EXPLORE HISTORIC TEMPLES
Temples, temples everywhere. Cambodia’s main tourist destination are its temples. There’s Angkor Wat of course, and you can literally spend days walking around the many temples in the complex. Who can forget the scenes from Tomb Raider. But there are so many other temples to see. There won’t be as many tourists and there’s more of that serene feeling you get when you’re on your own.
Below are some of the temple sites close to the communities that offer a more unique experience. Far from the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Some are World Heritage sites so if you have the time its worth going off the mainstream travel guide and taking a look at a few of the hidden gems of Southeast Asia.
The welcoming community of Khnar Po is Located amongst the rice paddies and green fields to the east of Siem Reap. Get an understanding of Cambodian rural life here, help with harvesting ingredients form the vegetable garden, and learn how to prepare traditional Khmer dishes. Take a trip and marvel at Banteay Ampil, these secluded Angkor period temples are perfect for sightseeing beyond the masses.
Sambor Prei Kuk (SPK) is one of the main tourist attractions in Kampong Thom. The Sambor Prei Kuk Conservation and Development Community has 600 members in 7 villages. The untouched and overgrown temples of Sambor Prei Kuk are a unique pre-Angkorian attraction located only 30 km north of the provincial town of Kampong Thom. The main attractions of Sambor Prei Kuk are the temple ruins of Isanapura (Isanborei), located in an area of 1 x 5 kilometers. The temples that were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 1992, attract an estimated 20,000 Cambodian and 5,000 international tourists each year.
Phnom Kampong Trach Caves are located in the South Damnak Kuntuot commune about 38 kilometers east of Kampot provincial town. The site includes caves at the foot of the mountains, as well a number of hills which local people of Cambodian, Chinese and Vietnamese descent use for worship. The limestone caves are relatively big. Inside of the cave you find a big reclining Buddha as well as some smaller statues. Also very interesting is the purple earth. There is also a Swimming Cave with a small lake inside the cave (the 'Swimming Cave'), located about 10min drive from the main cave.
Banteay Chhmar Temple is one of Cambodia’s national treasures. Dating from the Angkorian period, it is a precious and irreplaceable link to the cultural heritage of the Khmer people. There are countless Buddhist images and startling bas-reliefs of Angkorian-era life that signify its importance as a temple complex. For 800 years, the temple has remained mostly undiscovered and untouched. Banteay Chmar Temple is on Cambodia’s tentative list for submission as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The community based tourism project is helping to protect the cultural heritage and environment, as well as increase income for villagers through tourism activities – homestays, tour guides, cooks and other activities.
We may be biased, but we reckon that whatever your age, whatever your life experience and whatever the purpose, duration or type of vacation you imagined, sustainable tourism in the Kingdom of Wonder might just change the way you travel forever. With a range of homestays and carefully selected ecotourism sites in beautiful locations throughout Cambodia, there is something for every style and taste.
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