From Sambor Prei Kuk it was a deceptively short 77 kilometers by road northwest to our next stop; however, as those roads are rural Cambodian roads, we suggest not taking that route, as those 77 kilometers took well over three hours in a Lexus SUV, and right now is the dry season to boot; from the massive ruts, looks like stretches are actually impassible in the wet season.
So yes, it’s definitely getting into adventure territory to make your way out to the Tentative World Heritage Site
Situé à l’est d’Angkor, le Prah Khan de Kompong Svay a la particularité de ne pas etre orienté Est-Ouest mais d’etre desaxé vers le Nord. Les monuments de la première enceinte sont le sanctuaire principal, la bibliothèque Sud, la bibliothèque Nord et une galerie d’enceinte avec ses gopura. Les monuments de la seconde enceinte se repartssent en galerie d’enceinte avec ses gopura, un groupe de quatre sanctuaires à l’Est, trois tours sur l’axe des Gopura Est, Nord et Sud, une terrasse des bassins et d’autres édifices annexes. Les monuments de la troisieme enceinte sont le gite d’etape, l’abris de l’inscription, l’enceinte proprement dite ainsi que les gopura et les douves.
Or, pour nous parlons l’anglais seulement,
Located east of Angkor, the Prah Khan of Kompong Svay has the distinction of not being oriented East-West but to be shifted towards North. The monuments of the first enclosure are the main sanctuary, the South Library, the North Library and an enclosure gallery with its gopura. The monuments of the second enclosure are divided into a gallery with its gopura, a group of four sanctuaries in the East, three towers on the axis of Gopura East, North and South, a terrace of pools and other buildings annexes. The monuments of the third enclosure are the lodging of step, the shelter of the inscription, the speaker proper as well as the gopura and the moat.
The first stop before you reach the main site is the Elephant Temple, which has two of its four elephants left at the top (the other two are in museums) and an active shrine — it never fails to amaze us that these ancient ruins are still holy places today! —
then on to the main entrance and its still standing arches:
Inside you have miles and miles of temple ruins in the jungle,
some with still preserved carvings:
The smiling faces you’ve no doubt seen in pictures of Angkor Wat are here too,
and the central compound has just this side of monumental temples standing in what resembles nothing so much as a giant’s playground of tumbled stone Lego blocks:
The temples here have suffered badly from looting during the war years, but there remain plenty of carvings to appreciate.
So, although this place is nearly another Angkor Wat out in the jungle, if you’re thinking of coming bear this wisdom to heart:
It can be reached either from the east or the south but either route involves hours of offroad driving through a bewildering maze of dirt roads with no signage or landmarks. Hire an expert guide and interview them to make sure they have actually made the journey themselves and are very familiar with the route. It is an all-day trip either out of Kompong Thom or from Siem Reap…
This is the closest thing to an Indiana Jones experience. See it before the crowds arrive.
That’s sound advice. Naturally, didn’t follow it ourselves; the driver had no idea where the road that Maps.Me our current favorite for OpenStreetMap offline navigation claimed was there actually went; we just said hey let’s explore that rather than go the long way around … and it turned out to be pretty much just as long.
Still, as the reviewer above noted, if you’re looking for a movie-style abandoned remote jungle temple experience, this is just about as close as it gets!