Koh Ker temples is a remote archaeological site in northern Cambodia.

Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Koh Ker temples is a very jungle filled region that is sparsely populated.

Koh Ker temples , Siem Reap, Cambodia Koh Ker temples , Siem Reap, Cambodia

Koh Ker temples is the modern name for an important city of the Khmer empire.

Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Elephant in Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap.

Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Koh Ker temples was briefly the capital of the whole empire (928–944 AD).

Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Koh Ker temples was once an ancient capital of Cambodia.

Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Koh Ker temples faces west toward Angkor city.

Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia Koh Ker temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Angkor Civilization has left invaluable heritages for the Kingdom of Cambodia including Angkor Wat or Angkor Thom in Siem Reap. However, few people know that Angkor has still another former capital called Koh Ker temples. Although Khmer Empire moved the capital as soon as Koh Ker had been constructed, a lot of historical sites still exist until now.

Koh Ker is a very jungle filled region that is sparsely populated. It is located in the territory of Preah Vihear Province, 140km northeast of Siem Reap. It used to be the capital of Angkor Dynasty under the reign of King Jayavarman IV, built within 23 years (921-944 AD). The main structure is Prasat Thom Temple which lies majestically amidst the old jungle. With unique architecture, this temple is dubbed “The pyramid of Angkor Civilization”.

The fortress in the middle of the temple is built in a totally different way compared to that of Angkor. It is in the shape of a pyramid with steep stones on top. According to old documents, King Jayavarman IV constructed it as a place to train the military and worship gods. Walls surrounding Koh Ker are also very thick and there is only one entrance to avoid attacks.

Prasat Thom Temple is considered the most unique structure with 54 same towers. Many people call it “the way to the heaven” with erecting small steps. Standing on top of the tower, tourists can see Prasat Preah Vihear Mountain or Kulen Hills on the far side.

From Siem Reap, visitors can choose tuk-tuk to travel to Koh Ker. It takes them about 3 hours by tuk tuk or 1 hour and a half by car to reach this landmark. Koh Ker is said to be an ideal destination for those who love discovering nature and spiritual history.

Koh Ker used to be the cultural center of Angkor Civilization, but it was quite ill-fated. Right after it had been completed, King Jayavarman IV decided to move the capital to another place. The reason might be the unfavorable factors of geological location of Koh Ker. Like many other historical sites in Cambodia, Koh Ker was situated in the old forest thousands of years ago. It has been discovered by archeologists and served as a tourist spot since 2003. After being forgotten in over 1,000 years, it now becomes a unique wonder of Khmer architecture. Not too crowded and noisy, Koh Ker has only a few of retail huts. The life of locals is simple, peaceful and isolated from the other relics.

Coming to Koh Ker, tourists will feel the antiquity through walls which are ruined, covered in dust and moss. Though the war and nature have damaged it a lot, every architectural feature of remnants still makes us admire the talent of old artists. Prasat Thom Temple, the main building in Koh Ker, has always been in the government’s attempt to preserve. But the decay of Koh Ker is still evident with ruinous constructions. The green space surrounding the temple is really beautiful with old trees, bright sunshine and deep green grass. Choosing a slab to sit on and admiring the romantic scenery of the former capital in every corner of temples will be unforgettable experiences when you visit Koh Ker.

Because of being forgotten in nearly a millennium amidst the jungle, Koh Ker is one of the farthest and hardest to approach temples. Nevertheless, these barriers can’t prevent the curiosity and eagerness of tourists to explore this historical former capital. The sense of tranquility, quietness and especially sadness evoked from the ruinous architectures in Koh Ker will be something extremely impressive in your journey to Cambodia. Enjoy it!

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