• Name: Preah Khan Temple

  • Meaning: Sacred Sword

  • Location: Angkor Archaeological Park, North of Siem Reap town, Cambodia.

  • Year of Construction: 1191 (12th century)

  • Architectural Style: Originally Buddhist, it later transformed into a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Lokesvaravara.

  • Origin: Preah Khan stands on the grounds where Jayavarman VII achieved victory over the Chams in 1191. Intriguingly, the current name ( translating to "holy sword") is derived from its original meaning — Nagara Jayasri, representing the "holy city of victory."

King Jayavarman VII constructed Preah Khan as a tribute to his father. He also built the Ta Prohm Temple in reverence for his mother.

  • Structure: The temple complex is a marvel of intricate, unique, and endlessly intertwining architectural structures. Surrounded by seemingly infinite layers of symmetry, the site includes the Firehouse, Hall of the Dancers, Double-story Granary, Library, Chapel, Central Sanctuary, and several smaller temples within the area.

  • Map: Inscriptions on the walls indicate that this was once home to over 90,000 residents. This temple complex also served as a royal city, complete with living quarters for monks, scholars, and workers, along with areas designated for purposes like hospitals and libraries.

Preah Khan Temple map

Preah Khan campus

1. The East Garuda Gate and bridge

2. Outer wall

3. The South Garuda Gate

4. The West Garuda Gate

5. The North Garuda Gate

6. Moat

7. Jayatataka Baray (reservoir)

8. Temple proper

9. Firehouse

Preah Khan Temple map

Preah Khan Temple main structure map

1. Eastern cruciform terrace

2. East Gopula

3. Hall of the dancers

4. Double-story granary

5. Library

6. North temple

7. West Temple

8. West Gopura

9. Chapel

10. South Temple

11. Central Sanctuary

12 Special Features of Preah Khan

Despite being a partially ruined site today, Preah Khan Temple in Cambodia still exudes exquisite charm, blending elements of Buddhism, Hinduism, history, architecture, and landscapes.

Preah Khan Temple

What is special about Preah Khan Temple Siem Reap?

  1. Size: Preah Khan is one of the largest temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park, covering an area of over 56 hectares.

  2. Bayon’s faces: Bayon is the most famous temple in Angkor Thom. It features iconic smiling faces looking in four directions. What few know is that these Bayon faces also grace Preah Khan and Banteay Chhmar. This is the characteristic of constructions undertaken by King Jayavarman VII.

  3. Moat: The temple is surrounded by a large moat. You will walk across a bridge to cross this moat and enter the temple.

  4. Garuda Gateways: The four main gateways to the temple are adorned with giant Garuda statues, which are mythical bird-like creatures that are revered in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.

  5. Central Sanctuary: The central sanctuary of the temple is a two-story pavilion that was once home to a bronze statue of Lokeshvara, the Buddhist Bodhisattva of compassion.

  6. Hall of Dancers: The Hall of Dancers is a large rectangular hall with intricate bas-relief carvings that depict apsara dancers, musicians, and other figures.

  7. Stele: The Preah Khan stele is a large stone carving that contains a wealth of information about the history of the temple and the Khmer Empire.

  8. Galleries: The temple complex is filled with a maze of galleries and corridors, many of which are decorated with bas-relief carvings.

  9. Libraries: Preah Khan was once home to several libraries, which contained a vast collection of Buddhist and Hindu scriptures.

  10. “Lake of blood”: This name originates from the temple being the witness to thousands of deaths of Cham kings and Cham prisoners of war.

  11. Tree-covered courtyards: The temple complex is dotted with tree-covered courtyards, which create a peaceful and atmospheric setting.

  12. Jungle setting: Preah Khan is located in a remote jungle setting, which adds to its sense of mystery and wonder.

Explore Preah Khan Temple Siem Reap

I've prepared some instructions for you on how to explore and enjoy this temple:

Preah Khan Temple Cambodia

How to visit Preah Khan Temple Cambodia

Ticket & Time

The ticket price for entering Preah Khan Temple is included in the Angkor Archaeological Park ticket:

  • 1-day ticket 37 USD

  • 3-day ticket 62 USD

  • 7-day ticket 72 USD

You can buy tickets online or at the entrance. Please keep your ticket carefully if you plan to re-enter

  • Opening Hours: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm, except on Sundays.

  • Estimated Visiting Time: 1.5 - 2 hours.

The ideal time to visit Preah Khan Cambodia is during the dry season, from November to April. During this period, the weather is sunny and warm, with minimal rainfall.

How to get there

Even within the same temple complex, distances between temples can be considerable to walk. I recommend trying the following methods:

  • Tuk-tuk: This is the local means of transport in Cambodia and quite fun for you to enjoy the scenery. You can expect to pay around 0.5 USD for a 1 km tuk-tuk ride.

  • Bicycle: Riding a bike between the temples isn't a bad idea at all. You can find Angkor bike tour packages at reasonable prices or rent a bike yourself for around 2 - 5 USD per day.

  • Taxi or Car: This method is convenient and private. The cost of renting a car for a day is usually around 50 USD.

Tips to visit Preah Khan Temple

  • You can enter the temple from the West, North, and East gates, with the main route being between the East and West gates. 

  • The West gate features food stalls and restrooms. 

  • Don’t just follow a straight path. Take your time to explore the structures on both sides of the main axis.

  • As I mentioned, the temple complex combines various architectures and auxiliary areas. Alongside the main worship structures are symmetrical but intricately interwoven layouts, resembling a maze, combined with scattered stone blocks. You should also pay attention to the exits.

The temple's engulfed trees, defaced sculptures, and crumbling walls create an eerie ambiance around Preah Khan. Every detail accentuates its desolation. As I contemplate this site, an indescribable emotion wells up within me. It's a feeling of reverence for this temple, a relic from a bygone era of prosperity and spiritual richness.

Preah Khan cambodia

Preah Khan stands still after all those time

Preah Khan isn't a crowded temple due to its distant location from the main Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom complexes. However, if you have the time and an inclination to explore exceptional temples, Preah Khan is a worthwhile destination. 

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