July 15, 2024

Cambodian Temples – Beyond Siem Reap


Banteay Srei Little Monk

Temple Ruins and Novice Monk


Many visitors to Cambodia enjoy the temples of Siem Reap but never explore the many magnificent temples and ruins that lie beyond Siem Reap. Yes, Siem Reap has a wonderful concentration of temples and historical sites including it’s centerpiece – Angkor Wat. They should not be missed.  But Siem Reap is so full of tourists and visitors and buses and vendors. The temple area is a busy place with lots of hustle and bustle.  It has more a feel of a traffic center of rushing, temple-visiting tourists than it does of ancient historical Buddhist temples lost for ages to the jungles of Cambodia. For those who desire a different type of Cambodian Temple Experience – dare I say a more authentic experience – I suggest you take the time to explore Cambodian Temples Beyond Siem Reap.

A trip away from Siem Reap gives the traveler a chance to see some of the Cambodian countryside and to ha d temple experiences much different from those in Siem Reap.  You can visit temples which have not been restored, allowing a chance to see how they appeared when they were discovered.  These temples are also less visited.  You can enjoy the peace and wonder of the experience as you wander the grounds in their more peaceful and natural state..


In one day it’s possible to explore some wonderful locations away from Siem Reap. Here’s how.

Day Trip

Cambodian Temples – Beyond Siem Reap

In one day the traveler can visit three of the most exceptional and historical temple sites outside of Siem Reap – Prasat Bakong, Prasat Banteay Srei, and Prasat Beng Menlea.  Travel to these locations also affords a most pleasant opportunity to enjoy and experience the Cambodian Countryside.

Start you trip by arranging for a car and driver for the day.  The trip covers roughly 146 kilometers – about 3.5 hours total driving time.  Add to that the time you will spend visiting the three locations and having some lunch and you have a very nice day trip. The cost for the car and driver will be around 2,453 Thai Baht, depending on your negotiating skills, which is $70.00 at the current exchange rate. Share the journey with your friends and the price per person is quite reasonable.

SR Route

Day trip route to visit the three temple locations mentioned above.


Prasat Banteay Srei 

 Constructed in 987 BC as a Hindu temple, Prasat Banteay Srei lies 23 miles northeast of Siem Reap. Dedicated to the Hindu God Siva, it’s beauty has led some to refer to it as a “precious gem” or “jewel of khmer art.”

Banteay Srei Temples
Banteay Srei Temple Cambodia
Banteay Srei Gateway
Banteay Srei Temple Gateway – Cambodia
Banteay Srei Center
Banteay Srei Courtyard – Cambodia

Cambodian Countryside

As you drive through the beautiful Cambodian Countryside, stop for awhile.  Walk out into the fields.  Meet the families, and children, and workers.  Make a connection, if only briefly, with the friendly people of Cambodia.

Siem Reap Countryside Boy
Young Cambodian boy in field outside his home.


Siem Reap Day Trip Waterbuffalo

Siem Reap Countryside Woman
Cambodian woman taking part in harvest – hand labor.



Prasat Bakong

Prasat Bakong, started in 881 B.C., is also a Hindu Temple Complex.  Dedicated to the gods Vishnu and Shiva, the temple represents the cosmic Mount Meru.


Prasat Bakong Stupa
Prasat Bakong Temple – Cambodia


Prasat Bakong entrance
Prasat Bakong Hindu Temple – Cambodia



Prasat Beng Mealea

Preset Beng Mealea is 77 kilometers from Siem Reap. Among the Khmer Empire’s larger temples, Beng Mealea was also constructed as a Hindu Temple in honor of Vishnu around the same period as Angkor Wat. It’s location made it difficult to reach with a road only recently constructed allowing more easy access.  It is largely unrestored, it’s huge stones having tumbled into disarray where they mostly remain to this day.  Trees and jungle growth have invaded the structures.  A visit to Beng Mealea is a very different temple experience.

Prasat Beng Mealea Tangles
Much of Prasat Beng Mealea has been over grown by trees and jungle growth.


Prasat Beng Mealea Ruins
Beng Mealea Ruins – little restoration work has been done here.


Prasat Beng Mealea Explorer
A visit to Beng Mealea gives the intrepid traveler that “Tomb Raider” type of feeling.


If time and budget allow, a visit to temples outside the immediate Siem Reap area is a rewarding journey The drive through the countryside is pleasant and you won’t be surrounded by throngs of tourists hoping on and off buses as you visit the temples.  You won’t be alone, but you will be able to have a much more quiet and personal experience as you wander the ruins.  Some temples,  Prasat Being Mealea for example, remain unrestored, offering a chance to see these temples as they once were when rediscovered after years of being hidden and overgrown in the Cambodian jungle.

Cambodia Temples Beyond Siem Reap …………. Enjoy The Adventure!


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