Though Angkor takes centre stage, Cambodia is home to other significant sites, such as Sambor Prei Kuk and Preah Vihear, which are also UNESCO listed. As the most important site in 6th- to 7th-century Southeast Asia, the pre-Angkorian Sambor Prei Kuk still shows its complex city planning. The important ancient capital introduced the King-God concept, the widespread use of the Khmer language and essentially paved the way for the Angkorian Khmer kingdom. Prasat Preah Vihear, on the border of Cambodia and Thailand, is one of the best-preserved Hindu temples from the Angkor period thanks to its remote location and relatively few visitors. Siprang Srinarintranon, Diethelm Travel’s Group Director of Marketing, visited both spots during an 8-day journey through the Kingdom and shares what made these sites so special to experience.
Sambor Prei Kuk
After a 30-kilometre drive from Kampong Thom we arrived the site! With no other tourists around, we started to walk and I could already see that this was a remarkable place. Spotting an old pagoda covered by t he tree was just the beginning of all amazing temples we were going to see.
Strolling to the next pagoda, we saw locals standing outside and could hear a ceremony taking place – we wanted to go in and witness the festivities! When we went in, the locals were having a ceremony to pay respect to spirits. I asked why they chose this pagoda and they said it depends on the belief of each family.
Afterwards, our guide led us through the rest of this incredible site. He knew exactly where and how Sambor Prei Kuk should be explored. We would have been lost on our own!
Preah Vihear temple is located on top of a hill so we took a pickup truck to get up there. Even after the drive, there’s quite a long uphill walk to get to the actual temple. There are four different levels of the temple but it is beautiful along the way and there is a cool breeze at the top. (Long pants and comfortable shoes are highly recommended!)
At the end of the walk, we were rewarded with this stunning view and cool breezes. Of course, we stopped for photos before walking back . The guide was very smart and instead of letting us walk back to the same path, he took us to walk at the other side. It is always good to come with the local; we wouldn’t have known the alternate route otherwise.