Visiting temples is one of the main reasons to go to Cambodia and there are hundreds of ancient temples standing within the Siem Reap Province, located within a few kilometers of Siem Reap city to about 50 kilometers/31 miles away (in the Phnom Kulen area).
Described below are a number of temples commonly visited by foreign tourists. Complete details of these temples and the history that lies behind them are available from various reference books, such as "Ancient Angkor" by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques (review and purchase “Ancient Angkor” by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques), "Angkot Wat, Time, Space and Kingship" by Eleanor Mannikka, "The Ancient Khmer Empire" by Lawrence Palmer Briggs, "A History of Cambodia" by David Chandler (review and purchase “A History of Cambodia” by David Chandler), and so forth.
Duration of visit really depends on visitors’ interests and stamina. Visiting many temples in a day can be quite tiring, since it might cover a wide area and almost all of them have steep stairs.
Many restaurants and souvenir shops are available around the temple compounds. Their operating hours are normally from 7am to 5:30pm. (More about restaurants in Siem Reap). There are also a few toilets, which are easily reached. Some of these toilets might be a little dark because of no electricity, or not in their best condition.
Prior to visiting any temple, visitors need to buy their tickets, which can be purchased at the ticketing office located just to the north of Siem Reap city, about 2.8 kilometers or 1.7 miles (in the Angkor Wat direction), a few minutes Tuk-tuk ride only. There are three ticket validity periods: one day, three days or seven days, for US$ 20, $ 40, and $ 60, respectively. Ticketing office opening hours are 5am to 5:30pm.
There is an information board placed next to the ticketing office: make sure you read the instructions carefully.
If you are interested in knowing more about the stories behind the temples and other interesting information related to it, hiring a tour guide is recommended. They can be hired from the tourism office, which is located on Vithei Charles de Gaulle, opposite the Grand Hotel d’Angkor (close to the Siem Reap River). Rates: US$ 25 (English speaking guide), $ 35 (French speaker), $ 50 (Spanish speaker) and so forth. Telephone: +855 63 963996 or +855 21 963461 Opening hours from 7am or 8am, depending on the weather, to 11am, closed for lunch and will be available again from 2pm to 5pm.
Usually, you need to make an appointment at least a day in advance, though a few days ahead of your trip is advisable during the holiday seasons. Once the appointment is made, normally your guide, who wears a brown shirt, will meet you at your hotel, with either a Remork/Tuk-tuk or car, as per your preference.
For those who like to ride bicycles, usually they can park their bicycles near the ticket check point (at own risk), except in Angkor Wat, where a dedicated parking lot is available (to the west of the entrance) at a cost of 500 Riel. Electric bicycles are also available and electric bike stations are placed around many temple compounds. A new electric car is also now operating around Angkor Thom complex. More about public transportation in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Angkor International Documentation Center
If you would like to find more information related to Angkor, visiting the Angkor International Documentation Center may be the answer.
|Location||:||Angkor Coex Compound, Apsara road (to the north of the "Apsara Roundabout")|
|Telephone||:||+855 63 6300020|
|Operating hours||:||Monday-Friday, 7am-11:30am & 2pm-5:30pm, closed on Saturday, Sunday and national holidays|
|How to get there||:||by bicycle, car, Tuk-tuk or motodup|
|Remarks||:||public are not allowed to borrow any documents, except with the permission of the director of the center, which may be granted only upon written request. If granted, the documents can be borrowed only for one week.|
A list of some of the temples according to the year of construction:
Preah Ko | Bakong | Lolei | Phnom Krom | Prasat Kravan | East Mebon | Pre Rup | Banteay Srei | Phimeanakas and the Royal Palace | Ta Keo | Baphuon | Angkor Wat | Banteay Samre | Srah Srang | Preah Khan | The Elephants Terrace | Neak Pean | Ta Som | Ta Prohm | Banteay Kdei | Bayon | Leper King Terrace
As one of the oldest temple compounds in the Siem Reap Province, the Preah Ko, which means the “Sacred Cow”, compound was completed around 880. As with the other older temples, bricks are used as its main components. It is located at about 12.5 kilometers (7.9 miles) from the Siem Reap river (center), towards the east along the National Road 6.
There are six Hindu temples here, built by Indravarman I, and dedicated to the Shiva god. Three temples are located adjacent to each other, aligned north to south, with all doors open to the east. The other smaller three temples are standing right behind the bigger ones.
The entrance to Preah Ko is less than 500 meters (about 480 yards) to the south of the main road National Road No. 6.
Click the picture above for more and bigger photos of the temple and click here for more details about Preah Ko (by the Angkor Guide.com).
Bakong is said to be the first real pyramid shaped temple built in Cambodia. It is believed that its shape refers to the style of the giant Borobudur temple in Java Island, where the earlier Khmer King, Jayavarman II, used to live.
As with the Preah Ko complex, Bakong was also built by King Indravarman I in the late 880's. The dimension of this pyramid (temple) is about 68 meters by 68 meters (223 feet by 223 feet). Bricks were initially used to build this temple but after a restoration, they were replaced by stones.
The entrance, which is situated on the eastern side of the temple, is located about 1.5 kilometers (less than 1700 yards) from the main road National Road 6.
Click the picture above for more and bigger photos of the temple and click here for more details about Bakong (by the Angkor Guide.com).
Situated at slightly less than 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the Siem Reap city center, Lolei or “three-headed-elephant” was built by King Yasovarman I in the early 890's. Tourists usually will be brought to this temple first before visiting the earlier two temples above. It is located nearby Preah Ko (about 1.5 kilometers/1700 yards away) and Bakong. The Lolei’s entrance is about 600 meters (690 yards) to the north of National Road 6.
As with the first two temples above, Lolei is also dedicated to the Shiva god of Hinduism. It is said that in the beginning Lolei was surrounded by water, as it was built on a small island. However, today there is no water around it anymore but green rice plantation fields and houses.
Lolei’s bricks are currently in really poor condition; even some parts of the four temples are completely destroyed.
Click the picture above for more and bigger photos of the temple and click here for more details about Lolei (by the Angkor Guide.com).
Phnom Krom, which means “below mountain”, is the only temple that is located to the south of Siem Reap city. It is one of the oldest temples and was built on a 160 meter high hill (520 feet) in the late 9th century by King Yasovarman I.
Though currently it is not in a good condition, visitors will have a stunning view of its surroundings, including the Tonle Sap Lake and Siem Reap city. There is also a newer temple built in front of Phnom Krom, with ceiling and wall beautifully painted, while there is no carving seen on the ancient temple of Phnom Krom.
It is located on the way to Tonle Sap Lake from Siem Reap city, about 10 kilometers/6.3 miles from Siem Reap’s National Road No. 6. From the entrance, visitors have to walk 900 meters/981 yards uphill to reach the temple, and then they will need to climb more than 200 steps to finally reach the temple.
Click the picture above for more and bigger photos of the surrounding of Phnom Krom area and click here for more details about Phnom Krom (by the Angkor Guide.com).
This 10th century temple is located at about 8 kilometers/5 miles from the National Road No. 6, that crosses Siem Reap city, or about 4.1 kilometers/2.6 miles from the southern part of the famous Angkor Wat temple.
Prasat Kravan is dedicated to Vishnu and built by King Harshavarman I. It consists of 5 towers, positioned in the north-south direction, with the one in the middle as the most important temple. All temples have doors on their eastern side.
Click the picture above for bigger photo of Prasat Kravan and click here for more details about Prasat Kravan (by the Angkor Guide.com).
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