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Published: January 5th 2019
The reason for staying in Kampong Thom was to see the nearby temple complexes of Sambor Prei Kuk. These temples were built between the 6th and 10th century AD and are all tributes to the Hindu God Shiva or his consorts. They pre-date Angkor Wat and were recommended by the Lonely Planet as being more jungly and thus more like Angkor Wat used to be like before it was cleared. It recently became a World Heritage Site (2017).
The temples are around 25km from town. You can get tuk tuks or a moto there but this works out quite expensive ($30 return for tuk tuk). We chose to rent a scooter for the day. Our hotel rents them out for $10 a day, and there’s somewhere else in town. These bikes are less well looked after than those we hired in Kampot, and more expensive. On the plus side one of the 2 brakes worked...
Arriving at the temple complex it’s easy to miss the ticket booth, which is about 1km from the main temples. It’s not a problem, you just get sent back, it’s just annoying. Most people we saw seemed to have missed it first time. It
costs $10 to enter the main area, although there are so many footpaths that you could easily walk in without being charged (there’s a $50 fine if caught).
There are 3 main temple complexes to see. Each consists of a tower surrounded by shrines and walls. They are set in a beautiful, shady forest with sandy paths connecting them. It’s easy enough to walk between them, although you can drive if preferred. There are also a number of smaller temples dotted around the site, and on the road in if you look for the signs.
We enjoyed the temples here. Most of them are carved, directly into the stone unlike at Bagan where the carvings were on plaster which had mostly fallen off. Many of them have trees growing out of them, with the roots wrapping around the walls.
Just opposite the ticket booth area are a couple of restaurants, not visible from the road. The one we tried was cheap and delicious - Stephen had fried noodles and I had Tom Yum noodles which came with prawns and pork for just $2.
If you choose to drive around this is just a half day trip.
Walking obviously takes longer. If you choose to drive and are on a bike just be careful - some of the paths have very deep sand (I managed to topple over on our little scooter after hitting a deep patch, fortunately falling in the deepest pile of sand around neither the bike nor the riders were hurt).
In the evening we returned to our hotel and enjoyed drinks in their cafe before heading out to dinner.
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