Wat Hanchey, a Buddhist temple near Kampong Cham city, Cambodia.

© Cesare Palma/Shutterstock

Wat Hanchey

Eastern Cambodia

This hilltop pagoda was an important centre of worship during the Chenla (pre-Angkorian) period, when, as today, it offered some of the best Mekong views in Cambodia. The foundations of several 8th-century structures, some of them destroyed by American bombs, are scattered around the compound, along with a clutch of bizarre fruit and animal statues. It's 20km north of Kompong Cham; the smooth trip out here takes about 30 minutes on a motorbike.

The highlight is a remarkable Chenla-era brick sanctuary with well-preserved inscriptions in ancient Sanskrit on the doorframe. A hole in the roof lets in a lone shaft of light. The sanctuary sits in front of a large, contemporary wat. During the Chenla empire, this may have been an important transit stop on journeys between the ancient cities of Thala Boravit (near Stung Treng to the north) and Angkor Borei (near Takeo to the south).

Cycling out here through the pretty riverbank villages is a good way to pass half a day.

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