Ok, we won’t lie to you, Cambodia is home to some great archaeological treasures. Many of which are temples. And the ones at Angkor, including the famous Angkor Wat are true marvels. But what if we told you there is one less visited site that even pre-dates the Angkorian temples? Welcome to Sambor Prei Kuk.
Many people associate Cambodia with the Khmer Empire. Fair enough. They were one of Southeast Asia’s greatest kingdoms and many of the temples and structures you will see in Cambodia come from that era. Before all of that though is the Chenla Empire, which ruled most of Cambodia and what is today’s Thailand and Vietnam. One of the kingdom’s legacy is Sambor Prei Kuk. Situated between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, this temple is still in remarkable condition even though trees, branches and bushed have laid claim to this historical relic.
Departing from either city, head over to Kampong Thom, about a two and a half hour drive. The temple is a further 28 kilometers from the town center, tucked away deep in the Cambodian jungle. The temple was built sometime around the 6th and 7th century. That’s more than 1400 years ago! And they still look great!
The temples are divided into three main complexes. If you like to explore them on foot, go on ahead. Or if you prefer two wheels then be our guest. As you explore this great site, stop for lunch either at the temples or near the river. Explore the countryside a little bit more through a somewhat unorthodox way (at least where you are from) by an ox pulling a cart.
After the temple tour, stop at the Isanborei Craft Hut a community-run shop established to help preserve traditional crafts made of bamboo and rattan. In addition to learning about these crafts, the Hut provides information about the Sambor Prei Kuk temples.
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