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Prasat Preah Vihear

One of the most attractive and appealing temples of Cambodia is the Prasat Preah Vihar. It sits high at the top of the Dongrek Mountains and is in proximity to the border of Thailand. The temple is around 650 meters (2,133 ft.) high from the Cambodian lowland. The temple is 625 km (388 mi) away from Phnom Penh. The meaning of the word Preah Vihar means an extremely sacred sanctuary.  

History of Prasat Preah Vihear

All the seven generations of the Khmer kings built and restored the temple several times.  Yasovarman I started the legacy, and it continued till the rule of ruler Suryavarman II. The temple symbolized mount Meru. Khmer people worshipped Lord Shiva in Prasat Preah Vihar.

This temple had been a bone of contention between Thailand and Cambodia. Since Thailand ruled over this area for centuries, it continued to claim its ownership over the temple even after Cambodia regained control over the region because of being a French Protectorate. Tensions continued to brew for till 2008-2011. During those years, armed confrontations took place around the temple between the soldiers of both countries. This resulted in the death of a number of civilians as well as soldiers of both Cambodia and Thailand. The International Court of Justice has declared this temple to be the property of Cambodia.

Read More: How to Travel from Thailand to Cambodia in Budget

Structure and Layout of Prasat Preah Vihear

Prasat Preah Vihear has a north-south processional axis layout. There are five gopura or cruciform or pavilions. Travelers go spellbound by the decoration of the exquisite carvings. The esplanade is about 275 meters (902 ft.) long.  

If you want to reach the Thai border, then climb up the toppled and dwindling Gopura V on the northern side of the temple complex. A grey sandstone monumental stairway will lead you to the border of Thailand from here onwards.

As you walk up the slope from Gopura V, you will reach the next pavilion, which is Gopura IV. You will get to witness here an age-old rendition of the churning of the Amrit. You can proceed ahead and climb though Gopura III and Gopura II. Thus, you will end up at Gopura I. The gallery, as well as the inward-facing windows here, are still in good condition. But if you take a look at the Central Sanctuary, you will realize that it has ruined completely.

If you want to want to behold the view of Prasat Preah Vihear in all its glory, first of all, you need to go down and start from the bottom. Here some small huts are there that will sell you food and drinks. This is also the Gopura I. You need to climb down using the steep stairs from here onwards. As you reach the bottom, an 80-meter-long, 163 steps staircase awaits you. It keeps on narrowing as you keep climbing it up. At its end, i.e., at the top, there is a stone platform that has two Seven headed naga or snakes on both sides. Serpents are a ubiquitous feature in Khmer architecture. According to Khmer mythology, snakes or naga get into wedding locks with human beings. Cambodians believe that they have descended as a result of the marriage between the daughter of Naga king and a foreigner.

As you step out of Prasat Preah Vihear, you get to behold the spectacular beauty of the northern plain of Cambodia, the majestic Mountain of Phnom Kulen. If you want, you can enjoy a memorable picnic at this spot with your family or friends. If you are alone, then your camera will be your best friend to shoot videos, capture lots of pictures, and capture the moment forever.

See also Kbal Spean in Kulen Hills

The Gopura is definitely not in good shape. They had to bear the brunt of time. Towards the left of the Prasat Preah Vihear complex, there are neat trenches dug by the Khmer army. The trenches served as a place for a gun emplacement. But you will wonder at the sight of lovely flowers that have been growing on these surprisingly violent grounds. They symbolize that the land of violence has finally embraced love and warmth.  

Ticket & Timings

•  Visiting hours: 7:30 am to 4:30 pm
•  Entry fees for adults: US$10
•  Entry fee for children: Free


•  Carry a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated during the scorching Cambodian summer.
•  Wear clothes that cover your shoulder and knees since this is a temple complex and place of worship.
•  You need to carry your passport in order to buy tickets.

How to Reach Prasat Preah Vihear

Prasat Preah Vihear is about 30 km (19 mi) away from the town of Sra Em. If you hire a car from Siem Reap, you will reach here within 3 hours. First of all, you need to stop at the information center. Here you need to pay for the entry charges. You can also arrange and hire an English speaking guide from here. He will charge around US15. You can also arrange for a moto vehicle for climbing up to the temple. They will charge you around US$5. The option of hiring a 4WD truck is also available. They allow up to six passengers and charge about US$25.  

Now that you know about Prasat Preah Vihear temple in detail, do not make any delay and book your flight tickets to Cambodia now. Do not forget to include Prasat Preah Vihear in your itinerary.