Built in the late 12th century during the reign of Jayavarman VII, Ta Nei is fairly small and was built with a mix of laterite and sandstone. The main point of interest is the often lichen-covered pediments and lintels, some of which remain in reasonable condition, and its shady forest setting. Relative isolation — cars/vans can’t access the temple via the forest paths — means there are no large tour groups traipsing about; though some tour companies bring couples and families here for its ‘lost in the woods’ feel, you can expect it to be quiet any time of day.
Another notable feature of Ta Nei is the layout. The architects presumably had a change of heart and felt something wasn’t working, as half way through the main section to the temple was extended, rather than finishing it with a gopura. The result is that there’s a sanctuary that stands alone, unattached to anything else, within the walls of the temple. Instead the gopura was built on the new, extended section. This isn’t something we expect you’ll spot on site by yourself unless you’re truly down with Angkorian temple design knowledge. So there you have it.
You can access Ta Nei by two routes. One option — suitable on foot or pedal bike — is to exit Angkor Thom through the little-visited Victory Gate and take the dirt road to the left. You will see a couple of buildings — one marginally more official looking with a flag pole outside. The narrow sandy track straight ahead will lead you there. It will fork to the left a few hundred metres later but keep straight. Head over the bridge and walk along the river bank to reach the temple. A guide will likely come in handy since there are no sign posts.
Alternatively, there’s a trail east of Ta Keo. Ta Nei is also situated very close to the welcome centre for the Flight of The Gibbon zip lining experience — so worth adding on if you’re making your own transport arrangements, since a temple visit is not included in their package.
By Caroline Major
Last updated on 20th October, 2014.