Must see attractions in Northwestern Cambodia

  • Top ChoiceSights in Northwestern Cambodia

    Banteay Chhmar

    Beautiful, peaceful and covered in astonishingly intricate bas-reliefs, Banteay Chhmar is one of the most impressive temple complexes beyond the Angkor area. About a two-hour drive from Siem Reap, these remote ruins are also the site of a superb community-based homestay and tourism program. If you're looking for an opportunity to delve into Cambodian rural life and spend some quality time amid a temple complex far from the crowds, you could hardly find a more perfect spot.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Preah Vihear Province

    Prasat Preah Vihear

    The most dramatically situated of all Angkorian monuments, Prasat Preah Vihear sprawls along a clifftop near the Thai border, with breathtaking views of lowland Cambodia 550m below. An important place of pilgrimage for millennia, the temple was built by a succession of seven Khmer monarchs, beginning with Yasovarman I (r 889–910) and ending with Suryavarman II (r 1112–52). Like other temple-mountains from this period, it was designed to represent Mt Meru and dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva.

  • Sights in Kompong Thom Province

    Sambor Prei Kuk

    Cambodia’s most impressive group of pre-Angkorian monuments, Sambor Prei Kuk encompasses more than 100 mainly brick temples scattered through the forest, among them some of the oldest structures in the country. The attraction was recently named Cambodia's third Unesco World Heritage site. A 40-minute drive from Kompong Thom, the area has a serene and soothing atmosphere, with the sandy trails between temples looping through the shady forest. A community-based tourism initiative employs local guides, organises activities and sets up homestays.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Preah Vihear Province

    Preah Khan of Kompong Svay

    For tantalising lost-world ambience, this remote temple complex about 90km south of Preah Vihear City can't be beaten. It's wrapped by vines and trees, and thanks to its back-of-beyond location, the site is astonishingly peaceful. You'll very likely be the only visitor, although you’ll need private transport to get here. Preah Khan of Kompong Svay is the largest temple enclosure constructed during the Angkorian period, quite a feat when you consider the competition.

  • Sights in Battambang Province

    Phnom Sampeau

    This fabled limestone outcrop 12km southwest of Battambang along NH57 (towards Pailin) is known for its gorgeous views and mesmerising display of bats, which pour out of a massive cave in its cliff face. Access to the summit is via a cement road or – if you're in need of a workout – a steep staircase. The road is too steep for remorks. Moto drivers hang out near the base of the hill and can whisk you up and back for US$4.

  • Sights in Battambang

    Wat Kor Village

    About 2km south of central Battambang, the village of Wat Kor is centred around the temple of the same name. It's a great place to wander, especially late in the afternoon when the opposite (east) bank of the Sangker River is bathed in amber tones by the sinking sun. Picturesque bridges span the river, the spires of Wat Kor glow bright platinum and Khmer village life is on full display.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kompong Chhnang

    Chong Kos Floating Village

    Much less visited than other floating villages near Siem Reap, the Tonlé Sap River hamlet of Chong Kos is a Cambodian village of colourful wooden houses, with tiny terraces strung with hammocks, all built on rickety DIY pontoons. To fully explore the village, hire a wooden boat (with captain) at Kompong Chhnang dock (US$10 per hour, up to three people) to paddle you through this fully buoyant town, complete with shops, satellite TV and mobile vegetable vendors.

  • Sights in Battambang Province

    Prasat Phnom Banan Winery

    Midway between Battambang and Prasat Banan, in an area known for its production of chilli peppers (harvested from October to January), Cambodia’s only winery grows Shiraz grapes to make reds. It tastes unlike most wine you’ve ever encountered, but is actually quite earthy and complex.

  • Sights in Preah Vihear Province

    Veal Krous Vulture Feeding Station

    In order to save three critically endangered species – the white-rumped, slender-billed and red-headed vultures – the Wildlife Conservation Society (www.wcs.org) set up a ‘vulture restaurant’ in the village of Dong Plet, northeast of Chaeb on the edge of the Preah Vihear Protected Forest. A cow carcass is placed in a field, and visitors waiting in a nearby bird hide watch as these incredibly rare vultures move in to devour the carrion. Visits are offered by Siem Reap–based Sam Veasna Center.

  • Sights in Battambang Province

    Prasat Banan

    It's a 358-stone-step climb up Phnom Banan to reach Prasat Banan, but the incredible views across surrounding countryside from the top are worth it. Udayadityavarman II, son of Suryavarman I, built Prasat Banan in the 11th century; some locals claim the five-tower layout here was the inspiration for Angkor Wat, although this seems optimistic. There are impressive carved lintels above the doorways to each of the towers and bas-reliefs on the upper parts of the central tower.

  • Sights in Battambang Province

    Wat Ek Phnom

    Hidden behind a colourful modern pagoda and a gargantuan Buddha statue is this atmospheric, partly collapsed 11th-century temple. Wat Ek Phnom measures 52m by 49m and is surrounded by the remains of a laterite wall and an ancient baray (reservoir). A lintel showing the Churning of the Ocean of Milk can be seen above the eastern entrance to the central temple, whose upper flanks hold some fine bas-reliefs. It's about 10km north of central Battambang.

  • Sights in Preah Vihear Province

    Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary

    One of the last places on earth where you can see Cambodia’s national bird, the critically endangered giant ibis. Trips here are run by the Siem Reap–based Sam Veasna Center. Within the sanctuary, the village of Tmatboey has become an ecotourism destination. It provides residents with an education and income, incentivising them to do everything possible to protect the ibis.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Preah Khan of Kompong Svay

    Preah Khan Main Temple

    The main temple is surrounded by a (now dry) moat similar to the one around Angkor Thom. Once through the grand gateway, the trail meanders past a dharmasala (pilgrim's rest house) and through another crumbling pavilion to the central temple area of half-toppled prang (temple towers), entangled with trees and overgrown by forest.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Battambang

    Romcheik 5 Artspace

    Expanded from a workshop into a bona fide gallery in 2015, this impressive space has a permanent collection upstairs displaying the edgy, contemporary works of its four founders, who in their youth were expelled from Thailand and forced to work as child labourers, before being rescued by an NGO and encouraged to express themselves through art. The results are awe-inspiring.

  • Sights in Sambor Prei Kuk

    Prasat Yeai Poeun

    Prasat Yeai Poeun is arguably the most atmospheric of Sambor Prei Kuk's three temple groups, as it feels lost in the forest. The eastern gateway is being both held up and torn asunder by an ancient tree, the bricks interwoven with the tree’s extensive, probing roots. A truly massive tree shades the western gate.

  • Sights in Preah Khan of Kompong Svay

    Prasat Preah Stung

    About 2km west of Preah Khan's baray stands Prasat Preah Stung (known to locals as Prasat Muk Buon or Temple of the Four Faces). It's particularly memorable because its central tower (held up by bamboo scaffolding) is adorned with four enigmatic, Bayon-style faces of Avalokiteshvara.

  • Sights in Sambor Prei Kuk

    Prasat Tor

    The largest of the Sambor Prei Kuk temple complexes, Prasat Tor has excellent examples of Chenla carving in the form of two large, elaborately coiffed stone lions. It also has a fine, rectangular pond, Srah Neang Pov.

  • Sights in Kompong Thom Province

    Phnom Santuk

    Its forest-cloaked summit adorned with Buddha images and a series of pagodas, this holy temple mountain (207m) 15km south of Kompong Thom is a popular site of Buddhist pilgrimage. To reach the top, huff up 809 stairs – with the upper staircase home to troops of animated macaques – or wimp out and take the paved 2.5km road. Santuk hosts an extraordinary ensemble of colourful wats and stupas, a kaleidoscopic mishmash of old and new Buddhist statuary and monuments.

  • Sights in Kompong Thom Province

    Santuk Silk Farm

    Santuk Silk Farm is one of the few places in Cambodia where you can see the entire process of silk production, starting with the seven-week life cycle of the silkworm. The farm employs 18 locals, mostly women, as artisan weavers; you can watch them weave scarves (US$20 to US$35) and other items. The entrance is 200m north of the Phnom Santuk entrance, on the opposite (west) side of NH6.

  • Sights in Battambang

    Wat Somrong Knong

    About 4km north of Battambang, Wat Somrong Knong was built in the 19th century on the site of a pre-Angkorian temple complex. The Khmer Rouge used the temple grounds as a prison, and it's believed that around 10,000 people were executed here. The complex today houses the gorgeous main pagoda and a mishmash of ancient ruins, glittery modern structures and memorials to those who perished here.