Photo: Beautiful Wat Maha Leap.

Wat Maha Leap and Prey Chung Kran weaving village

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Along the prettiest of waterways, 24 kilometres outside Kampong Cham, Wat Maha Leap is the last working wooden pagoda of its kind. Inside, each pillar required a whole tree. Sadly, a large beam fell down in early 2012, partly destroying the central altar and access has been restricted, although a smile and donation should find the key.

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Elegance in wood.

Elegance in wood.

Inside, the cool tiles are spattered with bat guano, indicating that the pagoda is not regularly used. But the beautifully painted pillars are glorious with the light spilling in from the shuttered windows to the side, and once you stand in the middle and look up, the rich blue ceiling gleams down, by far one of the loveliest we’ve seen for a while.

We found Wat Maha Leap, while not as large, to be reminiscent of the magnificent Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in northern Thailand. Beside the temple, monks pray and converse in their red, stilted dormitories and you may see an old woman arranging betel nut to dry in the sun. At the rear of the wat is a stupa-strewn cemetery and an unexceptional reclining Buddha, plus a yellow cremation tower.

A small donation to interested parties should help to see you in.

A small donation to interested parties should help to see you in.

In wet season, the area beyond the Buddha is often totally under water, and covered in lily pads. Horses, cows and goats meander throughout the grounds. Follow the dirt path to its end and find palm trees rigged with ladders and friendly villagers drinking sweet syrup. The men who tap the trees enjoy offering their nectar. Highly recommended.

The stunning artwork on the ceiling.

The stunning artwork on the ceiling.

The trip is best in the early morning, before the sun is high and when there is a better selection of boats docked in two places, near the underpass of the Kizuma Bridge and almost directly across from Mekong Crossing hotel. Alternatively, secure the services of a motodop (or ride yourself if you are experienced with unsealed roads) to take the same route as horse-drawn tobacco carts (you will need your GPS or a decent spattering of Khmer to find it, as there are some unexpected turns).

Generally, one of the loveliest pagodas we've seen.

Generally, one of the loveliest pagodas we’ve seen.

If you’re going to Wat Maha Leap, you might as well go the extra mile, or actually four kilometres, to Prey Chung Kran weaving village, the source of some of the best kramas in Cambodia. The village itself is not so exciting, but almost every stilted house in it has a loom in the shade beneath, where the women weave colourful scarves and fabrics. We tried to buy the last time we visited, but didn’t succeed.

Prey Cheung Kran weaver and her family.

Prey Cheung Kran weaver and her family.




What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kompong Cham.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Kompong Cham.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Kompong Cham.
 Read up on how to get to Kompong Cham, or book your transport online with Camboticket.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Kompong Cham? Please read this.
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See below for more sights and activities in Kompong Cham that are listed on Travelfish.org.


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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Kompong Cham? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Cambodia.


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