Spectacular jungle ruins
What we say:
One of our favourites, Beng Mealea sits on the ancient royal road from Angkor Wat to Preah Khan (in Preah Vihear province) and was built during the reign of Suryavarman II.
With a similar overgrown feel to Ta Phrom, the atmosphere at Beng Mealea (which means Lotus Pond) is like no other — don't be surprised to see Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones on site. Badly ruined in places, an elevated wooden walkway has been built throughout the site which makes it more accessible and also allows for some rather unusual elevated views you wouldn't otherwise be able to enjoy.
Sadly looters did a fair degree of damage here. We were told the central tower was dynamited in order to get at certain pieces for private collectors. Many pieces lay atop one another in chaotic piles of moss and lichen covered stone, but upon closer inspection you'll see many a decorative piece among the bare building blocks.
This area was heavily mined. According to our guide the mines here were dropped by Lon Nol forces, Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese, considerably complicating the demining work. While the demining has in theory been completed, this still isn't an area to go bush-bashing in.
Beng Mealea is not covered by the Angkor Pass and there's an admission fee of $5 to enter, though unlike Phnom Kulen it is worth it.
More details80km from Siem Reap
Last updated: 27th December, 2009
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