About Preah Vihear Temple
The Preah Vihear Temple is a sacred Angkorian site on the border between Cambodia and Thailand which is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Shiva. The site is heavily contested, with Thailand having been ordered to withdraw a military presence which has been stationed around the temple since 1954.
History of Preah Vihear Temple
The earliest history of the site of the Preah Vihear Temple can be traced to the ninth century AD, although the temple itself, which can be seen today, mostly dates to the eleventh century.
The Preah Vihear Temple was built by the leaders of the Khmer Empire, firstly by King Suryavarman I (1002-50) and then expanded upon by Suryavarman II (1113-50).
Made up of a series of sanctuaries known as “gopuras” and well-preserved elaborate stone buildings, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Preah Vihear Temple is its location, set high atop the Dângrêk Mountains.
However, this stunning location is also one of the reasons why the Preah Vihear Temple is less oft visited than other Angkorian sites like its younger counterpart, Angkor Wat. The ownership of the Preah Vihear Temple has long been a subject of contention between Cambodia and Thailand, and almost led to war.
Preah Vihear Temple today
Officially, the Preah Vihear Temple is based in Cambodia, although the site is more easily reached from Thailand. Soldiers from both sides are still posted at the site and it is still quite a volatile area. In 2008, UNESCO listed the Preah Vihear Temple, which was also a contentious issue.
Getting to Preah Vihear Temple
The easiest way to reach Preah Vihear is from the town of Sra’em, 30km south. Four hotels exist 1 km west of the town center (by the roundabout), on route 2625. Prices range from $7 to $12. Mototaxis can take you to Preah Vihear Temple from Sra’em for $15 per person, or $10 per person for groups of two or more.