Bakong Temple is one of the four temples which form part of the Roluos Group of Temples. The other temples in the group include Lolei, Preah Ko and Prasat Monti. This group of temples predate Angkor Wat by a few centuries.
Bakong was built in the latter part of the 9th century and was the state temple for King Indravarman I. It was located in middle of what was then the first capital city of the Khmer empire – Hariharalaya.
Located only around 15km from Siem Reap town, Bakong is a popular destination for tourists. Although not as busy as the main temples at Angkor, it can still get quite busy.
The relatively short distance, make it a popular destination for visitors who want to explore the countryside and see the temples at the same time.
881 AD (9th Century)
Anytime, but morning is best.
45 - 60 minutes
Bakong Temple is located about 15km outside of Siem Reap along National Road 6 towards Phnom Penh.
There are two options for getting to Bakong. The quickest route is to head out of Siem Reap along Road 6 towards Phnom Penh. Keep going for around 15km and turn right when you reach Bakong Village, just before the Bakong Commune Hall. Most tuk tuks and taxi drivers will prefer this route as it is the most direct way to get to the temple.
Alternatively, you can take the back streets south out of Siem Reap towards the Tonle Sap. Then turn left and head towards Bakong Commune. This way is much further, but if you’re cycling and want to avoid the main road, this is a more preferable route to take.
There are many transport options available to visit this temple. It only takes around 20 – 30 minutes to reach by tuk tuk or taxi. For larger groups, minivans, minibuses, and buses are available. It’s also possible to cycle to Bakong.
Siem Reap: 14.8km
Angkor Wat: 20km
Preah Ko: 1.4km
Tours of Bakong temple generally incorporate the other temples in Roluos. In most cases, these temples are combined with other temples and attractions. Popular options on this tour include Beng Mealea or the floating villages.
It’s possible to spend half a day exploring the temples here. There are small restaurants around where you can stop for lunch. Many guests like to combine exploring the temples here with a cycle or quad bike ride in the Cambodian countryside.
There are a few options if you want to stay in Bakong. There are some small guesthouses and homestays. However, other than visiting the temples, there isn’t much to do in Bakong and most tourists will stay in accommodation in Siem Reap.
As a major tourist hub, Siem Reap has all kinds of accommodation available from small guest houses to large five-star resorts. You’re bound to find something within your price range in Siem Reap town.
If you’re looking for a more rural experience, you might want to consider a home stay in the area. You can stay in traditional Khmer homes and experience the local life.
Why Visit Bakong?
Bakong is a beautiful temple which predates Angkor Wat by a few hundred years. It’s also not as busy as the main temples at Angkor Wat, so you can explore in relative peace and quiet.
Bakong was constructed by the successors to jayavarman II and completed during the reign of Indravarman I in 881 AD. It was the first large sandstone temple mountain and was the official state temple of Indravarman I.
However, by the end of the 9th century, the capital was moved from Hariharalaya to Yasodharapura. Bakheng Temple was the new state temple for Yasovarman I, the son of Indravarman I.
Bakong Temple did maintain significance throughout the Khmer Empire as the temple was extended by subsequent kings in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Layout and Design
Bakong was the first temple mountain constructed from sandstone. The site is 900 x 700m and there are three enclosures and two moats.
Most of the structures for the outer enclosure don’t exist today and only part of the moat is still visible.
The main access is through the second enclosure where you can see an entry tower and a long causeway with large seven-headed serpents. There are also some brick buildings around.
Towards the end of the causeway, there are two sandstone structures on either side. It is thought that these may have been used as stores or libraries.
There are also some towers which can be explored and still contain many decorative features.
The pyramid part of the temple was built on five levels and at the bottom it measures 65 x 67m. It was reconstructed in the 1930s. A tower was added later in the 12th century.
Although the pyramid would have been covered in ornate carvings, very few exist today. There is a partial scene of what appears to be asuras in battle. There are also large stone statues of elephants and lions which act as guardians of the temple.
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