Beautiful, peaceful and covered in astonishingly intricate bas-reliefs, Banteay Chhmar is one of the most impressive remote temple complexes beyond the Angkor area. It was constructed by Cambodia’s most prolific builder, Jayavarman VII (r 1181–1219), on the site of a 9th-century temple. The Global Heritage Fund (www.globalheritagefund.org) is assisting with conservation efforts here, and it is now a top candidate for Unesco World Heritage Site status.
Next to the ruins, Banteay Chhmar village is part of a worthwhile community-based tourism (CBT) scheme offering homestays, activities and guides for temple tours to assist with community development in the area. 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, this is is a great program. All activities can be booked through the CBT Office.