One of Cambodia‘s most beautiful and impressive Angkorian-era temples, Banteay Chhmar is around a two-hour drive from Siem Reap. Its remote location hidden deep in dense jungle makes a trek here a tomb raider-style exploration that’s only for the most adventurous travellers. Forget the throngs of tourists you’ll find at Angkor Wat – here you can experience rural Cambodian life away from the crowds!
Constructed on the original site of a ninth century temple, the main temple at Banteay Chhmar was once home to the largest Buddhist temple of the Angkorian era. Today you’ll have your work cut out for you finding the temples as they’re cocooned within deep forest. The complex spans over 35 square kilometres, with the buildings covered in 2,000 square metres of incredibly intricate carvings. Keep a look out for the bas-reliefs of the Avalokiteshvara (Buddhist deities) on the southern part of the temple’s western ramparts.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of an Indiana Jones type, arm yourself with a map, compass, insect repellent, sunscreen and plenty of water for the trek to Banteay Chhmar. You can hop on a moto (motorcycle taxi) from Sisophon or hire a local guide to take you around the complex if you prefer.
One of the things we love best about Banteay Chhmar is the local homestay programme. For a small fee, you can book an overnight stay combined with a temple tour, staying with a local family and experiencing a real taste of Cambodian life.
While you’re in the town, trek to Phnom Bak, an old government lookout tower, for some great photo opportunities. Or explore the old abandoned Sisophon Station with its decaying French art deco architecture. On sunny days, get out of town and head for the village of Banteay Neang where you’ll find a large golden Buddha concealed at the top of the mountain.
Banteay Chhmar is one of the least-visited destinations in Cambodia, and we want to keep it that way! We love its serene, laid-back atmosphere and hidden location, which ensures it’s never packed with tourists at sunrise or sunset. Only the most adventurous, intrepid travellers will visit Banteay Chhmar.
Plan your trip to Banteay Chhmar today.