Located in North-Western Cambodia, Banteay Chhmar is a temple complex dating from the Angkorian era. It was built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII and it’s one of the most mysterious treasures of Cambodia. Banteay Chhmar is considered a wilder Angkor Wat. Here, you have to pursue your own adventure through the jungle and rough terrain to discover it. Visited by less than 1000 tourists per year, this temple complex offers an enchanting experience and a great set for photos. The Banteay Chhmar Community-Based Tourism (CBT) made the site more accessible to tourists by providing means of transportation, accommodation, food and tour guides in English.

Highlights

  • Banteay Chhmar Temple – This is one of the most important and mysterious temples in Cambodia, dating from the Angkor epoch. The bas-reliefs on its walls are evoking moments in the Khmer life in time of peace and war. Though most of the construction has collapsed, what remains is still very impressive. The representation of Avalokiteśvara, the embodiment of all of Buddha’s emotions, is the highlight of the temple.
  • Satellite Temples
    Ta Prohm – This is the closest one from the main temple. Its highlight is a tower build in a Bayon fashion right in the front.
    Samnang Tasok Temple – Farther on, this temple also features towers in the same Bayon architectural style and a dramatic look given by the vines that cover it.
    Chinchem Trey Temple -The last satellite temple, within 1 km from Samnang Tasok Temple, resembles a fortress. During the rainy season, getting to it may become problematic due to the unpaved roads.
  • Meborn Barray – This is a former reservoir, built at the same time with the Banteay Chhmar Temple in order to provide the locals with water. This is now a protected area and hosts a number of bird species. A temple lies in the middle of the barray; when it doesn’t rain, visitors can access it.
  • Pol Pot Baray – The name of this barray speaks for itself – it was built during the Pol Pot regime through forced labour. Nowadays, the Pol Pot Barray keeps its purpose and provides water to the inhabitants of the area.

banteay-chhmar-post

Prices

Adults $5
Children < 12 yrs. Free

The ticket covers the entrance in the Banteay Chhmar temple and the other satellite temples and attractions. Tour guides are available and cost $10 for a group of 5 people.

Tips

  • Rent a Bike  – It’s easy to get around Banteay Chhmar by bike, but it’s even easier if you rent a bike from the CBT for $1.5 per day.
  • Ask a Tour Guide – Tour guides are not only useful for giving you the story behind the temples, but also for helping you find a place to stay and a suitable means of transportation.
  • Bring Cash – The nearest ATM is in Sisophon. At the temple you can pay in US dollars, Khmer Riel or Thai Baht.
  • Where to Eat – You can grab a bite at local restaurants in the area serving traditional food or at the market stalls. A meal can cost you from $0.5 to $4. Since they start closing at 5pm, you can ask them to prepare something for you earlier in the day and get your food later on.
  • Where to Sleep – The 8 CBT Homestays and 19 rooms are your only option for accommodation in the area. They are clean and well equipped. However, electricity is only available between 6pm and 11pm. Homestays will cost you $7/night. Find out more about the homestaying program here.

Transport

  • Taxi (Best Option) – You can take a taxi from Sisophon – the capital of the  Banteay Meanchey province – from Phasa Thmei, on Highway 56. Look for the logo of the Banteay Chhmar Community-Based Tourism (CBT) on the cars. Expect the road to be a bit rough. If you share the taxi with 5 other people, the ride will cost you $5. If you prefer a private taxi, it will cost you $25. Reserve an hour for the ride.
  • Self-drive moto – You can rent a moto to drive yourself in Sisphon, at the Golden Crown Guesthouse. It will cost you $10/day.
  • Moto with driver – If you prefer a moto with a driver, it will cost you around $12.
  • Tuk-tuk – You can take the tuk-tuk from Sisphon for $30/day.

History

The Banteay Chhmar temple was constructed at the end of the 12th century – beginning of the 13th century during the reign of Jayavarman VII. The face of one of the king’s sons was craved on one of the temple’s shrines, now residing in the National Museum. Initially, Banteay Chhmar was comparable in size with Angkor Wat. Experts revealed that the building of the temple took around 30 years and the workforce of 20,000 men.

World Heritage Site

Banteay Chhmar is on the World Heritage List by UNESCO as one of the most captivating attractions of Southeast Asia. The Global Heritage Fund is also conducting the restoration process at the temple complex.

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