Sambor Prei Kuk, a small temple complex, 3 hours from Siem Reap, 30 min north of Kampong Thom, Dates back to 7th century. With it’s red brick structures and forest location, this sanctuary offers a completely different environment to that of Angkor for photographers.
There are three groups of temples with varying degrees of deterioration. Structures are red brick with reliefs carved into their wall, similar to earlier temples in the Angkor park, s. One can only imagine how splendid they would have looked with decorative golden plastered walls in their prime. Some temples are wrapped in the most amazing strangling fig trees, only rivalled by that of Prasat Pram, Koh Ker. There are some mysterious western faces carved in Kda Ouk Temple. This temple was under reconstruction during my latest visit, January 2024.
- Prasat Daeum Chrei – Amazing roots.
The setting makes this group of temples different to those in Angkor. Surrounded by trees with meandering pathways offers a different challenge for photography. The main road through the temples still red dirt. Traffic creates a dust atmosphere adding to this mystic environment.
My visit was planned for late afternoon. This payed dividend with the setting sun, giving some splendid rays refracting in the dusty air. In my opinion, the winter months (Dec-Feb) are better for Sambor (different to that of Angkor, where rainy season is best) as there’s less foliage on the trees.
- Prasat Tao from Preying Rain Temple
For convenience we stayed a home stays near the temple complex. Only local food is available and accommodation basic. The people are friendly but have limited English. Alternatives from simple guest house to reasonable hotel with pool can be found in Kampong Thom, 30 min from the temple complex. There is now a 7 eleven on the main highway, which we opted for a snack breakfast and a good coffee, rather than local food in the village.
If you are a temple buff, then Sambor Prei Kuk has a lot to offer. It takes some effort to travel here from Siem Reap. For most, Angkor has it all however, this complex offers a different environment for photographers and escapes the crowds. As always best early or late in the day. Sambor Prei Kuk is conveniently placed for a stop over if travelling from Phnom Penh. Alternatively, If your travelling around the country, perhaps on a multi day photography workshop, then a stop here can offer some great rewards.
Ticket price on my last visit, $10 pp Jan 2024.
- Lens flare in the late afternoon light
- Amazing evening rays – Prasat Tao
- Stunning light