Located at the heart of the former French’s Indochina, Cambodia is one of the most enchanting destinations in the region. If Vietnam is famous for the magnificent limestone islands of Halong Bay, and Laos is well-known for its unique Buddhist temples in the town of Luang Prabang, Cambodia is most remembered as the land of the mysterious temples of Angkor. But like its neighbors, Cambodia is also home of other UNESCO World Heritage Sites that I want to introduce in this article.
Temples of Angkor
Cambodia has 3 World Heritage Sites recognized by the UNESCO, the temples of Angkor are on the top of the list. Located in the northwest of the country, Angkor is Cambodia’s prime tourist site and one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.
Stretching over 400 km, Angkor is the site of magnificent remains of different capitals of the Khmer Empire during the 9th and the 15th century. The most famous temple of all is the Angkor Wat, which is best to visit at the sunrise or sunset, and the Angkor Thom, the Bayon temples with countless sculptural decorations at each site. Those temples are the must-see for any Cambodia’s visitors.
The Temple of Preah Vihear
Situated on the edge of a plateau in the northern most of Cambodia, the Preah Vihear Temple was built during the period of the Khmer Empire to be a Hindu temple. The temple is composed of different sanctuaries that linked by a system of pavements and staircases dating back to 11th century.
Its complex history can be traced to the 9th century, when the hermitage was founded. Temple of Preah Vihear is particularly well preserved, mainly due to its remote location. The site is exceptional for the quality of its architecture, which is adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple, as well as for the exceptional quality of its carved stone ornamentation.
The Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk
Recognized as a World Heritage Site in 2017, the archaeological site of Sambor Prei Kunk – meaning “the temple in the richness of the forest” in Khmer language, has been identified as Ishanapura, which was the capital of the Chenla Empire flourishing in the late 6th century.
Vestiges of this city is covering an area of about 25 km2, and include a walled city center as well as numerous temples. The art and architecture developed here later became models for other parts of the region and lay the ground for the unique Khmer style during the Angkor era. The site is located in a quiet patch of forest in Kampong Thom province, about 193 km north of capital Phnom Penh.