While most tourists in Cambodia still make a beeline for Angkor Wat, more discerning travellers might want to consider Sambor Prei Kuk instead. Located 200km from Phnom Penh, the complex (which translates to “temple in the richness of the forest” in Khmer) received UNESCO World Heritage status in July 2017.
Believed to have flourished in the late sixth and early seventh centuries as the capital of the Chenla Kingdom, the site pre-dates Angkor Wat and is notable for the craftsmanship employed in its 100-odd temples. According to UNESCO, “the art and architecture developed here became models for other parts of the region and lay the ground for the unique Khmer style of the Angkor period”.
Open daily, Sambor Prei Kuk can be reached via a short detour from Highway 6, which connects Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Sambor Prei Kuk website
This article was originally published in the September 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine.