Koh Ker Temple Safari

2 days / 1 nights

One of the best options for a 1-night Safari experience is our Koh Ker Temple Safari, as it is accessible in less than three hours from Siem Reap. Koh Ker is a popular choice as it includes a visit to the jungle temple of Beng Mealea en route. Koh Ker was a 10th century rival capital to Angkor and is home to a prolific array of temples from this era. The Mayan-eques step pyramid of Prasat Thom is most impressive, but other smaller temples are also striking, including Prasat Bram with its suffocating strangler figs.

In brief

  1. Day 1: Siem Reap to Beng Mealea and onto Koh Ker Temple Safari
  2. Day 2: Koh Ker to Siem Reap

In detail

Day 1: Siem Reap to Beng Mealea and onto Koh Ker Temple Safari

We head to the lost temple of Beng Mealea, the titanic of temples, a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the forests of Cambodia. It is the most accessible of Angkor’s lost temples, a mirror image of Angkor Wat, but utterly consumed by the voracious appetite of nature. Constructed by Suryavarman II (1113-1150), the builder of Angkor Wat, the forest has run riot here and it is hard to get a sense of the monument’s shape amid the daunting ruins. It is also possible to visit a nearby Angkor-era quarry from where stone was cut to build these massive monuments.

We then continue into the bush to the remote Angkor capital of Koh Ker. The history of Cambodia is riven with dynastic spats and political intrigue and one of the most memorable came in the 10th century when Jayavarman IV (928-942) fell out with his family, stormed off to the northwest and established the rival capital of Koh Ker. Although the capital for just 15 years, Jayavarman IV was determined to legitimise his rule through a prolific building programme that left a legacy of 30 major temples and some gargantuan sculpture that is on display in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

We visit Prasat Thom, a seven-storey step pyramid, more Mayan than Khmer, which has commanding views over the surrounding forest. Nearby is Prasat Krahom or Red Temple, named after the pinkish Banteay Srei-style stone from which it is built. There are many more temples in the area, including the five towers of Prasat Ling, each enclosing a giant linga or fertility symbol, the biggest and best found in situ anywhere in Cambodia.

We then head to our camp for the night, spending the night in luxury safari tent.

Day 2: Koh Ker to Siem Reap

We leave some time free to explore more of this vast complex before we head back to Siem Reap for some rest and relaxation after our adventurous journey to remote Cambodia, where we check into our hotel and enjoy some rest and relaxation. As an alternative, we can continue our journey into the heart of Cambodia and head north to visit either Preah Khan of Kompong Svay or further north to Preah Vihear temple.