There are a few guesthouses in the nearby village of Siyong but there are few other tourist facilities, though access to the temple complex has improved following the demining of the area and the construction of a road from Siem Reap. Temples on the site date back over a thousand years, and many other monuments are still being discovered in the surrounding jungle of Preah Vihear. One of the most stunning is the Prasat Thom pyramid, though it’s now forbidden to climb to the summit of this structure. Prasat Krahom, the red temple, is yet another of the extraordinary buildings that should be seen when exploring this ancient site. Visitors will definitely need to spend a whole day to do justice to the 42 ruins that have been discovered here to date.
South of Phnom Penh, lies the mysterious and beautiful 1,000 year old temple of Phnom Chissor. This extraordinary site can be reached by climbing 412 steps and the ascent is well worth the exertion. Initially the temple was constructed by Brahmins practising Hinduism and was dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. There is a Buddhist temple at the base of the hill, Son Reveang, which is still inhabited by monks. Western visitors to the area may well recognise the location since it was used as the setting for the 2002 film ‘City of Ghosts.’
This UNESCO World heritage site nearly sparked off a war between Cambodia and Thailand when it was granted its UNESCO status in 2008 with both countries claiming this iconic temple as their own. Thankfully things have since calmed down but travellers to Cambodia who want to visit the hilltop monument should first check with their local embassies to confirm the safety of the area. This Hindu temple, dedicated to Shiva, is situated high up in the Dangrek Mountains and comprises three main levels including the beautiful Central Sanctuary which contains many statues and carvings
Sambor Prei Kuk
For those who really enjoy adventuring off the beaten track, then the isolated 7th century ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk should be just what they are looking for. This ancient capital predates the Angkor Watt ruins by a couple of centuries and once travellers have reached this magnificent destination they will find a complex consisting of 140 temples and monuments. The nearest town is Kampong Thom and can be easily reached from Phnom Penh. When visiting this site look out for the smiling face, carved into the hillside.