Cambodia's secret temple
Preah Vihear is the locals’ best kept secret - a magnificent temple perched upon a steep cliff top right on Cambodia’s northern border, with panoramic views across the plains beneath. A little off the crowded beaten tourist track, it maintains an air of majesty and mystery that conjures up dramatic images of days gone by, not least because of the mythical Khmer general who jumped to his death from Preah Vihear, hoping to recruit an army of ghost warriors.
What to expect at Preah Vihear...
Preah Vihear is steeped in history; construction of the first temple on the site dates back as far as the 9th century, although the oldest surviving parts of the temple are thought to be 11th century in origin.
Over the course of the Khmer Empire, the site was added to by numerous kings, which means you’ll see a wide variety of architectural styles as you explore the site. In recognition of its long and varied history, Preah Vihear was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2008, and is described by UNESCO as an ‘outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment.’
Situated over 500 metres high in the Dângrêk Mountain Range, the temple was dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. Views from its vantage points are truly stunning, with visibility stretching for miles across both Cambodia and Thailand. As well as its spectacular setting, Preah Vihear also 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.
Because of Preah Vihear’s remote setting, we recommend you make the most of the journey north by stopping along the way to see significant sites such as the house of Ta Mok, the Khmer Rouge military commander, and the grave of Pol Pot.
The trip also combines well with some camping and the excellent light adventure opportunities offered by northern Cambodia’s countryside, but if you’d rather put your feet up and enjoy some well earned rest and relaxation, the comfortable Preah Vihear Boutique Hotel is close by.
Location: Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia
Duration: 1 night
Accommodation: The simple and stylish Preah Vihear boutique hotel
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'Take yourself really off the beaten track by combining this ancient clifftop temple with some camping and light adventure in northern Cambodia'
Good to know...
Due to Preah Vihear being right on the border, there is an ongoing dispute over the site between Cambodia and Thailand, although a legal ruling in the 1960s gave ownership to Cambodia.