For the real history buffs
What we say:
Conservation D’Angkor was originally set up by the French Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient to help protect precious Khmer carvings, artefacts, stone statues and the Angkor temples. It functions as a giant warehouse for a vast collection of valuable crumbling relics in varying states of disrepair.
Closed to the general public, it is possible to enjoy a behind-the-scenes visit if you arrange your private tour in advance with one of the English-speaking staff. The admission price is fixed at US$5 donation, though naturally more is always appreciated to help preserve these historical items and safeguard Cambodia’s heritage.
Store rooms are brimming with ancient treasures – more than they can actually house, in fact, as rows upon rows of pieces of history sit outside too in covered spaces. Imposing tall statues from Phnom Krom are particularly notable for their size.
Under lock and key, one storeroom is open for the special access visits – though we happened to time it right with historians visiting from Phom Penh, allowing additional access for us to poke our nose in to the main storeroom.
Angkor heads, including gods and demons, sit motionless on the warehouse floor. Taken from the Angkor Park and beyond, in their place concrete re-creations can now clearly be seen at sites like the causeway leading up to the South Gate of Angkor Thom, the ancient walled city. Elsewhere rows of statue feet can be seen, and lintels, buddhas and all manner of pieces of history.
Many of the items lost from temples in Cambodia were looted and stolen, traded illegally on the black market. Pieces are still slowly re-appearing, handed back to Cambodia or re-emerging from the depths of private personal collections.
A visit to Conservation D’Angkor requires only around 20 to 30 minutes. Best suited to the more serious history buffs with a special interest in Angkor, archaeology and history, it’s like a museum without any glass – all pieces can be seen close up.
Though the staff that guide here speak very good English, have a wealth of knowledge amassed over decades of working for Conservation D’Angkor and experience guiding even senior dignitaries, since tourist visits are not the primary purpose here — this site is well off the main tourist routes — it’s not all that clear initially where to go within the compound, so having your own local tour guide may be handy and easier for them to arrange the visit for you.
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Opening Hours: By appointment only
How to get there: Conservation D’Angkor is located by the river up past 1961 Art Hotel. The entrance is on the road connecting to Charles De Gaulle Avenue, the main road to Angkor Wat, where you will also find Mie Cafe and Hanumanalaya Boutique Hotel.
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Conservation D'Angkor map
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