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Situated close to the border with Thailand, Prasat Preah Vihear is a beautiful Khmer temple perched majestically on the cliff of the Dangrek Mountains. During the early 9th century, this UNESCO World Heritage site featured stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes together with excellent architectural craftsmanship. This temple is well known for its elaborate carvings and historical significance. Whether you are interested in history, architecture or are just looking for something different to do when travelling, Prasat Preah Vihear offers a trip back in time that immerses you in the calm and ethereal atmosphere of ancient Cambodia.

Prasat Preah Vihear Temple

A view of Prasat Preah Vihear Temple in Cambodia.

Image Credit:CHAMRAT CHAROENKHET for Wikimedia Commons

Firstly, it’s important not to confuse Prasat Preah Vihear with Prasat Vihear Temple, as the latter refers to the town and its province named after the temple. The Sanskrit term Preah Vihear means “holy sanctuary”. For many years, the temple has been a point of contention between Thailand and Cambodia. In contrast to most Khmer temples built with an east west orientation (derived from Hindu roots, Prasat Preah Vihear faces northward in accordance with the natural contours of the area. There are five cruciform gopuras (gates) with elaborate sculptures adorning them and a causeway spanning 275 metres. Preah Vihear outstanding preservation and unquestionable beauty are additional reasons to take it into consideration. No other temple in Cambodia can match its breathtaking outlook, which stretches for kilometres across the surrounding plains and is highly impressive.

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Prasat Preah Vihear History

Ancient ruins of walkway at Prasat Preah Vihear Cambodia.

Image Credit:Jpatokal for Wikimedia Commons

An ancient Khmer temple which is on a 525 metre cliff in the Dangrek Mountains that span the boundary between Thailand and Cambodia. It was built over decades, peaking in the 11th and 12th centuries under the leadership of Suryavarman II. The temple honours the Hindu deity Lord Shiva and is also well known for its magnificent architecture which captures the opulence of the Khmer Empire. Long causeways, steep staircases and elaborate sculptures depicting Hindu mythological events are all features of its design. Because the temple has a strategic and cultural importance, both Cambodia and Thailand have claimed ownership of it, resulting in territorial conflicts. This temple is still a tribute to the architectural and creative prowess of the Khmer civilisation and a symbol of its enduring legacy, despite the current political unrest.

Prasat Preah Vihear Architecture

Carving on gopuram Cambodia.

Image Credit: Markalexander for Wikimedia Commons

Talking about the architecture of this temple so it has a linear layout that spans more than 800 metres from north to south. The distinctive architecture of the temple was tailored to the site’s natural topography, incorporating the edge of the cliff into the building’s structure to provide the temple with a striking backdrop. The temple has 5 gopurams or entry pavilions. As one moves through the temple, each Gopuram becomes more and more intricate, signifying a path towards God. These Gopurams have elaborate carvings that richly embellish them, portraying a variety of Hindu deities, scenes from mythology and other. Even the spiritual centre is designed to be encircled by several galleries and smaller temples, and it contains the major Shiva shrine. Another noteworthy feature of the temple is its design to control the water. Several ponds and reservoirs inside the temple complex have symbolic meaning and are useful. Hence, the temple is proof of the advanced engineering and refined aesthetic sense of prehistoric Khmer culture.

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Prasat Preah Vihear Temple Timings

Ancient statue at Prasat Preah Vihear Temple.

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You can visit the temple anytime between 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Only thing to keep in mind is that the ticket counter shuts by 4:00 PM. The ticket price will be 10 USD. Prasat Preah Vihear Temple timings vary seasonally, so checking the current schedule before planning your visit is advisable.

How To Reach

Intricate stone architecture of Prasat Preah Vihear Temple.

Image Credit:CHAMRAT CHAROENKHET for Wikimedia Commons

Firstly, taking a route from Siem Reap, which will take around three hours by car, and a private return trip might set you back because it will cost around 200 USD. One day trips to the temple, including side trips to Koh Ker and Beng Melea, start as little as 90 USD. Secondly, Sri Aem, which is 30 kms south of the temple, is the closest settlement. Stay overnight in Sri Aem before renting motorbikes. Yes, you should keep in mind that the motorbike will not be allowed to be taken to the temple because of the mountain’s steeper parts, so when you reach the ticket booth, you should pay for a jeep or car to finish the last portion of the trip to the Temple.

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Nearby Places To Visit Prasat Preah Vihear

Explore the surrounding wonders near Prasat Preah Vihear with these captivating destinations. From the ancient marvels of Koh Ker’s pyramid temple to the poignant history of Anlong Veng, there are plenty of attractions to explore.

1. Koh Ker

Koh Ker, the capital city of Khmer Empire in Cambodia.

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A historic Khmer city that once housed the Khmer Empire’s capital, located around 120 kms from Prasat Preah Vihear. The magnificent Prasat Thom, a seven-tiered pyramid temple with a breathtaking view of the surrounding jungle, is located at this location. Koh Ker offers a sense of travel and discovery. It is a must-visit for everyone interested in Cambodia’s rich archaeological legacy because of its secluded and serene location.

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2. Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea Temple Cambodia.

Image Credit: PsamatheM for Wikimedia Commons

This massive, mostly naturalised temple complex is about 150 kms from Prasat Preah Vihear. This Hindu temple, which dates back to the early 12th century, is sometimes called the “Blueprint for Angkor Wat” because of its resemblance in architectural design. Huge trees, tumbled stones, and dense vegetation cover the remains, giving visitors a fascinating idea of what Angkor may have looked like before it was restored. Because of its mysterious and unspoiled beauty, Beng Mealea is a favoured destination for daring tourists and photographers.

3. Anlong Veng

Pol Pot cremation place at Anlong Veng, located near Prasat Preah Vihear Cambodia.

Image Credit: Gonzo Gooner for Wikimedia Commons

Anlong Veng is about 90 kms away from Prasat Preah Vihear. This place is a town rich in history, particularly in relation to the last years of the Khmer Rouge regime. Tourists can visit the home of the infamous Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot and the site where he was cremated. The town also provides insight into Cambodia’s violent past. Anlong Veng is a melancholy and introspective addition to any vacation itinerary because of its sombre past and stunning surroundings.

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4. Phnom Kulen National Park

Sprawling view of Phnom Kulen National Park, situated near Prasat Preah Vihear.

Image Credit: Mig Gilbert for Wikimedia Commons

Located approximately 180 kms away from Prasat Preah Vihear, is a highly significant cultural and historical landmark. The holy Phnom Kulen Mountain, considered the cradle of the ancient Khmer Empire, is located within the park. Tourists can swim in the gorgeous waterfalls, examine the magnificent reclining Buddha statue at Preah Ang Thom and take in the stunning riverbed carvings at Kbal Spean. The park is a great place for both history buffs and lovers of the outdoors because of its serene atmosphere and lush surroundings.

Further Read: Thommanon Temple

Prasat Preah Vihear is a monument to the magnificence of Khmer architecture and the country’s rich past. Tucked up at the peak of the Dangrek Mountains, this UNESCO World Heritage site provides a soul-stirring delve into ancient mysticism together with stunning views. A visit to Prasat Preah Vihear is not like any other. It’s an immersive historical trip surrounded by the tranquil beauty of nature and history. For anyone interested in history, culture or the outdoors, Plan a trip to Cambodia which offers a life changing and rewarding experience.

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Cover Image Credit: Tetsuya Kitahata for wikimedia commons

Frequently Asked Questions About Prasat Preah Vihear

Is photography allowed in Prasat Preah Vihear Temple?

Yes, photography is allowed and visitors can also capture the stunning architecture and scenic views.

Are children and elderly visitors allowed at Prasat Preah Vihear Temple?

Yes both children and elderly people are allowed in this temple and they can joyfully enjoy the temple but the only thing that will pose the challenge is the steep climb and rugged terrain.

Are there guided tours available at Prasat Preah Vihear?

Yes, tour guides are available and it would be recommended if you hire a guide for learning and gaining knowledge for those interested in history.

What is the best time to visit the Prasat Preah Vihear Temple?

The best time is to visit the temple during the dry season from November to February when the weather is cool and more pleasant.

What one should wear while visiting the Prasat Preah Vihear Temple?

There is no special dress code for you to follow while visiting the Temple. Being a respectable religious site you should wear an attire covering shoulders and knees.

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