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10 Lesser Visited Angkor Temples

Just a few of the lesser-visited temples in the World Heritage Angkor Historical Park

This is a rather random list of just a few of the lesser visited Angkor temples which spring to mind and we’d point out straight away that we could probably list 50 such sites. We also reckon you could easily spend a week exploring the myriad spectacular Angkor temples and it’s a rather sad reflection on many visitors’ attention span and ‘zapping’ mentality that the majority devote just a single day – or at best two – to what is surely one of the wonders of the world.

The more different sites one tries to squeeze into a limited time frame, the greater the chances of ‘temple fatigue’. Since you’ll probably only visit once – you may as well optimise your visit. Take your time – Siem Reap is hot and sticky, don’t rush and there’s lots more to see in the area apart from the temples – so, in our opinion, a leisurely pace is key to a successful and memorable visit.

Consequently, among the dozens of sites in the Angkor Historical Park, it’s only the best-known; Angkor Wat, Ta Prom, Bayon, possibly Phnom Bakheng, (for sunset), and tiny, overcrowded Banteay Srei that don’t fall into the lesser visited Angkor temples category.

Without leaving the Angkor Historical Park, (with one exception) the following are just a few of our favourites; some are regularly included in our Cambodia and Angkor tour itineraries, while others can be added upon request. Yes, they are all ruined temples but no two are alike; – different periods, different styles, some stone others brick, some Buddhist others Hindu, certain in good condition, certain ruined and several covered with the photogenic giant roots and towering trees.

1 Banteay Kdei

Conveniently situated, and replete with the iconic stone faces the only reason this magnificent late 12th-century Buddhist site is so little visited must be down to many visitors’ rushed temple itineraries. In our opinion, Banteay Kdei is a must.

10 lesser visited Angkor Temples
The iconic giant stone faces at Banteay Kdei
2 Ta Nei

A small but picturesque temple hidden away in the forest, slightly north of the central Angkor area. The late 12th-century Buddhist site shows some well-preserved reliefs and is particularly photogenic during the rainy season when the carvings take on a mossy green veneer. Requires a short hike through the forest to reach it so, sadly, very few visitors make it out there.

Cambodia, Ta Nei
Picturesque Ta Nei temple – hidden away in the forest.
3 Phnom Bok

Along with Phnom Pakheng and Phnom Krom, this early 10th-century temple is one of the few hilltop sites at Angkor. Perhaps the climb puts visitors off but the stone and brick towers amid frangipani trees – plus the stunning views – are worth every step.

Lesser Visited Angkor Temples
Little known Phnom Bok with its towers and frangipani trees
4 Chau Srei Vibol

Another unusual and very little-known site; the late 10th century Chau Srei Vibol is situated some distance northeast of Siem Reap, albeit still within the Archaeological Park boundaries. Surrounding walls enclose a rocky crag atop which lies the huge jumble of sandstone blocks which comprised the temple’s main shrine. Heavily ruined but high on atmosphere this is an excellent outside-the-box choice which you’d almost certainly have all to yourself. (Note, despite its remote location an Angkor pass is required for entry.)

5 Prasat Ta Oun

One of our personal favourites this stunning 12th-century, Jayavarman VII, ruined temple is inaccessible by road and set in a delightful forest glade, enclosed by tall trees, a short distance west of the main sites of Angkor Thom ancient city. The central shrine is still intact and reveals some well-preserved reliefs. A short walk from the nearest road is required and conveniently, the sanctuary sits close to one of the main access routes from Siem Reap Town, so, a visit to this little-known site requires very little effort.

Beautiful but rarely visited Prasat Ta Oun
Beautiful but rarely visited Prasat Ta Oun
6 Thommanon

Many visitors pass by this well-preserved, early 12th-century temple – it’s right by the road that leads from Angkor Thom to Ta Keo and Ta Prom – but few stop. The medium-sized sanctuary was recently restored, is today largely intact and houses some excellent reliefs including some of the best apsara figures, (heavenly dancing girls), you’ll find outside of Angkor Wat. Definitely worth a peek!

Thommanon, apsara
Apsara carving at the often overlooked Thommanon Temple
7 Banteay Samre

Substantial-sized, well-preserved temple dating to the reign of Surayavarman II of Angkor Wat fame. The sanctuary is located north of the core area of Angkor but does sit aside the road leading to Banteay Srei. (The latter temple is a victim of its own success and the ornate little temple sees a number of visitors disproportionate to its miniature size. If you want to include Banteay Srei, you’ve really got to get your timing right.) No problems at Banteay Samre and this highly impressive temple is certainly not prone to overcrowding.

8 Prasat Kok Chak

We’ll warn you that not many guides and drivers know this one and it’s certainly the first time Prasat Kok Chak – also known as Prasat Reach Kandal or Prasat Chuk – has figured on any form of Angkor temple list but it’s another one that, in our opinion, is well worth a stop. Although not the most spectacular temple in Siem Reap, bear in mind that these small, partially ruined brick towers are nearly 400 years older than Angkor Wat and are certainly the most ancient site you’ll visit in Cambodia. (The temple is dated to the mid-8th century and the reign of Jayavarman III.) Some reliefs remain in situ, the setting is picturesque and the site sits aside the road between Siem Reap and Angkor and… you’ve visited a temple no one else has.

The attractive moated temple of Prasat Koh Chak
The attractive moated temple of Prasat Koh Chak
9 Banteay Ampil

Now, we’ll admit the next of our lesser visited Angkor temples isn’t easy to get to and it does come with a somewhat remote location outside of the main Angkor Archaeological Park but – all the more reason for checking it out. Indeed its remoteness, jungle location and complete lack of any tourists certainly give Banteay Ampil that Indiana Jones feel.

The site dates to the early 11th-century reign of Suryavarman I and comprises a mixture of intact structures and creeper-covered jumbled ruins although a number of sandstone reliefs remain in situ. The sanctuary consists of an outer wall with elaborate gateways at the four cardinal points, a central shrine and ‘library’ buildings. All very atmospheric and another impressive Angkor temple that you’d be the only foreigner to visit. A new road linking Beng Melea to Siem Reap passes quite close by so access has improved although still involves a certain amount of hiking through forest and paddy fields. A site that’s worth going out of your way for.

Banteay Ampil - an atmospheric jungle temple with zero visitors
Banteay Ampil – an atmospheric jungle temple with zero visitors
10 Wat Athvea

Another well-preserved, medium-sized temple that again sees very few visitors despite having a convenient location within Siem Reap Town itself. It is part of the Angkor complex and a pass is required but the temple is found south of the town centre, close to the road leading to Chong Kneas and the Tonle Sap Lake. The sanctuary is considered to be contemporary with Angkor Wat and is largely intact with more fine apsara carvings. This site makes a nice little tuk-tuk ride for anyone with an hour or so to spare.

As we said, we could have named plenty more lesser visited Angkor Temples but 10 is a nice round number so…