travel information Angkor Borei
My homeland is Angkor Borei in Takeo Province in south-eastern Cambodia, at the head of the Mekong delta. My wife now living with me in Siem Reap is from the same village. Angkor Borei, 400 km away from Siem Reap and Angkor, is a historical centre of the Funan and Chenla eras that preceded Angkor. Cambodia’s oldest stone monument can be seen on Phnom Da, which is the hill in the plains of Angkor Borei. Phnom Da became the name of the first Khmer style of sculptural art, which is even older than Khmer architecture.
There is no accommodation available in Angkor Borei. Some visit Phnom Da on a day trip from Phnom Penh, which is in about 80 km distance and 2 hours driving. Others stay in a guesthouse in the provincial capital Takeo. There is no direct road connecting Takeo town with Angkor Borei, but boat service in channel No. 15, that was constructed in the late 1970s.
Sometimes the road to Angkor Borei is not passable during the rainy season. Regularly Phnom Da becomes an island in the rainy season and can only be reached by boat. However, most of Angkor Borei’s few visitors travel to Phnom Da between December and Mai, when the road to Phnom Da should be passable.
private invitation to my family in Angkor Borei
In case you like to visit Angkor Borei and stay close to the two temples on Phnom Da, I could offer you to stay in my uncle’s house. It is a typical local house, a little bit more comfortable than other farmer’s houses. You could have your own room, but without attached bathroom. And you would have to accept a very simple Cambodian toilet and shower room and only local food, too. We would charge fair prices for a tour to Phnom Da with one or two private overnight stays, below rates of roundtrips that include guesthouse rates with attached bathrooms. It is not a tourist trap. My family will not push you to buy this and that or pay for extra services or leave donations for local orphanages or schools or funds or anything like this.
You could combine a three-days tour to Angkor Borei with visits in Phnom Penh or Udong or Sambor Prei Kuk. Tonle Bati and Phnom Chisor are on the way from Phnom Penh to Angkor Borei.
Even more recommendable than simply driving up and down a long distance is to stay a longer time in the south of Cambodia. For example I could drive you from Siem Reap to Angkor Borei and then leave you in Phnom Penh or in one of the beach resorts of Kep or Sihanoukville.
Phnom Da history
The first known inscription in Khmer language, dated 611, is from Angkor Borei. This is the early Chenla period. A small temple called Ashram Maha Rosei, built in the Southindian Dravidian style, is from the Chenla period, too. The core area of Chenla principalities was the Mekong Basin between today’s southern Laos and Phnom Penh.
But the Chenla culture is a successor of the maritime Funan empire dominating the trade between India and China. Funan is one of the first and most significant indianized cultures outside India. Mainland Southeastasia’s earliest inscriptions, in Sanskrit, were found in southern Vietnam, which was dominated by Khmer and maybe Mon and Cham peoples and Indian and Indonesian traders during that Funan era (1st to 6th century AD). The most important Funan town was Oc Eo in today’s Vietnam, too, not far from the border near Angkor Borei. Angkor Borei and Phnom Da were even the capital of the Funan empire for a short but important period, and they are the link between the maritime Funan and agricultural Chenla cultures.
Phnom Da was not completely left during the Angkor era. The main temple on top of the hill may have had earlier predecessor stuctures, and impressive huge sculptures in the early Phnom Da style have been found in this temple. However, the tall laterite building that can be seen now, is from the Angkorian period.
To learn more about the fascinating history and art of Phnom Da, please visit the Phnom Da page of my Angkor-website.
Angkor Borei location
After visiting Cambodia...
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.