Koh Ker (pronounced ko-kaye) is one of the most remote and inaccessible temple complexes in northern Cambodia and set in the rich green jungle in Preah Vihear Province.
This is a quite tranquil and lovely site to explore with a lot of things to see on the Cambodia Adventure Tour. One of the great attractions is the ability to explore the temple complex while virtually no one else is there. To fully appreciate the complex and explore the 200 ruins in the region (spanning an area 20 km in diameter) it can help to spend at least one night in the local area.
Even though this site is no longer quite so spectacular because of past looting it is still a perfect site for the travellers wishing to have a genuine explorer adventure that is entirely undisturbed by bus loads of noisy tourists.
The opening of a toll road has put Koh Ker in a more accessible position and can be reached by road from Siem Reap with a travel distance of about 120 km.
The most interesting and best preserved of the monuments are reached by taking the relatively modern ring road. The principal temple in Koh Ker is Prasat Thom (also referred to as Prasat Kompeng). By climbing the staircase to the top, it is possible to get spectacular views, although this monument is open to a limited number of visitors. Prasat Pram is completely surrounded by overgrown jungle with tree roots draping the roof. One of the more picturesque temples is Prasat Banteay Peechean, while others are famous for lion and elephant sculptures such as the Prasat Damrei.
How to get there
Koh Ker is far from the major tourist foot-traffic and therefore there is no bus service to this part of northern Cambodia. The best method to arrive at the site is to use your own transport such as hiring a motorbike or a taxi for the journey which costs in the region of $80. Alternatively, a trip to Koh Ker can easily feature on the authentic Cambodian travel packages with an English-speaking guide to better know and appreciate the different structures and temples that you are exploring. Other than the main temple complex, there is relatively little else to see here except for the few stilted houses and school in the Koh Ker village which is approx. 1 km away.
With the dense overgrowth of the jungle, more ancient temples continue to be discovered in the region, so there is a perfect opportunity to learn about the unknown. Most of the structures were built using bricks with a tree sap based mortar that has done well to stand up to the test of time.
The trip to Koh Ker is relatively easy, but to get in a full day of sightseeing and the ability to return to Siem Reap the same day, it is essential to get a very early start.
Where to stay
If planning to stay over for the night on the Cambodia Package Holiday with the intention of making it a real adventure, there is a small guesthouse a short distance from the ticket booth ($10 fee) near the entrance.