Top 7 Temples That One Must Visit in Cambodia (2021)
Located in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is one of those countries that are filled with eons of history and allure travelers from different corners of the globe with its culture as well as tradition. When you want to explore ancient ruins and go on a vacation at the same time, there can’t be a destination better than Cambodia. Besides being popular for Angkor Wat and other architectural marvels from the Khmer reign, Cambodia is home to numerous ancient temples and ruins which have stood the test of time with their own charm. Here are some of the best temples that you must explore during your visit to Cambodia.
Top 7 Temples That One Must Visit in Cambodia
1. Angkor Wat
This is the name that comes to your mind first when you think of Cambodia. Isn’t it? Located in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is undoubtedly one of the most famous temples in Asia. Built in between 1113 and 1150 B.C., this temple was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu before being converted into a Buddhist temple in the domain of the 14th century. It also proudly served as the capital of the Khmer empire. Visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site should top your list of temples to visit in Cambodia. Besides being adorned with statues and bas-reliefs, this temple further embellishes itself with a series of stone sculptures which portray different episodes from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The unparalleled craftsmanship behind the precision carving here will definitely make you speechless.
Location: Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Timings: 5AM to 6PM
2. Ta Prohm
Being one of the most photographed temples in Cambodia, Ta Prohm is known for its maze-like corridors and the structure being covered by roots in a labyrinth fashion. Nature here truly showcases its power by having a strong grasp on the temple. Surrounded by banyan, fig, and kapok trees, the temple was first discovered by the French explorer in 1860. Constructed in the mid-12th century, this temple took 79,365 people including 18 priests. You’ll find all the documentations inscribed in stones kept on the premises. If you are a fan of Hollywood movies, you have already seen this temple in the film Tomb Raider which was shot here. Visiting Ta Prohm transports you to a place that used to be the abode to a wealthy metropolis once upon a time.
Location: Angkor Archaeological Park, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Timings: 5AM to 6PM
3. Phnom Banan
Located in Battambang, Phnom Banan is one of those temples in Cambodia that have been looted several times over the years. However, it still adorns itself with spectacular views and carvings that will simply mesmerize you. The view of the mighty mountains, lush greenery, and villages from the top of the temple will leave you in awe. If you are fond of architecture, you should definitely look for the five distinct towers here which are observed in every Khmer temple. Besides adorning itself with carved lintels above the doorways, this temple is considered as one of the best-preserved temples from the Khmer period despite being neglected for years.
Location: Battambang Province, Cambodia
Timings: 8 AM to 6 PM
4. Bayon Temple
Another Khmer temple that you must visit during your stay in Cambodia is the Bayon Temple. 200 stone faces smile at you here as you enter the temple. According to history scholars, these faces present at this richly decorated temple were created to represent Jayavarman VII who used to be a powerful ruler of the Khmer dynasty during the domain of the 12th century. After the rulership of Jayavarman VII and his heir, this temple was converted into a Hindu temple. That’s why you will find statues and art forms here from both religions. The bas-reliefs at the temple depict different scenes from mythological stories. It is highly recommended that you hire a guide here to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the history of the temple and the meaning of the sculptures.
Location: Angkor Thom Angkor Archeological Park, Krong Siem Reap, 17000, Cambodia
Timings: 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM
5. Koh Ker
Located in the jungles of North Cambodia, Koh Ker is one of the most prominent 10th century temple complexes that have been discovered recently. The temple site is still an excavation site and continues to be surrounded by heavy forests. As you reach the temple after a journey of three hours on the bumpy roads from Siem Reap, a gigantic 7-tiered pyramid stands in front of you. Even though there are approximately 180 temples in the Koh Ker complex, only 20 have been declared as safe to be visited by tourists. Rahal Baray, the large rectangular tank here, used to supply water to the complex. As you visit this temple, don’t miss the Prasat Banteay Peechean and the Prasat Prang Complex, both of which portray some of the finest architecture of the Khmer dynasty. This temple was built by Jayavarman IV with materials such as brick, sandstone, and laterite.
Location: Srayong Cheung village, Srayong commune, Kulen district, Cambodia
Timings: 6:45 AM to 6 PM
6. Preah Khan Temple
Being a significant part of the Angkor Complex in Siem Reap, the Preah Khan temple in Cambodia was built by King Jayavarman VII in the memory of his beloved father. Being one of the largest temples in Angkor, Preah Khan is spread across 138 acres and is adorned with a dense jungle setting. It is also one of the best maintained temple complexes in Angkor, thanks to the initiative by the World Monuments Fund. Adorning itself carved stone eagles on fortified walls, the temple complex consists of ceremonial spaces, entryways, towers, courtyards, shrines, etc. You will find different shrines dedicated to Lord Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu here. Combining Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism, this temple is worth spending time at.
Location: Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Timings: 7:30 Am to 5 PM
7. Phnom Chhnork Cave Temple
Located in Kampot, Phnom Chhnork Cave Temple is the only cave temple in Cambodia. Constructed by the Funan rulers during the 7th century, this temple is dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva. To visit this temple, you’ll have to go through the limestone caves here. Once you visit this temple, you will understand how stalactite and stalagmite formations are happening over the ruin. You will also find an elephant-shaped limestone formation here. Only thrill-seekers and adventurers are suggested to visit this temple with flashlights. You can also go for the second chamber in the cave which is comparatively smaller than the first one.
Location: Kampot province, Cambodia
When you want to go on a cultural getaway, the temple tour in Cambodia is the best option for you. Keep this list handy as you visit some of the best temples in Cambodia. Whether you simply want to witness architectural marvels or revisit history, these temples are the perfect spots to be!