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Preah Vihear Tourist Attractions

Preah Vihear is quite a big northern province of Cambodia. Its capital is called Phnom Tbeng Meanchey. The province itself is named after the temple of Prasat Preah Vihear, what is definitely the hotspot of this province. Much of the province is extremely remote and strongly forested. Unfortunately do large logging companies reduce the natural landscape by carving huge tracts of pristine tropical hardwoods out of the locations. It is also one of the least populated provinces in the Kingdom of Cambodia. This tranquil site is popular for the Preah Vihear temple, standing in the vicinity of the borderline between Thailand and Cambodia.


Bakan Temples

The Bakan temples are located in Ta Siang village, Ronakse commune, Sangkum Thmei district, about 105 kilometers southwest of the provincial town. on a plain that was a former worship place of the king. The temple is surrounded by two ramparts-inside and outside rampart. Inside each rampart, there are many other temples such as Neang Peou and Dangkao Baodos temples.The temple was likely a royal palace and worship place. According to historians, the site used to be a hiding place of King Jayavarman VII before he ascended to the throne in AD 1181 because the style of some construction is similar to the style of Bayon and Ta Prohm temples.

Outside the rampart, there are many other temples such as Preah Damrei, Preah Thkaol, Ta Prohm, Muk Buon and Preah Stung temples.Looking through into the large area beyond the wall of Prasat Bakan (Bakan Temple) in Preah Vihear province, laterite stone refracts the bright sunshine, enveloping the temple in a heavenly light. The towers of the temple have long since collapsed and the hundreds of pieces of stone which once made up Bakan are now a less-than-glorious pile of rubble. Even in this sad state destroyed in part by war, and in part by greed the fallen Bakan can still provide us with evidence of the once important place this temple held in the history of the Angkor period, but looters have other plans. In 2003 after a botched robbery, the central area collapsed and apsara and Buddha statues were stolen.


Prasat Bakan is off National Route 6, 75km north of the Kompong Thom town, Stoung. According to the director of the Department of Culture and Fine Arts Ros Samphal, in ancient times, Prasat Bakan, or Preah Khan Kompong Svay temple as it sometimes called, was originally named after a victorious and well-loved general: Jey Srey. This general, was a man renowned for defeating the Cham and forcing them out of the Angkor capital. "Jey Srey is better known as Jayavarman VII," Ros says. "Angkor?s mighty architect and warrior king."He says that while the Angkor capital was occupied by Cham soldiers, one of the then Angkorian king?s sons, Jey Srey, fled the country to live in the Champa Kingdom (now central Vietnam). While living there, he studied this neighboring Kingdom, and in particular Cham military tactics. After 14 years, he returned to his beloved Angkor and created his own army, training them in secrecy in the jungle.


"While living in the jungle," Ros says, "he completed Prasat Bakan. He also built an iron foundry where swords, knives, axes and other weapons were made by the thousands.""Each day, more and more soldiers were enlisted for military training." "Once trained," Ros continues, "Jey Srey led his army through Kompong Svay province [now part of Kompong Thom and Preah Vihear provinces] direct to the Angkor capital, where he fought and defeated the Cham soldiers for the liberty of his father's kingdom.""Jey Srey's name held great meaning. Jey means victory and successor;Srey means happiness, harmony and good luck."Deputy director of the Preah Vihear Provincial Tourism Department Kit Chanthy says Prasat Bakan was the second capital of the Angkor kingdom during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. "King Suryavarman I began the construction of the Hindu temple Bakan between 1002 and 1050. The temple was completed by King Jayavarman VII," Kit explains. Prasat Bakan is situated in Ta Seng village, Sangkum Thmey district, Preah Vihear province."


Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts H.E. Khim Sarith says since the beginning of 2006 the Ministry has been cooperating with provincial authorities to set up a team to protect the temple. "However what makes this difficult are the current road conditions leading to the temple. During the rainy season we can?t even get into the area," Khim says. The main group of temples were built in the 12th century when Preah Khan was home to both King Suryavarman II and later, the future King Jayavarman VII, before the latter defeated the invading Chams, claimed the throne and moved his capital back to Angkor in 1181. The story of his victories are celebrated in bas-relief carvings on the walls of the Bayon and Banteay Chhmar.


Located 100 kilometres east of Angkor, the site was studied in the 1870s by Louis Delaporte, who shamefully looted and carried off a number of substantial carvings that are now housed in the Guimet Museum in Paris. However, one masterpiece remains in the National Museum in Phnom Penh and that's a finely sculpted head, believed to be of Jayavarman VII. A millennium celebration at Preah Khan attracted hundreds of locals and vegetation was cleared from the site for the occasion, but it remains a complex very much in its natural state, inundated with trees, scrubs and dense foliage throughout. With the re-emergence of Cambodia's remotest areas from years of inaccessibility.


Wat Bak Kam

Wat Bak Kam is located along Tbeng mountain foot in Bak Kam village, Chhien Muk commune, Tbeng Meanchey district, about 17 kilometers west of the provincial town. The pagoda is 1, 000 meters long and 400 meters wide. The site offers nice view, forest and fresh air year round. Local villagers usually visit this site during holidays or national festivals.

Beside the pagoda, there is a large rock called Thma Peung Angkam (Thma Peung means overhanging rock and Angkam mean chaff). According to the local people, in the past, because of the failure of war with neighboring country, the Khmer commander and his troops hide under that rock. They cultivated rice in a nearby field to support their living. They husked rice under that rock and left the chaff. Later, local villagers found a lot of chafff under the rock, which is why the place is call Thma Peung Angkam. The rock is alos believed to be an important worship site.


Koh Ker Temple

Koh Ker Temple was once an ancient capital of Cambodia, located in Srayong Cheung village, Srayong commune, Kulen district, about 49 kilometers west of the provincial town. The Koh Ker complex is on the Chhork Koki highland. It was built by King Jayavaraman IV (AD 928-942). Koh Ker temple is 35 meters high, and its design resembles a seven-stepped stupa. The temple faces west toward Angkor city. It was built to worship Treypuvanesvara, the god of happiness.

So far, 96 temples have been found in Koh Ker: Dav, Rumlum Bey, Beung Veng, Trapiang Prey, Dey Chhnang, Srok Srolao, Lingam, Kuk Srakum, Trapiang Ta, Sophy, Krahom, Andoung, Ang Khna, Teuk Krahom, Damrei Sar, Krarab, Banteay Pichoan, Kuk, Kmao, Thneung, Thorn Balang, Rohal, Chamneh, Sampich, Trapiang Svay, Neang Kmao, Pram, Bat, Khnar Chen, Klum, Chrab, Dangtung, Prang, Kampiang.... These temples were not constructed near each other. Today, many of them are no longer standing, and some are buried in the ground. The followings are locations and descriptions of some of the Koh Ker temples:


Neang Khmao Temple

The Koh Ker complex is along a trail that is about 3 kilometers long. The first temple, Neang Khmao sits atop a small hill on the east side of the trail. The temple, which faces west toward Angkor city, is made of sandstone. It is 20 meters high and resembles a stupa. The temple terrace is 2 meters high and divided into three decks. The temple is surrounded by a laterite rampart, 44 meters square and 2 meters high. The rampart has only two openings; one on the east side, and the other on the west. The temple once housed lingam and yoni, but only yoni remains. The lintel sculpture has been damaged, but otherwise, most of the temple is in good condition, while nearly three-quarters of the rampart is good condition.

Pram Temple

About 700 to 800 meters north of Neang Khmao temple is another temple called Pram temple. Constructed of laterite and sandstone, it sits on a small hill surrounded by bushes that block the lingam and the lintel. The main body of the temple is in good condition.

Chen Temple

Farther down the trail is a three-peak temple made of laterite and sandstone. It faces east and is called Chen temple. Inside the temple there is a piece of lingam and remnants of a statue of King Jayavarman IV. A sculpture of garuda's head on the south lintel is missing. The temple is overgrown by forest.

Preng Well

About 800 to 900 meters farther, there is the Preng well, which is similar to a pond. Surrounded by stone, it is 20 meters square. The terrace is about 8 centimeters high. The water in the pond is clear, and a nearby tree provides shade for weary visitors looking for a place to relax.

Rampart of Koh Ker Temple

Another kilometer down the trail is the rampart of Koh Ker temple. 1 kilometer long and 2 kilometers high, it is made of laterite. Koh Ker temple is the middle of a rampart, surrounded by 20 more temples. Some of the temples are:

Kuk Temple or Gopura

Kuk temple or Gopura is made of sandstone and has a sculpture of lotus petals on the temple fronton. Although the door frame is damaged, most of the temple is in good condition. A Shiva lingam that once was housed inside has been looted. . Prang Temple

Prang temple is constructed of sandstone and bricks. There are five separate parts of this temple. About 70 percent of the temple is still standing.


Krahom Temple

About 10 meters farther is Kramhom temple (The red temple). Constructed of brick and shaped like a seven-level pyramid, the temple is decorated with a 20-meter-tall sculpture of lotus petals. Inside the temple, there is a 3-meter-tall statue of Shiva with eight arms and four heads. The statue is supported by a l-square-meter base. The statue is seriously damaged, only some parts remain.

Khmao Temple

Farther down is Khmao temple. On the wall and door frame of the temple, there is a partially damaged inscription. Near the temple is a rampart gateway to Kampiang temple. The gateway is a 2-meter staircase. Some sculptures of lotus petals, seven-headed nagas and garudas remain.

Koh Ker Temple

About 300 meters farther to the west is Kampiang or Koh Ker temple. From a distance, the temple looks like a small hill, because it is covered by forest. Up close, however, it is actually a 35-meter-high stupa made of sandstone. It has seven levels, each level about 5 meters above the other. Each deck has a 2-meter-wide terrace, and there is a 55- step staircase to the top. At the top of the temple, there are large statues of garudas supporting Shiva lingam Treypuvanesvara. Nearby, there is a 4-meter square well, now completely covered by grass. According to local villagers, if a coconut is dropped into this well, it will appear in the pond near Neang Khmao temple. There is vegetation growing on top of the temple, and from there visitors have an excellent view of the surrounding landscape, in particular, Phnom Dangrek, Phnom Tbeng, and Kulen district.To the north of Koh Ker temple is another temple, Damrei Sar temple, but it is heavily damaged. To the northeast, is Iingam temple. This temple once housed three Shiva lingams, but some are now damaged.


Kork Beng Temple

Kork Beng Temple is located in Wat Prasat Chey Preuk on Kork Beng Village, Kampong Pranak commune, Tbiang Meanchey district. The leterite amd sandstone temple was built between AD 936 and 951 by a commander name Kork on ordered from King Jayavarman IV. There is a hug Beng Tree near the temple. Therefore, the king named the temple Kork Beng. Today only a few stones of the ancient temple remain. The temple, however, was reconstructed with concrete in 1988. The new temple is 8 meters high and 12 meters square. There is a statue of Bodhisattva in temple center, where the worship place is.


Krapum Chhouk Temple

Krapum Chhouk Temple is located in Romdos commune, Rovieng district, about 45 kilometers south of the provincial town. The laterite and sanstone temple was built in the late 10th century to worship Brahmanism.


Neak Buos Temple

Neak Buos Temple is located in Choam Ksan district, about 75 kilometers north of Tbiang Meancheay provincial town. The laterite, sanstone and brick temple is 50 meters square and built on a plain to worship Brahmanism. It is very difficult to reach the temple because of bad road condition.


Noreay Temple

Noreay temple are located in Krala Peal Village, Pring Thom commune, Choam Ksan district, about 32 kilometers northeast of Preah Vihear provincial town. There are 3 temples stand separate from each other about 200 meters. The first site is surrounded by double rampart which is 100 meters long and 50 meters wide made of laterite.

It includes five temples made of sandstone, laterite and brick. The second site was completely damaged only temple base remain. The third site house Preah Noreay, but the temple was seriously damaged only Preah Noreay statue remain.According to the study, Noreay temple were built at the same time with Sambo Preykuk temple in 7th century. The temples are recently completely covered by forest.


Phnom Pralean Temple

Phnom Pralean temple is on a 180 meters small hill located in Krang Dong village, Preah Kliang commune, Tbiang Meanchey district, about 25 kilometers from the provincial town. The laterite and sandstone temple, built to worship Brahmanism, is 160 meters long and 60 meters wide.Surrounding the temple is a beautiful nature and abundant fresh airs where a good place to visit is.


Preah Vihear Temple

In the 6th century , king Yasovarmamn I ( 889-900) began work on the original dedicated to Shisa as result of spiritual development, increased political prestige and economic growth was naturally reflected in the Temple undergoing more than 300 years of consultation with deal of remodeling under subsequent King Suryavarman II ( 1113 -1150) this increased prestige naturally changed the original small sanctuary into one of the greatest Khmer temples of all times. This ranking was the result of the finest in situ carving that depicted the highest standards of unique Khmer architecture.

Under the Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1904 and 1907, the line of frontier between Cambodia and Thai along the Dongrak Mountains followed justice at the Hague officially found that the Preah Vihear Temple situated inside the Cambodia territory.


The World Heritage Committee, meeting for its 32nd session, finished inscribing the Temple of Preah Vihear sites on UNESCO?s World Heritage List on 8 July with the addition of 19 cultural sites and eight natural sites to the List.


Wat Peung Preah Kor

Wat Peung Preah Kor is worship place located in Mohapol Village, Chhean Muk commune, Tbeng Meanchey district, next to the foot of Tbeng mountain. The site features beautiful natures and is a good place for local and foreign visitors to relax. Superstitious people believe that the site is very powerful.


Steung Ksach Resort

Is the natural resort, locates along the river of Sen at Thmey Village, Kampong Pra Nak Commune, Tbeng Mean Chey District in three-Kilometer distance from the provincial town by a trail. The resort has served the local visitors especially those who live in the provincial town of Preah Vihear with their leisure activities usually like swimming and boating during the national festivals. Preah Vihear Province has 228 ancient temples included:

- 108 temples in Ku Len District.

- 16 temples in Sang Kum Thmey District.
- 55 temples in Cham Ksan District.
- 18 temples in Chheb District.
- 11 temples in Ro Vieng District.
- 11 temples in Chey Sen District.
- 09 temples in Tbeng Mean Chey District.


Thmatboey

Thmatboey is an isolated village located in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary in the Northern Plains of Cambodia. The site supports globally important breeding populations of two critically endangered Ibis species: the Giant Ibis and the White-shouldered Ibis, in the only known nesting site of this species.

Visitors can walk through a rich eco-system of open woodlands, seasonally-inundated grasslands, deciduous dipterocarp forest and scattered wetlands. Between the 9th and 15th centuries A.D. the Khmer Empire based at Angkor dominated the landscape and many features can still be seen today.

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