Located three hours from Siem Reap, the 10th-century temple complex of Koh Ker is where King Jayavarman IV held court from 928 to 944 AD. It is home to nearly 200 different archaeological sites; among these is Prasat Thom, which is most notable for its seven-tiered, 36m-high prang (pyramid).
One hour from Koh Ker is Beng Mealea, built in the 12th century. Its floor plan suggests it may have served as a prototype for Angkor Wat, but its true appeal is the setting. Jungle and temple are firmly intertwined, making for some dramatic vistas and Indiana Jones moments as you clamber amid the ruins.
Head back to town and round off your cultural immersion with a Khmer dance performance at the Angkor Village Apsara Theatre (Wat Bo Rd). The apsara dancers – who look like they could have stepped out of a temple relief – perform formal and folk dances that date back to the 12th century.
This article was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine.