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North Cambodia Hunting for
Home to mind-blowing mountain temples, wild nature and hidden jungle temples, the north of Cambodia has yet again much to offer.
The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Preah Vihear, Koh Ker, and Banteay Chhmar offer unique architecture and in the case of Preah Vihear a spectacular location, but especially a less crowded temple experience.
Explore those gems of Khmer history in a more peaceful way and take some stunning imagery back home.
"A mystic temple, above the clouds"
Situated on the edge of a plateau that dominates the plains of Cambodia, the temple of Preah Vihear is dedicated to Shiva.
Preah Vihear, a unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases on an 800 metre long axis, is an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape.
Alone the incredibly steep ascent with special pick-up trucks is worth a story. But walking the ancient pavements, climbing up level by level, each new temple structure more impressive than the last, ending up at the edge of the cliff, facing the land below and clouds on eye level is as breathtaking as it gets. A unique and mystic masterpiece indeed.
Preah Vihear Province has also been developed for eco-tourism with sustainable forest and wildlife conservation projects working with the government and local communities providing off-the-beaten-path experiences.
Nature seekers and adventure travellers will find a vide variety of activities, such as jungle trekking, multi-day camping adventures, bird observation and more.
Koh Ker - Temple Park
Koh Ker or Chok Gargyar, as it is known in Old Khmer inscriptions, is a 10th-century temple complex and former capital of the Khmer Empire, situated in northern Cambodia.
Situated between the slopes of the Dangrek and Kulen mountains, Koh Ker has a landscape characterized by rolling, forested, hills of variable heights.
Koh Ker has a different feeling to it, than Angkor' Archeological Park. The various structures of Koh Ker are connected with a charming dirt road, leading through the open forest from site to site.
The most important monuments of the former capital are situated close to and in the immediate vicinity of the Prasat Thom complex, where the seven-tiered pyramid, also known as Prasat Prang, the only one in Southeast Asia, forms the apotheosis of an eccentric building style known only in Koh Ker.
Prasat Thom complex is also the central axis around which the former capital was geometrically formed.
Banteay Chhmar, 4th largest temple from the Angkorian period, was concealed by thick tropical jungle for more then 800 years.
And still, due to the distance to Angkor Wat (170km) few tourists make their way to this magnificent temple complex.
Stone towers peek above the tree canopy here, carved with enigmatic smiling faces believed to be prototypes for those famously adorning Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom.
Arcade enclosure walls boast masterful bas-reliefs depicting royal processions, princes wrestling snarling demons and one particularly striking 32-armed Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.
Strolling on the wooden walkways winding through the complex, above the partly collapsed structures, makes you feel like a real explorer of an ancient, long gone, world. Thanks to the walkways, with the comfort of not loosing your balance when climbing the ruins.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT
Dry season from October to mid-May is the best time of the year to discover the exciting tourist spots.
MONEY & ATM's
Carry enough cash with you. ATM's and money exchange can be hard to find in remote areas.
DANGERS & ANNOYANCES
Bring with you mosquito spray and sleep with a mosquito.
Stay healthy, eat well cooked food and don’t drink tap water. It is a remote region, health care facilities are limited.
INTERNET & MOBILE SERVICE
The mobile coverage and the internet access are unreliable from one place to another. Wi-fi is mostly available at the hotel but with really low connection.
Stick to marked paths in remote areas (due to the possible presence of landmines).
Marvel at the Reliefs of Banteay Chhmar
Stunning and detailed bas-reliefs can be found in the little visited temple of Banteay Chhmar.
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