Prasat Wat Athvea is located about 6km outside of Siem Reap in the opposite direction of Angkor Wat. Therefore, it’s often overlooked by most tourists and visitors to Siem Reap.
The Hindu temple was built in the 12th century around the same time as Angkor Wat. Today, there is an active Buddhist pagoda right next to the temple, so you’re likely to see a few monks in the area.
On the way into the temple complex, there is a small school and some rice paddy fields. The countryside surroundings are a pleasant experience. Added to the lack of visitors, it’s a very peaceful place to visit.
12th century AD
30 - 60 minutes
Wat Athvea is located around 6km to the south of Siem Reap town along the way to Phnom Krom and the Tonle Sap Lake. It’s next to Athvea Buddhist Pagoda and not far from the Siem Reap river.
To get to Wat Athvea, you need to head out south along Road 63 which takes you to the Tonle Sap. After you get about 1km past the junction with the Siem Reap Ring Road, then you need to turn right. Follow the road round and you’ll come to the back of Wat Athvea.
Alternatively, you can take the road past Phsar Krom. Head out on the BBU Road and then take the the fork to the left when you reach the small petrol station. Go past Phsar (Market) Krom on the right side and keep going straight for around 4km. Turn right and you’ll see Wat Athvea straight ahead of you.
Siem Reap: 4.6km
Angkor Wat: 12.3km
Phnom Krom: 6.9km
Chong Kneas Floating Village: 11.3km
As very few people venture out to Wat Athvea, it isn’t listed on many tours itineraries. However, it’s possible to combine it will a trip to Phnom Krom or Chong Kneas floating village. The distance is also not too far from Siem Reap and if you take the quieter route past Phsar Krom, it is a very pleasant bicycle ride and can easily fill up a whole morning or afternoon.
Wat Athvea is not inside the Angkor Archaeological Park and it is a little way outside of Siem Reap. However, there are a few places to stay in the area if you prefer the peace and quiet of the Cambodian countryside. One of the more popular places to stay nearby include Sojourn Boutique Villa and Angkor Sorika Villa which are both about 1km away.
If you prefer to find a hotel in Siem Reap town, there are many to choose from. Check out the latest prices on booking.com.
Why Visit Wat Athvea?
If you want to get away from the crowds and get a little off the beaten track, then Wat Athvea might just be the place for you. The surrounding area is typical Cambodian countryside and it’s a nice alternative place to visit.
You can get some great photos without lots of people in the way. You’ll also often see some monks around the temple as there is a monastery next door. Many of the monks will relish the chance to practice their English and tell you about the temple.
Wat Athvea was built as a Hindu temple in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II around the same time as Angkor Wat.
In the 1970s, just before the Khmer Rouge regime, the École française d’Extrême-Orient completed the restoration of the temple. Luckily it was unharmed during the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and the subsequent civil war.
Since the war ended, Wat Athvea has been open to the public, but it is still a rarely visited temple.
Layout and Design
Unusually, Wat Athvea faces the west where most Khmer temples face the east. Angkor Wat also faces to the west and it’s thought that it was dedicated to the same Hindu god, Vishnu.
Another unusual feature is the location of the four library buildings. They are situated in each of the four corners of the inner enclosure. Although a few of the other temples had four libraries, they were usually positioned in front of the temple and not around it.
The temple was never finished, so there is little decorative work, few carvings, and no stele to allow historians to properly date the temple.
There is a an outer wall to make up the enclosure with a entrance building (gopura) on the west side. There is also another entrance gate further to the west which would have made up a larger enclosure. However, this was never completed and the wall was never built.
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