Angkor's temples - our other favourites - review by Rusty Compass
Siem Reap | see and do guide

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Angkor's temples - our other favourites

| 02 Apr 2012

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Map
Angkor's temples - our other favourites
Angkor Archeological Park, Siem Reap
Sunrise to sunset
1 day US$20, 2 - 3 days US$40, 4 - 7 days US$60

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Our rating
02 Apr 2012

While Angkor’s most famous temples are not to be missed, for many travellers, the  best experiences are had at some of the less visited ruins. Here we list some of our favourites.

Since all of these are also in the main Angkor Archeological park and not far away from the most popular temples, it makes sense to break up your day visiting some less crowded spots - many of which are every bit as beautiful as their more famous counterparts.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

Preah Khan, Banteay Kdei, Ta Som, Takeo, Neak Pean and Pre Rup  


Preah Khan


Jayavarman VII dedicated the famed Ta Prohm temple to his mother. Preah Khan is his dedication to his father. And Preah Khan is every bit as impressive as its more popular counterpart with many similar design features and an atmospheric jungle setting.

Angkor,Cambodia,Preah Khan
Photo: Brendan GilbertPreah Khan


12th century Preah Khan was built on the site of a decisive victory for Jayavarman’s forces over Cham invaders. At its peak, it was at the centre of a city of 100,000 people.


The temple exhibits both Buddhist and Hindu characteristics demonstrating the swings between the two faiths that occurred in the kingdom.

If you’re wondering what happened to the missing balustrade at the western entrance, you can find it in Paris’s Guimet Museum. A French expedition transported it along with other treasures to Paris in 1873.


Banteay Kdei

Another Jayavarman VII creation of similar style to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, Banteay Kdei may have been created to honour his tutor.

It’s more rundown than Ta Prohm and Preah Khan with large areas totally collapsed but will still be of interest to travellers who are taken with this temple style.


Ta Som

 

Angkor Temples,Cambodia,Siem Reap,Ta Som
Photo: Mark BowyerTa Som - An Apsara's head has been sliced off by looters

Ta Som is a smaller 12th century Jayavarman VII temple in a similar style to Preah Khan and Ta Prohm. Like Preah Khan, its restoration and preservation is in the hands of the World Monuments Fund.

It features some wonderful carvings in good condition and remains ensconced in jungle in a state of ruin. Its another favourite for those wanting to capture the Ta Prohm ambience minus the crowds.


Takeo

The unfinished Takeo is an imposing temple mountain that dates from the late 10th century. Work on the temple was suspended just as the stone carving was commencing so it’s austere compared to other temples. Explanations for the suspension vary with some scholars citing a lightning strike as an ominous portent.

Cambodia,Siem Reap,Takeo
Photo: Mark BowyerTakeo


The climb up Takeo is steeper than most temples and the straddle down can be more challenging so be careful.

Takeo is a an atmospheric spot to start or finish a day with great views across the forest and good proximity to other temples.


Neak Pean

Neak Pean is an unusual small temple consisting of a series of pools thought to be a recreation of a mythical Himalayan lake with curative powers. 

At the centre of the main pool is a sanctuary tower.

Neak Pean exhibits both Hindu and Buddhist elements.

Located between Preah Khan and Ta Som, it’s an easy stop when travelling between them.




Pre Rup

Angkor,Cambodia,Pre Rup temple
Photo: Mark BowyerPre Rup temple, Angkor

10th century Pre Rup was the State Temple and centrepiece of the capital established by King Rajendravarman II. It’s an archetypal temple mountain and enjoys great views across the tree tops to the towers of Angkor.

This is another less crowded atmospheric sunrise of sunset spot.

There are lovely views to Pre Rup across from the royal baths at Srah Srang - another nice spot to wrap a day of Angkorian wandering.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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