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Preah Vihear

The ruins of Preah Vihear sit, serene and still, on a mountain cliff overlooking the northern Cambodian countryside, right on the border with Thailand. Steeped in spirituality, it’s a striking example of the region’s beautiful Khmer architecture. Although it has a lower profile than Angkor Wat, this imposing temple offers an up-close, enveloping experience of Cambodia’s history that can be difficult to achieve amongst the crowds at the country’s more well-known sites. Wander along the mossy paths that lead towards Preah Vihear’s overgrown walls and step into the past…

Preah Vihear in three bites

Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...

As old as the hills…

200km north of Angkor Wat, Preah Vihear predates its 12th-century sister by a couple of hundred years - there’s evidence of a temple on the site as far back as the 9th century. Over the course of the Khmer Empire, the site was added to by numerous kings, leading to a wide variety of architectural styles, and the oldest parts still standing date from the 11th century. Preah Vihear was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2008, and has been described by UNESCO as an ‘outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment.’

A spiritual summit

Situated over 500 metres high in the Dângrêk Mountain Range, the temple was originally dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva, but as the country’s religious profile changed over the years, the temple became Bhuddist. Views from its vantage points are truly stunning, with visibility stretching for miles across both Cambodia and Thailand. Alongside its spectacular setting, Preah Vihear stands out amongst other temples from the same period due to its structure, being built on a north south axis, rather than facing east as most Khmer temples do. 

Pairs excellently with…

Because of Preah Vihear’s remote setting, many visitors make the most of the journey north by stopping along the way at other historic sites, including more of the region’s ancient temples and modern sites of historic significance, such as the house of Ta Mok, the Khmer Rouge military commander, and the grave of Pol Pot. It makes a good stopping off point en route from Siem Reap to Mondulkiri or Kratie too, offering the chance to break up the journey with a bit of cycling and light adventure in the northern Cambodian countryside.

You may like this journey…

Monk walking

Cambodia Encompassed

Discover the true breadth of Cambodian culture by exploring the Angkor Temples, bustling Phnom Penh before heading to the Cardamon Mountains and rounding up with a few days on Cambodia’s islands.

Price from: £2,390 US$2,990
Ideal length 13 days
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