Why Koh Ker?
When you visit Cambodia, you will probably come to Siem Reap to see the world-famous Angkor Wat and other Angkor temples. They are amazing, for sure, but you should not expect to discover silent temples hidden in the jungle any more, since Angkor has become a tourist hub. If you are looking for a genuine explorer experience, try it out and study Koh Ker, Cambodia's second largest temple town. You will fall in love with it! Koh Ker is definitely the best choice to see the extraordinary without any tourist hurly-burly.
Koh Ker one-day excursion
Koh Ker is located in about 90 km distance from Angkor, the road is bad. However, a tour to Koh Ker is managable as a day trip from Siem Reap near Angkor, in case you are ready to start in the very early morning and be back not before sunset. You will not regret it, Koh Ker is really a dream coming true for those who love to enjoy impressive historical monuments in a tranquil surrounding.
Koh Ker plus Beng Mealea day trip
If you like, you can additionally visit the overgrown vast temple complex of Beng Mealea on the same day, it is possible, too. Beng Mealea is on the way from Angkor to Koh Ker. But in this case of a combined tour you will spend one or two hours less in the temple town Koh Ker.
Koh Ker tours with visit of Preah Vihear
Some tourists like to visit the most scenic Khmer temple, Preah Vihear. It is a little bit far from Angkor to visit it on a one-day excursion from Siem Reap, but possible if you accept a very long time for driving. However, a 2-days tour also visiting Koh Ker is much more recommendable. The best place for overnight stays close to Preah Vihear is Sra Em, where budget accommodation or a good hotel is available.
Koh Ker with tours to other less touristic Khmer temples
In case you have three or more days time for a round trip starting and ending in Siem Reap, I recommend to combine a visit of Koh Ker and Preah Vihear with tours to other important but less frequented vast Khmer temple complexes. If you accept very simple accommodation, you could see Banteay Chhmar in the very north-west of Cambodia. For those who prefer normal hotels, we could drive from Preah Vihear temple via Preah Khan Kampong Svay (Prasat Bakan) to Sambor Prei Kuk and have an overnight stay in Kampong Thom, which is located halfway between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. For a list of Cambodia's largest temples, all of them located in the north-west of the country and not too far away from Angkor, study the Khmer temple towns page. For proposals how to visit them, visit the Khmer Temple Town Tours page.
Koh Ker's location in Cambodia
Koh Ker belongs to Preah Vihear Province in northern Cambodia. The length of the road from Siem Reap to Koh Ker is 110 km. As the crow flies, Koh Ker is located 80 km north-east of Angkor. The most important ancient Khmer road, connecting Angkor with modern Annam at the South China Sea, crossed Beng Mealea and Koh Ker.
The distance between Phnom Penh and Koh Ker is 370 km via mainroad NH6 to Kampong Thom and then NR62 northwards, direction Preah Vihear. From Bangkok to Koh Ker the road distance is 510 km via border crossing Aranyaprathet/Poipet and mainroad NH6, crossing Siem Reap.
The best place for accommodation, far and wide, is Siem Reap. In the closer vicinity of Koh Ker there are only very simple accommodations, guest houses of the hostel category. Normal guest houses and a 3-star hotel are available in 70 km distance from Koh Ker in Preah Vihear City (Tbaeng Meanchey). Don't be confused: The well-known "Koh Ker Hotel" is not closer to Koh Ker, it is in the heart of Siem Reap, too.
Koh Ker in Cambodia's Preah Vihear Province
How to find me in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Almost every day I am available for guests in Siem Reap's popular guesthouse area, in front of the Village Garden, which is well-known among private travellers, or a few hundred metres closer to the town centre in front of the Bun Seda Angkor Villa, which is not far away from the Siem Reap main street called Shivata road. My home is in this area, too, it's only half a kilometre to the west of the Old Market and Pub Street in Siem Reap's town centre. One of my Cambodian phone numbers is 069 51 01 41.
my favourite tuktuk car park in Siem Reap
My homeland Angkor Borei
I have been living with my family in Siem Reap for more than a decade now, but my hometown is Angkor Borei. Don't be confused, Angkor Borei is not close to Angkor, on the contrary, it is located in the very south-east of Cambodia, close to the Vietnamese border. Not many tourists visit this place. Nevertheless, for those interested in Khmer history, Angkor Borei is a famous place, too. It is Cambodia's most important city of the first indianised culture in mainland Southeastasia, the so-called Funan maritime empire. One interesting monument surviving from the following Chen-La period can be seen on the hill Phnom Da near Angkor Borei. For a detailed account study the page about the history of the Funan period and the Phnom Da style.
If you like to see my homeland and the origins of the Khmer culture and if you agree to accept very simple accommodation, I could invite you to visit this remote destination, too. On the way you could visit other attractions and afterwards I could drop you to beach resorts or to the capital Phnom Penhm if you do not return to Siem Reap for a second time.
location of my family's hometown Angkor Borei
After visiting Cambodia...
Weblinks: recommended external sources about Koh Ker
In 928 Koh Ker instead of Angkor became the capital of the Khmer empire, during the reign of King Jayavarman IV and his son. The landmark of Koh Ker is the perfect step pyramid belonging to the vast complex of King Jayavarman's state temple Prasat Thom. Altogether, ruins of at least 180 temples are scattered throughout an area of more than 80 square kilometres. Among temple towns of this size, Koh Ker clearly is the only one in the entire world which, until now, remains untouristed. To learn more about Koh Ker's attractions, please visit our Koh Ker page.
Preah Vihear is spectacularly situated on the highest cliff of Cambodia, in the Dangrek hills close to the Thai border. Every visitor is overwhelmed by the beauty of this unique Khmer temple. Most buildings are Gopuram gates arranged along a procession alley. The rearmost complex, close to the cliff, includes several courtyards. Preah Vihear is beautifully decorated with carvings from various style periods. The best way to visit Preah Vihear is a 2-days trip including sightseeing in Koh Ker on the first day, with an overnight stay in Srah Em. For details, please study our Khmer temple tour proposals.
Banteay Chhmar is unkown, but really very, very huge. The main temple is 1.9 km long and 1.7 km wide. You will not find a single complex of temple ruins of this size outside Cambodia. Banteay Chhmar was built by Jayavarman VII, the founder of Angkor Thom. There are many similarities with Angkor Thom, for example face tower temples and long galleries with historical carvings. Off the beaten track, the nearby village offers only very simple accommodation. Full day excursions from Siem Reap and back are possible, too. More information can be found on my Khmer temple towns page.
Prasat Bakan is the local name for Preah Khan Kampong Svay in Preah Vihear Province. The outer embankments are 5 km long and 5 km wide, making this the vastest temple compound in the entire world. But the buildings are smaller and more dilapidated than Angkor Wat, of course. Among the five largest Khmer temple towns Prasat Bakan is the one which, until now, is most isolated and rarely visited, but a new road from Angkor is under construction. For details, how to visit this remote temple, please feel free to contact and ask me.
Sambor Prei Kuk is the earliest temple town with many groups of stone or brick buildings in Southeast Asia. Most of the structures are from the seventh century, hundreds of years earlier than Angkor Wat and other classic Khmer monuments. There are peculiar characteristics that make Sambor Prei Kuk's temples unique and others that shaped the styles of Angkor. A special attraction are three fairytale jungletemples completely strangled by tree roots. Find their names and locations on one of the best Cambodia websites of a local travel agency offering a separate page about Sambor Prei Kuk.
Beng Mealea (also transcribed Bang Melea) is famous as a large Khmer temple which is completely overgrown. In size and style Beng Mealea is similar to Angkor Wat. The trees inside the temple are less big, but there are many more in Beng Melea than in Angkor's famous jungletemple Ta Prohm. Beng Mealea is reachable on a half day excursion from Siem Reap. I can even organize it as a cheap Tuktuk tour. For details study the Bang Melea page on my Angkor temples website and for price offers please contact me.
Banteay Srei, besides Angkor Wat, Bayon in Angkor Thom and jungletemple Ta Prohm, is one of the 4 must-sees for every tourist coming to Siem Reap. Banteay Srei is small, but of exceptional beauty, due to its decoration. It is located a little bit far outside Angkor. I can offer cheap half-day excursions by Tuktuk or comfortable taxi tours or full-day excursions including Phnom Kulen, or even breaks at Banteay Srei on longer round trips. More information about my offers and ambitions can be found on the about-me page.
Doubtless, Angkor is the most exciting temple town in the world. The numbers of Khmer temples and the sizes of these historical monuments are record-breaking, the beauty of the ornamentation and the scenic setting are breathtaking. As a driver, whose main source of income is arranging daytrips to Angkor, I offer comprehensive information about more than 80 monuments in Angkor and neighbouring Roluos on my separate website called Angkor-Temples.
Phnom Da is much smaller than the other temple towns and complexes mentioned above and in contrast to them it is not located in the north-western part of Cambodia, but at the south-eastern border. It is mentioned in this list simply because it is the temple hill at my hometown.
Phnom Da is the name ot the first Khmer style in sculptural art, because this hill and the surrounding areas of Angkor Borei are the archaeological sites where most of the early works of Khmer art have been found. Besides Oc Eo, which is situated in today's Vietnam, Angkor Borei and Phnom Da were core areas of the Funan civilization, which is of utmost significance for the cultural development of Southeast Asia.
There are no buildings left from the Funan period, as they were made of perishable materials such as wood. The two ancient temples on Phnom Da are from later eras called Chenla and Angkor. However, the Ashram Maha Rosei is considered to be the oldest stone monument in Cambodia. It's small but well worth a visit.