Ak Yum temple is historically important because it is one of the earliest known examples of Khmer architecture and thought to be the first built in the “Temple Mountain” style.
Nowadays, AK Yum lays in ruins and is rarely visited by tourists as there isn’t much left to see.
Often visitors will also visit West Baray on the same tour because Ak Yum is located on the shore of West Baray. You can enjoy looking around the temple ruins, then relax in a hammock, eat some BBQ and go for a swim.
This area is very popular with both Cambodian and foreign visitors.
Unknown, thought to be late 7th or early 8th century
Jayavarman I (unconfirmed)
15 - 30 minutes
Ak Yum is located on the south west side of West Baray. Head out on National Road 6 towards Battambang for around 7 kilometres.
Turn right onto the road for West Baray and then left just before you reach the reservoir and follow the road for around 1km.
There are is only a small sign pointing the way and it’s easy to drive past the site. If you get to a parking area next to where visitors sit in huts on the water front, then you’ve gone too far.
As Ak Yum is only around 11km from Siem Reap, there are many transport options available. Tuk tuks will have no problem reaching the temple and it’s also possible to cycle there. There is good access for taxis and minivans but buses would struggle.
However, the temple is a very obscure temple and not often visited, so many local drivers may not know where the site is located.
Siem Reap: 11km
Angkor Wat: 13km
Angkor Silk Farm: 7.3km
West Baray: 100m
Ak Yum is now just a small pile of stones and doesn’t attract many visitors. Moreover, you will only want to explore and take photos of the site for a short time, around 15-30 minute.
The temple also doesn’t require a temple pass so most people will stop to see it on their way to something else in the area such as West Baray. All tour guides and drivers will be able to take you to the site or you can even make your own way there from Siem Reap town.
Most visitors to Ak Yum temple will stay in Siem Reap town. Ak Yum is only 11km away from the town center and easily reached in around 20-30 minutes.
Siem Reap has a range of accommodation options available including guest houses, hostels, homestays, resorts, and big hotels. You’ll definitely find something within your taste and budget in town.
Why Visit Ak Yum?
Although there isn’t much to see at Ak Yum, you might still want to visit. It has historical significance because it was the first temple built during the Angkor empire. It mostly lays in ruins today and there isn’t much to see.
It’s located right next to West Baray, so you probably wouldn’t come just to see Ak Yum, but you can stop by when visiting the baray.
Finally, it’s the only temple which doesn’t require an Angkor Pass to visit.
It’s not known who built Ak Yum temple, but one inscription contains the year 674 AD which would have been King Jayavarman I. It’s thought the construction of the temple was extended in the 9th century, by King Jayavarman II.
In the 11th Century, the West Baray reservoir was built and Ak Yum temple was partially submerged by a dike in the southern side. In 1932, Ak Yum was excavated by George Trouvé, a French Archaeologist. Since this time, the site has been left to ruins and is rarely visited.
Layout and Design
For serious enthusiasts, Prasat Ak Yum is a must-see temple because it was the first temple to be built in the “Temple Mountain” style.
Many Khmer temples have adopted a similar style such as Bakheng, Baphuon, and Angkor Wat. There are many stones with inscriptions which have been found dated from the 7th to the 11th centuries. One inscription shows that Ak Yum was dedicated to Gambhiresvara who is the “God of the Depths”.
There is a single chamber sanctuary built from brick which researchers believe was constructed in the 8th century. In the 9th century, it’s believed that King Jayavarman II remade a larger tiered pyramid structure with a base of around 100m square.
Today, there isn’t much left to see in the area and only a few small pieces of the temple remain. A number of bronze statues have been found here. Both Hindu and Buddhist statues have been found depicting various gods.
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