Photo: Koh Ker.


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A temple complex whose magnificence once eclipsed Angkor’s, Koh Ker’s treasures can be found buried among rich, green forests just 130 kilometres by road northeast of Siem Reap. While the site is not quite so spectacular today — largely thanks to looting — it is still a lovely, tranquil site to explore, with plenty to reward curious adventurers; not least, the prospect of being able to explore while very likely having the entire place to yourself.

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There is no public bus service to the site, but you can get there by taxi, your own motorbike, or by booking on to a package tour. Taxis cost around $80, and the ticket to get in is $10. If you feel like you’d like to hang around to explore some more, there is a guesthouse just south of the ticket booth, or you could make a real adventure of it and book a two-day, one-night tour with Hidden Adventures Cambodia who have a beautiful Khmer wooden villa in the village behind the main temple.

So peaceful. Photo taken in or around Koh Ker, Cambodia by Nicky Sullivan.

So peaceful. Photo: Nicky Sullivan

A monument out of the norm, not just in terms of its location, but also for the proportions and extraordinary form and dynamism of its statuary, Koh Ker was constructed by Jayavarman IV almost 1,100 years ago. We still don’t know why he chose to locate his capital some 80 kilometres northeast of Angkor — it is possible that he was a local prince — but it is very likely that the site had importance before then and continued to be so even after the capital had returned to Angkor shortly after the end of his reign.

The earliest mentions of Jayavarman IV go back to 921, when a huge linga was consecrated at Prasat Thom and he is referred to as the king of Chok Gargyar, which became Koh Ker. Seven years later, after what may have been a very bloody war of accession, he took up the throne of the Khmer Empire which he ruled from Koh Ker until 941. It is thought that power passed to his son, Harshavarman II about whom little is known, in 941. Three years later, Rajendravarman took the throne and reinstalled the royal court back ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,400 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Koh Ker.
 Read up on how to get to Koh Ker, or book your transport online with BookMeBus.
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