Preah Vihear Temple. Temple in Cambodia, Asia

Preah Vihear Temple

Temple in Cambodia, Asia

Preah Khan Photo © Lawrence Murray

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Preah Vihear Temple

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Preah Vihear - 060 - Preah Vihear Temple
Preah Vihear - 060 - Preah Vihear Temple. Photo by Chris Lewis
Prasat Preah Vihear is undoubtedly one of the most exciting places to visit in all of Cambodia and is, in 2015, the ‘hot new place’ to explore. Due to its location on contested land (between Cambodia and Thailand), this stunning temple was closed off to the public for much of the last 50 years, Strikingly located atop a hill, and granting breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside, Preah Vihear makes for a phenomenal trip deep into the least visited region of Cambodia.

Brief History

This Khmer temple predates all at the Angkor Archaeological Park by at least an entire century and is, unlike all others, built on a north-to-south axis. It was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva (Wikipedia Article) although much of its history is still very much shrouded in mystery. Set on a 520m cliff in the rim of the Dângrêk Mountains (Wikipedia Article), the temple is just a few kilometers from the Thai border and has been a bone of contention between the neighboring countries for years. Prasat Vihear appears on banknotes of both countries, each claiming the half facing their land belongs to them. The area was a fervent Khmer Rouge (Wikipedia Article) stronghold for years and stability has only returned to this region in the last decade or so.

Up until 2003, the temple could only be visited from the Thai side, yet Cambodia built an access road and visitors from both sides can now reach the site amidst relative calm. Nevertheless, apply some caution to your visit and do inquire with travel agents before undertaking a journey here. Sporadic trouble is not unheard of, even though no major issues have been reported since 2011.

The temple itself, and its location, are utterly spectacular. The remoteness of the location and effort needed in order to visit simply adding to the allure.

Preah Vihear Temple - Preah Vihear
Preah Vihear Temple. Photo by Frank Starmer

How to organise a visit

Preah Vihear is in northern Cambodia, about 240kms north of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. Although the roads are in very good conditions it is not recommended to visit on a day trip. Best organize a two-day getaway to make the most of your visit.

To get here, hop on your rented car and head north on Road 67, which is a slightly shorter stretch of road than on the National Road 6 but boasts much nicer scenery. This road boasts a few ubiquitous pot holes so driving takes at least an hour longer than on NR6 but overall, it’s a much more enjoyable trip.

If wanting to get up here by public transport, do note that minibuses will get you here for just $ 8.00 USD or you can get a share-taxi for $ 15 USD if there are more than two of you.

Plan to spend the night at one of the few guesthouses spread around the small village of Sra’aem; from here the temple is only 30kms away. When ready to visit, drive to the base of the hill (well signposted) from where you’ll need to pay for a mototaxi or 4WD taxi, as the steep, windy road up to the temple is not paved and quite a treacherous stretch. Mototaxis should cost no more than $ 5.00 USD while 4WD rides can set you back up to $ 20 USD .

Feeling fit? Tackle the entrance on the eastern side and you can do away with catching any kind of ride. You will, however, have to ascend over 2,240 steps.

If you want to really get the most out of you visit, either hire a local knowledgeable guide or take along a copy of the excellent guide book written by respected Italian writer Vittorio Roveda. You’ll find his guide to Prasat Preah Vihear on sale in the big book store on the riverside promenade in Siem Reap, just one block west from the Old Markets.

Admission info

A ‘donation’ of $ 5.00 USD is payable upon entry.

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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: May 05, 2015

Pictures of Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple
Preah Vihear Temple. Photo by Chris Lewis

Preah Vihear Temple
Preah Vihear Temple. Photo by Chris Lewis

Preah Vihear Temple
Preah Vihear Temple. Photo by MAITE ELORZA

Preah Vihear Temple
Preah Vihear Temple. Photo by MAITE ELORZA


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