Sambor Prei Kuk

Located about 150 km from Siem Reap and 205 km north of Phnom Penh, the historical and cultural site of Sambor Prei Kuk which literally means “Temple in the jungle” is one of the most ancient temple complexes in Cambodia found in the jungle about 30 kilometers north of the main town of the Kampong Thom province. It is the third world heritage site in the country recognized by UNESCO after the ancient Angkor and Preah Vihear Temple and is a must-see place for tourists when traveling to Kampong Thom.

The site of Sambor Prei Kuk is said to be the first capital and religious center of Chenla - the pre-Angkor period kingdom, name Ishanapura. It was a thriving ancient city from the early 7th century. There are about 140 temples and various structures scattered in an area of about 5 square kilometers, those said to be the oldest architectures remain in the country.

Sambor Prei Kuk

Sambor Prei Kuk is divided into three main groups with Prasat Sambor in the north, Prasat Tao in the center, and Prasat Yeah Puon in the south. Each group has a square layout surrounded by brick walls. Structures in this area were built at variable times from the 7th to early 9th century with numerous monuments and towers now mostly in ruins, carving of lingams and yonis, ponds, reservoirs, and many valuable sculptures. While Angkor Wat was mostly built of sandstone, Sambor Prei Kuk was largely built of fired bricks and the architectural art here bears a typical Khmer style of the pre-Angkor period with a simple external plan.

The typical scene of Sambor Prei Kuk is many of its ruined brick temples are covered by vegetation with strangler fig trees embrace their muscular roots around the construction.

Sambor Prei Kuk - Kampong Thom

Among the remaining temples in the area, the Prasat Boram or Prasat Tao - the lion temple is a prominent one with a height of 19m. The two stone lions guarding in the front of the temple is rumored to hide a magic spell. A story goes that during the recent renovation of the temple, workers tried very hard in vain to temporally remove these lions out of their seats until a monk came and prayed then the work was easily done by just four men. There are also many interesting legends and myths around this temple that you will have a chance to hear when visiting this temple.

Though not splendorous as Angkor Wat, your visit to this site is an interesting experience itself. A walk through the solitude under shady forest makes your journey a real adventure discovering a lost civilization.

From the town of Kampong Thom, you can take a car drive or enjoy your time with a soft adventure of a bicycle ride to and through the site.
A visit to Sambor Prei Kuk can be done on our day trips from either Siam Reap or Phnom Penh. It is can also be combined on longer adventures that available on the list of Cambodia tours offered by Travel Authentic Asia. Please feel free to contact us for more information.

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