Prasat Thom at Koh Ker - Preah Vihear province

Ancient Khmer City of Koh Ker

Constructed when: 10th century (capitol of Khmer Empire from 928 to 944)
Constructed by: King Jayavarman IV - Religion: Hindu - Architectural style: Koh Ker
Location: 120 kilometers from Siem Reap

Koh Ker is an Angkorian site in northern Cambodia. 100 km northeast of Angkor itself, it was briefly the capital of the Khmer empire between 928 and 944 under king Jayavarman IV and his son Hasavarman II.After the Khmer empire had been established in the Angkor area (Roluos), Jayavarman IV moved the capital in 928 almost 100km northeast to Koh Ker. Here a vast number of temples were built under his reign, until his successor returned to the Angkor area about twenty years later.

The Koh Ker site is dominated by Prasat Thom, a 30 meter tall temple mountain raising high above the plain and the surrounding forest. Great views await the visitor at the end of an adventurous climb. Garuda, carved into the stone blocks, still guard the very top, although they are partially covered now.

Across the site of Koh Ker there are many prasat or tower sanctuaries. A couple still feature an enormous linga on a yoni that provides space for several people. The outlet for the water that was sanctified by running it over the linga can be seen in the outside wall of one of them. In other cases, three prasat stand next to each other, dedicated to Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Most of them are surrounded by libraries and enclosures, many also had moats. At that time, the roofs were still made of wood. Today, only the holes for the beams remain in the stone structures.

The site is still 3 hours away from Siem Reap, the area has been demined only recently and basic visitors' facilities are just being built. This makes Koh Ker very attractive for anyone who would like to experience lonely temples partially overgrown by the forest and inhabited only by birds, calling to each other from the trees above.

What to see:

The ancient Khmer city is in a distant jungle location with up to a hundred ruined temples including a huge stepped pyramid; the largest in the region. More ancient temples are being found in the jungle; so there is a true sense of discovery here. Many of the temples were built in brick using a mortar made from tree sap. It is quite remarkable how well they have stood up to the test of time

The Entry fee is $10 payable at the booth near the entrance to Beng Mealea temple 60 km to the south west. If you are heading from Tbeang Meanchey and Preah Vihear there is no means if getting a ticket … Yet but no doubt a facility will be set up in the not too distant future.

There are temples in abundance , most are brick built and all are in a picturesque state of ruin with many being overgrown. The Prang is the largest structure here, it is a 7 stepped pyramid approx 40metres high the views from the top encompass a lonely landscape of forest with the distant Dangrek Mountains on the Thai Border to the north and the Koulen Mountain Range 70 km to the south. Prasat Thom is the name of the temple that lies directly at the bottom of the Prang and one must negotiate this to gain entrance to the pyramid enclosure. In 2007 Prasat Thom was cleared of vegetation and the moats cleaned out by villagers working for the APSARA Authority that now manages the site. Tickets are sold by the Kham Samet Company that built the road to Koh Ker.

If you want to stay over night there is a simple guest house at the village of Sray Young 1 km to the south. Camping is not permitted in the temple areas.

Neang Khmau