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World Heritage Site

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Sambor Prei Kuk

Sambor Prei Kuk
Photo provided by Ian Cade

The Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk is an archaeological site of the Pre-Angkorean period.

The site correspondends with Ishanapura, the capital city of the Chenla Empire that flourished in the late 6th and early 7th centuries CE.

A particular feature are its octagonal shaped temples, the oldest of its kind in South-East Asia.

Map of Sambor Prei Kuk


  • Cultural

Community Reviews

Boj Philippines 19-May-17

Sambor Prei Kuk by Boj Capati

From Phnom Penh, it is possible to do a day trip to Sambor Prei Kuk, a beautiful pre-Angkorian temple complex in the middle of the forest. The Kampong Thom local tourism office actively encourages tourists to arrange visits with local communities - from tuk-tuk rides, tour guide service and site interpretation.

According to my guide, Sambor (many) Prei (forest) Kuk (temples), means, many temples inside the forest. Indeed, SPK is situated in a distinct landscape, different from the vast plain of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, or the sacred cliff of Prasat Preah Vihear. The forest appears to be an integral element of the temple complex, no wonder the site is nominated as a cultural landscape

Ian Cade England 16-Nov-10

Sambor Prei Kuk by Ian Cade

This is the best preserved pre-Angkorian archaeological site in Cambodia and if all goes to plan then this should be Cambodia's next World Heritage Site.

The ruins here comprise three different temple complexes all within easy walking distance of each other. They are set among a nice sandy forest that gives the site a cool and relaxing atmosphere. The ruins are different enough from those at Angkor to warrant a visit and also provide a good look at pre-Angkorian styles or art and architecture. The temples are mostly brick built and look more like hollow pyramids, the distinctive poses of the statues of this period are shown in reproductions as the originals are now in museums. There is also a fair bit of bomb damage to some of the temples, from the US bombing raids and also from the civil war. There are also several temples that have been completely taken over by trees, the gatehouse at the final complex is now more tree than brick.

The site is located to the north of Kompong Thom. I managed to visit in a short day trip from Siem Reap. It was very easy to get a moto from the junction just before Kompong Thom out to the site and to bring me back. The route out there was very enjoyable, going through some nice villages and between some lovely paddy fields.

The temples here were sufficiently different from those at Angkor to warrant a visit. There is a nice ambiance to the site and it is a good way of seeing something more of Cambodia's earlier heritage.

[Site 7 Experience 7]

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Site Info

Full name: Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk

Unesco ID: 1532

Inscribed: 2017

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 2   3   6  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2017 - Inscribed 


The site has 1 locations.

  • Sambor Prei Kuk


The site has 8 connections.



  • Octagons: A particular feature of the North and South Groups is the octagonal shaped temple (AB ev)


  • Damaged in War since WWII: After the Lon Nol's coup d'├ętat to Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970, US President Richard Nixon ordered a secret bombing of Cambodia to fight the Khmer Rouge guerrillas and any influence of North Vietnam in the country. The US aircraft bombed positions inside the archaeological site, causing craters near the temples, while the guerrillas left several mines on the land that were cleared only in 2008. (wiki)


  • Khmer Empire: the capital city of the first empire and first Khmer State (AB ev)

Religion and Belief


  • Built in the 6th century: the capital city of the first empire and first Khmer State in the late 6th and early 7th centuries CE (AB ev)


World Heritage Process