Embarking on a Sacred Journey: Exploring Cambodia's Top 10 Must-Visit Temples

Cambodia's temples are not just relics of the past; they are living testaments to the kingdom's enduring spirit and cultural legacy


Abhijeet Sandilya

2/26/20245 min read

As the sun rises over the verdant landscapes of Cambodia, it reveals a land steeped in history, spirituality, and architectural marvels. Among the lush jungles and tranquil waters lie the remnants of a glorious past, manifested in the form of ancient temples that stand as testaments to the kingdom's rich cultural heritage. Let's delve deeper with Humans of Cambodia into the top 10 must-visit temples in Cambodia, each offering a unique blend of history, spirituality, and natural beauty.

Angkor Wat

Majestic Wonder

Angkor Wat, located in Siem Reap province, is Cambodia's most famous and majestic temple complex. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, it is a symbol of the Khmer Empire's power and grandeur. Covering an area of over 162 hectares, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. Its stunning architecture, intricate bas-reliefs, and towering spires make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination for travelers from around the globe.

Banteay Srei

Artistic Gem

Located near the main Angkor complex, Banteay Srei is a small but exquisitely carved temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Built in the 10th century, it is renowned for its intricate pink sandstone carvings, which are considered some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art. The temple's name, which means "Citadel of Women," is believed to refer to the delicacy of its carvings. Despite its small size, Banteay Srei's beauty and craftsmanship make it a must-visit destination for art lovers and history enthusiasts alike.

Neak Pean

Peaceful Island

Neak Pean, meaning "The Entwined Serpents," is a unique temple located on an artificial island in the center of a reservoir within the Angkor complex. Built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, it is dedicated to Buddhist and Hindu deities associated with water. The temple is accessed via a series of causeways and is surrounded by four smaller ponds representing the four great rivers of India. Neak Pean's tranquil setting and mystical atmosphere make it a serene retreat for visitors seeking spiritual solace amidst natural beauty.

Banteay Kdei

Quiet Retreat

Banteay Kdei, meaning "Citadel of Chambers," is a Buddhist temple located near Angkor Thom. Built in the late 12th to early 13th centuries, it served as a monastery during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. The temple's architecture is characterized by its Hall of Dancers, covered galleries, and intricate carvings of devatas (celestial nymphs). Banteay Kdei's peaceful ambiance and well-preserved structures make it a popular destination for those seeking to explore the quieter corners of the Angkor complex.

Ta Prohm

Nature's Embrace

Ta Prohm is perhaps one of the most iconic temples in Cambodia, known for its unique blend of ancient architecture and natural beauty. Built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, it was originally dedicated to the Buddhist deity Prajnaparamita. What sets Ta Prohm apart is its integration with the surrounding jungle, with massive tree roots and towering silk-cotton trees enveloping the temple's structures. The temple's atmospheric ruins and captivating scenery have made it a favorite among photographers and adventurers alike.


Faces of Wisdom

Bayon is a remarkable temple located within the Angkor Thom complex, the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer Empire. Built in the late 12th to early 13th centuries by King Jayavarman VII, it is known for its iconic stone faces that adorn its towers. These enigmatic faces, believed to represent Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara or King Jayavarman VII himself, exude a sense of serenity and wisdom. Bayon's labyrinthine layout and intricately carved bas-reliefs make it a fascinating destination for visitors seeking to unravel the mysteries of Khmer architecture and spirituality.

Preah Khan

Gateway to the Past

Preah Khan, meaning "Sacred Sword," is a sprawling temple complex located northeast of Angkor Thom. Built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, it served as a Buddhist monastery and educational institution. The temple's architecture is characterized by its cruciform layout, covered galleries, and intricately carved doorways. Preah Khan's maze-like corridors and hidden courtyards make it a captivating destination for explorers and history enthusiasts alike, offering a glimpse into Cambodia's storied past.

Wat Phnom

Hilltop Haven

Wat Phnom, meaning "Mountain Pagoda," is a historic temple located atop a small hill in the heart of Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Built in 1372, it is the tallest religious structure in the city and serves as a symbol of spiritual resilience and endurance. According to legend, the temple was founded by a wealthy widow named Penh, who discovered four bronze Buddha statues hidden inside a tree floating down the river. Wat Phnom's serene surroundings and panoramic views of the city make it a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking solace and reflection.

Prasart Phnom Ngok

Diverse Treasures

Prasart Phnom Ngok is a Hindu cave temple located in Pursat province, southwestern Cambodia. Dating back to the 8th century, it is one of the oldest Hindu temples in the country and showcases Cambodia's rich religious diversity. The temple's architecture is characterized by its imposing structures, intricate carvings, and hidden chambers. Prasart Phnom Ngok's remote location and historical significance make it a fascinating destination for travelers interested in exploring Cambodia's lesser-known archaeological sites.

Preah Vihear

Cliffside Wonder

Preah Vihear Temple is an ancient Hindu temple located atop a cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, on the border between Cambodia and Thailand. It is one of the UNESCO world heritage site, built during the reign of the Khmer Empire in the 11th and 12th centuries, it is renowned for its breathtaking views and architectural grandeur. The temple's strategic location and imposing structures make it a symbol of Cambodia's historical and cultural heritage. Preah Vihear Temple's remote setting and panoramic vistas make it a popular destination for adventurous travelers seeking to explore Cambodia's rugged landscapes and ancient wonders.

More from Humans of Cambodia