Discover The Temples in Sambor Prei Kuk

Sambor Prei Kuk (Khmer: ប រ ស ទស ប រព រ គ ក – Prasat Sambor Prei Kuk) is a historical site in Cambodia situated in Kampong Thom Province, 30 km (19 mi) north of Kampong Thom, the provincial capital, 176 km (109 mi) east of Angkor and 206 km (128 mi) north of Phnom Penh. The now-destroyed complex goes back to the Pre-Angkorian Chenla Kingdom (late 6th to 9th century), developed by king Isanavarman I as the main royal sanctuary and capital. Understood then as Isanapura (Khmer: ឦស នប រ – Isan borak) In 2017, Sambor Prei Kuk was stated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Found on the Eastern bank of the Tonle Sap lake, close to the Stueng Saen River, the central part of Sambor Prei Kuk is divided into three primary groups. The structures of Sambor Prei Kuk are particular of the Pre-Angkorian duration with a primary external strategy. Sambor Prei Kuk is situated in the middle of fully grown subtropical forests with minimal undergrowth.


7th century

Isanavarman I ruled over the Chenla Kingdom between 616 and 637, taking Isanabura as his capital. It is argued that he constructed the first temple Prasat Sambor (Group N). As there is an engraving on the website associated with his reign and outdated September 13, 627. Chenla dominated various principalities in the Northwest of Cambodia after the end of the Chinese reign duration yǒnghuī (永徽) (i. e. after January 31 656), which formerly (in 638/39) paid homage to China.

The last essential king in Isnapur was Jayavarman I, whose death triggered chaos to the kingdom at the start of the 8th century. Breaking it in numerous principalities and breaking the ice to a brand-new time: Angkor. This website is likewise declared an early capital of Jayavarman II (O’Reilly & Jacques, 1990).

20th century

After the Lon Nol’s coup d’état to Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970, United States President Richard Nixon bought a secret battle of Cambodia to eliminate the Khmer Rouge guerrillas and any impact of North Vietnam in the nation. The United States airplane bombed positions inside the historical site, triggering craters near the temples. At the same time, the guerrillas left several mines on the land that were cleared just in 2008.

This website was contributed to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on January 1, 1992, in the

Cultural classification – Official faith:

The central faith at Sambor Prei Kuk city was Shaivism, among the four most commonly followed sects of Hinduism, which reveres the god Shiva as the Supreme Being and the Lingam. (in Sanskrit लिङ्गं, liṅgaṃ, implying “mark,” “indication,” or “reasoning”) or Shiva linga representing Shiva to be worshiped in temples. In Cambodia, as it remains in India, the lingam is a sign of the energy and capacity of the god Shiva himself and this phallic sign is frequently represented with the Yoni (Sanskrit: योनि yoni, actually “vaginal area” or “womb”), sign of goddess Shakti, innovative female energy.

Shaivism was the faith of Chenla (ca. 550 – ca. 800), consisting of aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, and native forefather cults. In the Sambor Prei Kuk temples, it is possible to ponder stone engravings in both Sanskrit and Khmer. It calls Hindu and regional ancestral divine beings with Shiva and several altars the lingam.

Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk, Archaeological Site of Ancient Kishanpura.

The old website of Sambor Prei Kuk, “the temple in the richness of the forest” in the Khmer language. It has been recognized as Ishanapura, the capital of the Chenla Empire that grew in the late 6th and early 7th centuries. Embellished sandstone aspects on the website are particular of the pre-Angkor ornamental idiom, understood as the Sambor Prei Kuk Style.

Sambor Prei Kuk Tour:

Sambor Prei Kuk in the Kampong Thong province of Cambodia (initially called Isanapura) was the very first capital of Chenla developed around 613 A.D

It is around 2 1/2 hours by roadway from Siem Reap, making it a fantastic alternative field trip far from its big brothers at Angkor.

The temple complex at Angkor has more than 2 million visitors a year, with half of the travelers who concern the nation visiting this popular website.

Sambor Prei Kuk is just several hours away and has recently been provided UNESCO World Heritage Site status to acknowledge its essential place in Cambodia’s history.

According to our guide, Sambor (numerous) Prei (forest) Kuk (temples) indicates, ‘lots of temples inside the forest.’

It might be smaller in size than Angkor; however, remediation works are occurring thanks to an increase of UNESCO cash. And still being mostly unblemished by travelers (around 100 a day in the high season), this might be the Indiana Jones design experience you’ve been trying to find.

Oh, and simply to set the record directly, it’s not a little brother to Angkor. It’s at least 100 years older than the most ancient structures at the more accessible website.

If I’ve whet your hunger merely a little, here’s whatever you require to understand about going to.

Sambor Prei Kuk Information:

Around 2 1/2 hours by roadway from Siem Reap

Developed in 613 A.D. as Isanpura, the capital of the Chenla Kingdom

If you desire a regional guide, the entry cost is $10 per individual plus $6

Provided UNESCO World Heritage Site status in July 2017

Initially, 293 temples on the website.

There were no travelers before 2007 as the location had plenty of landmines.

Getting to Sambor Prei Kuk from Siem Reap:

Getting to Sambor Prei Kuk showed to be harder than anticipated! It’s still not actually on the traveler path, so, regardless of remaining in a town loaded with trip workplaces, we had a hard time discovering any that were going!

I relied on my preferred travel ideas and put publishing on a regional Facebook group asking if there were any motorists or business offered.

There were great deals of action. However, we ultimately chose Travelhacks Tours, who have a workplace near the center of Siem Reap. We needed to pay money in advance. However, the workplace was simple to discover, and Liza, who runs it, was fantastic.

Here is the information for our Sambor Prei Kuk Tour:

Rate $80 for two individuals, in a personal air-conditioned vehicle

The pickup was 7 am from any hotel or guesthouse in Siem Reap.

The chauffeur was genuinely considerate. However, let us rest on the method there, then having a long chat with us en route back about life in Cambodia.

There was likewise freshwater and some treats in the vehicle!

Sambor Prei Kuk Entrance Fee and Tickets:

When you get to Sambor Prei Kuk, there is a little hut where you pay your entryway charge and set up a guide.

From June 2018, this rate has increased from $3 to $10 for foreign visitors due to the UNESCO status. This still feels affordable to me given the history of the website.

I would likewise ultimately suggest getting a local guide for $6. We had a charming person called Noun Vote. He has resided in the location all his life (you can see us making our big and little impression above!).

There are likewise great deals of young kids around offering head scarfs. Typically you’re informed not to purchase these as the kids ought to remain in school. However, as Nuon discussed, they just have the cash to go to school for half a day in this part of the nation. We purchased several headscarves for $1 each.


Sambor Prei Kuk still has meager visitor numbers. Nuon informed us that even in the high season, they get an optimum of 100.

A Brief History of Sambor Prei Kuk:

Chenla was a direct forefather of the Khmer Empire. It initially appears in Chinese Chronicles as a secondary state of the Funan Kingdom. It is getting self-reliance around the year 550 A.D.

In the next 60 years, Chenla succeeded in dominating its predecessor; the Funan slowly absorbed its individuals along with acquiring the culture.

Sambor Prei Kuk, likewise referred to as Isanapura, was the first capital of Chenla developed around 613 A.D. Most structures were constructed under the reign of King Isanavarman I.

The complicated kinds of 3 groups: the North Group (Prasat Sambor), the Central Group (Prasat Tao), and the South Group (Prasat Yeay Plan). Walls and structures are generally in brick, an attribute of pre-Angkorian structures.

Later on, Chenla was divided into north and south states, of which the Chinese Chronicles refer to ‘Land Chenla’ and ‘Water Chenla,’ respectively. The center of the northern Chenla was at the Champasak province in today’s southern Laos, where you can discover the remarkable temples at Wat Phu.

In 790, a young Cambodian prince, declaring to become down from the rulers of Funan, was consecrated in eastern Cambodia under Jayavarman VII. In 802 A.D., the Khmer empire was founded, which saw a switch of power from Chenla to Isanapura (near Siem Reap), which would be the center of power in the location for the next 600 years.

Sambor Prei Kuk UNESCO Status:

Sambor Prei Kuk was contributed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Heritage List on July 8, 2017.

UNESCO list websites that need to be maintained for the future of humanity and Sambor Prei Kuk were included because of its significance in Cambodia’s history. Likewise, the unique nature of the eight octagonal temples on the website.

There have been blended sensations from regional individuals about the UNESCO status. It is still too early to inform if one will make up for the other.

To learn more about the UNESCO status, you can discover details and neighborhood views at and the primary listing on the World Heritage Site site.

A Tour of Sambor Prei Kuk:

Standard Tips:

  1.  Bring insect spray as there are great deals of bugs in the forest
  2.  Pay for a guide and reserve a suggestion for completion. The remediation employees were earning money $6 a day, so even a little advice goes a long way
  3.  Pick up was at 7 am, and we invested about 2 hours at Sambor Prei Kuk, with a 2 1/2 hour journey each method

We weren’t truly sure what to anticipate as part of our Sambor Prei Kuk trip, as there weren’t a lot of details on the internet. After getting to the complex, and choosing Nuon (our guide) up from eviction, the motorist dropped us off at the south part of the website.

Sambor Prei Kuk is divided into 3, so the strategy was to begin at the south. After that, walk through the central part before completing the north where the motorist would be waiting to select us up.

Prasat Yeay Plan (Southern Group):

The very first time we strolled to was the one above. It is among the octagonal structures that make this website so accessible. According to Noun, they were committed to the protector god Vishnu, who is frequently portrayed with eight arms.

Despite being almost 1,400 years of age, the carvings on the temple side were still undamaged. However, the structure itself was breaking down, with one side nearly entirely deteriorated. You can see on top where it has been protected with wire and wood to attempt and stop the sides retreating from one another.

Next, we proceeded to the 2′ tower. Considerably brought back in the 1960s and once again in 2004, this four-sided tower was initially committed to the spiritual bull Nandin, the automobile for Siva.

On the inside, you can see why I explained it as being from an Indiana Jones motion picture (and it’s not merely Becca’s hat!). It resembles a large chimney, with incense burning away and wax from long, stressed out candle lights leaking down the sides on the elaborately sculpted lingam.

Prasat Tao (Central Group).

We went out through a 2-meter high wall embellished with numerous areas to the leading group of temples.

In the middle of the main complex is the ‘Lion Temple,’ which has a lion sculpting either side of the entrance.

This temple has been removed from the mound of earth surrounding it, and, remarkably, it’s made it through so well. It’s the most significant at Sambor Prei Kuk, standing 35m high.

Inside the temple, incense was burning. It produced a hazy environment that captured entirely in the sun’s rays, boiling down through the narrow opening at the top. You can see the brickwork here and likewise the prominent fractures which provide such a big repair obstacle at the website.

Prasat Sambor (Northern Group):

We left off the leading group, past a big (now drained pipes) ritualistic pond. You can see from the picture above how lost in the forest Sambor Prei Kuk truly is. One minute temples surround you, and the next, they’re lost to the trees.

They appear once again, initially merely a flash of sunshine on some brickwork in the range, and then part of the trees exposing the temples.

In this part of the complex, you can see how required the UNESCO cash is. Lots of temples are turned off as they are too harmful to go into, with fractures in the forest and the brickwork making a collective effort to recover the area for itself.

It’s here we discovered among Sambor Prei Kuk’s most well-known sights, the temple swallowed by a tree. It has a more well-known equivalent, Ta Prohm at Angkor, which is included in the Tomb Raider motion pictures. I believe this one is far more outstanding though, as the tree has feasted on the whole structure, like some substantial land-based squid coming to swallow its victim whole.

We completed the trip at the earliest temple here, which was much smaller sized and had a more relaxed style. Regardless of its age, there were some extraordinary carvings on the pillars that have unbelievably made it through lots of centuries of weathering.

Found on the Eastern bank of the Tonle Sap lake, close to the Stueng Saen River, the central part of Sambor Prei Kuk is divided into three primary groups. The old website of Sambor Prei Kuk, “the temple in the richness of the forest” in the Khmer language, has been recognized as Ishanapura. The capital of the Chenla Empire grew in the late 6th and early 7th centuries. Embellished sandstone aspects on the website are particular of the pre-Angkor ornamental idiom, understood as the Sambor Prei Kuk Style.

Sambor Prei Kuk, likewise recognized as Isanapura, was the very first capital of Chenla developed around 613 A.D. Most structures were constructed under the reign of King Isanavarman I. We discovered one of Sambor Prei Kuk’s most well-known sights, and the temple swallowed by a tree.