Koh Ker is a modern name of one of the historic cities of the Khmer empire. It had been a capital of the Angkorian empire from AD 928 to AD 944. According to the inscriptions, there were more than ten thousand people lived at Koh Ker when it was the capital. This could show how prosperous it was of Cambodia in the past. However, Buddhism was not quite well-respected back then. Therefore, there was no shrine of Buddha, but there were various monuments in Koh Ker areas made on a purpose to dedicate to Hindu Gods, mainly Shiva. Amusingly, there are at least 180 temples in Koh Ker; however, most of them look like small heaps and are inaccessible to visitors because of landmines. Like so, only 20 monuments are secure for tourists to see.
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Explore Koh Ker
Back to the present day, Koh Ker is up until now an essential place for Cambodia as well as Khmer people. This site is in Preah Vihear province, about 120 kilometers northeast from Siem Reap province which would take us two and a half hours to get there from Siem Reap. Due to its location that is inside a forest, many people refer to Koh Ker as a “lost city in the jungle”. On top of that, many visitors who have been to this temple before admired the local people in that area for their friendliness and helpfulness. They never hesitate to provide their best service to the tourists. Hence, it motivates travelers to come back to Koh Ker. Furthermore, a variety of temples in the temple area are the primary charms that encourage repeat-visitors. Plus, you only have to spend 10$ for the entrance fee, yet you have an opportunity to see such stunning temples in Koh Ker. Other than that, to make it easier for people who interest in Koh Ker and wish to visit this place, we have made a list of places to explore in this magnificent site.
Prasat Thom is the biggest and most well-known monument in Koh Ker site. The temple’s tower is the highest tower that Khmer has ever constructed. Interestingly, the height of the tower is 36 meters, which also allows visitors to climb the staircase to the top of the temple. What makes this temple one of the magnificent temples that you should visit in Koh Ker area is the style of it. Prasat Thom looks like a seven-tiered step pyramid, making it uniquely beautiful from other temples in Cambodia. If you can deal with a high place, then you should definitely climb this Koh Ker’s most valuable monument. The views from above the tower are breathtakingly amazing. Moreover, if you wish to find peace for your own state of mind, being on top of Prasat Thom will allow you to feel at ease due to its astonishing beauty.
Compare to all the monuments in Koh Ker site, Prasat Krahom (means the Red Temple) is the second-largest structure. Although some people think it is an entry shrine to Prasat Thom, this temple is massive enough to be its own temple. Visitors whose intention is to visit Koh Ker area should take their time to explore this Koh Ker’s temple. The reason is tourists will be amazed by the beauty of it. Furthermore, the atmosphere is tranquil and peaceful given that there are a lot of trees all around the temple. Yet, it makes this temple in Koh Ker look even more mysterious that could dazle the eyes of the visitors. On one hand, just like its name, Prasat Krahom is constructed from red bricks. The style and design from this unique kind of bricks only make it become even more fascinating to the travelers who come to visit Cambodia.
One place we cannot miss when visiting Koh Ker is to check the huge Baray (also known as water-tank) called Rahal. The length is about 1,200 meters and breadth is about 560 meters. Surprisingly, there was a belief that this Baray was constructed first in Koh Ker even before the other temples. Additionally, tourists can seize their time to rest while sightseeing the view of this huge water tank to regain their energy for their next trip to other temples. During the dry season, the Rahal became dried out and covered by grass. Instead of lessening the beauty of the scenery, this Koh Ker’s baray shows travelers another kind of natural beauty that can be new to tourists’ eyes.
Prasat Thneng remains as one of the most significant temples even though it does not bear the same image as it was in the past. The size of this temple is not quite large but noticeable enough for the visitor to stop for at least 15 minutes to enjoy the view of this Thneng temple. Unfortunately, because of the past event that some people tried to steal the valuable stone from this temple, most of the parts are damaged. However, it does not lower the charm of this temple. It is nothing but makes Prasat Thneng an attractive temple to visit in Koh Ker.
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One of the temples around Koh Ker area that we should put on our list is Prasat Thneng. It is only 1km northeast away from Prasat Thom. This temple appears to be small compared to other temples in Koh Ker sites, just like a cube. Nevertheless, it has become an attraction for tourists to visit this place. One of the fundamental reasons for people to visit this place is to witness the biggest Shiva Linga. It still exists inside Thneng temple. Moreover, the environment around this place is peaceful and relaxing. You can take a closer look at how ancient people in Cambodian design this temple. Amazingly, this temple in Koh Ker sites is like the missing piece. If you come to Koh Ker, this temple is a must-see, and you should include it on your top list.
The temple that we should always come and visit when coming to Koh Ker is Prasat Bram. Just like its name which means five, there are five towers in the area surrounded by an enclosure, two of which are covered by a tree root. Fascinatingly, three of the towers in Koh Ker area face east. The central one is the tallest compared to others. Meanwhile, the other two towers face west. You should also take a notice that the three temples that face east were shrines, while the other two that face west are libraries in the past when Koh Ker was a capital of Khmer empire.
Visit the temple of Beng Mealea on the way back from Koh Ker
When you are on your way back, we highly recommend you to visit Beng Mealea temple, which is about 68km northeast of Siem Reap. This temple is a temple from the Angkor Wat period, during the reign of King Suryavarman II. Beyond the left-hand turn to Koh Ker, it is the entrance to Beng Mealea temple. Appearing to be one of the most astonishing temples in Cambodia, this temple seems to be so mysterious. In addition, you only have to spend 5$ on the admission fee. And get to surprise your sight with a temple that could take your breath away. Moreover, we suggest you get yourself a tour guide in order to understand the history behind this spectacular temple. What is more, Beng Mealea is a magnificent sight to behold. It is like a hidden gem inside the jungle. Tourists who have visited this temple before always wish to visit it again and even recommended it to other people as well. Therefore, you should not miss a chance to see such a mysteriously good-looking temple with a fascinating story behind it.
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All in all, Koh Ker is an area rich in splendid temples. Despite this temple is like a lost city in the jungle, the beauty of what it can satisfy visitors. The grand monuments that are not easy to find elsewhere are available for tourists to see. Over and above that, each temple has its own story lies behind for visitors to discover. You only need to bring yourself someone who knows the history of these temples to get the greatest experience. We totally encourage everyone to see the site. Because not only that you could entertain yourself with the elegant and striking view of the temples and environment in Koh Ker, you also receive a better understanding of Khmer history that has been hidden for centuries as well.