Scaling the Mammoth Heights of Pre Rup in Angkor

A popular sunset spot in Siem Reap, Pre Rup is a majestic temple mountain with steep, knee-high steps. Its height is imposing, and definitely not recommended for those with acrophobia. But if you’ve got guts, you’ll soon find the climb to be rewarding.

Pre Rup, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Pre Rup, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Pre Rup has an ancient Egyptian pyramid feel to it, with lion statues guarding from every corner of the steps. Traditionally believed to be a funerary temple, the term “Pre Rup” literally means “turn the body”, which refers to the ritual rotation of body ashes in different directions as funerary service progresses.

In fact, though, it is actually the state temple of a warrior king called Rajendravarman II. This temple is historically important in that it was the second temple built after the Khmer capital was returned from Koh Ker to Angkor after a political upheaval (the first was East Mebon, which is nearby and artistically similar but I didn’t get the chance to visit it). The amazingly intricate Banteay Srei was also constructed during his reign.

The apsara carvings here are surprisingly quite detailed, but unfortunately not very well-preserved. But even if you’ve already grown tired of temple carvings, Pre Rup still does one thing exceedingly well. The views of the Angkorian ruins and Cambodian countryside from up here is amazing:

Pre Rup, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Pre Rup, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Pre Rup was a nice little surprise. I wasn’t expecting it to be this good (i.e. it didn’t even make my Top 4 Temples I Can’t Wait to See at Angkor list), but if I get to do a post-travel list of best temples that I’ve visited, I’ll certainly have to make a room for a fifth temple just for Pre Rup. It’s a peaceful, crowd-free, underrated temple. If you ascend during non-sunset hours, that is.

What’s your impression about Pre Rup? What are your favorite underrated temples at Angkor?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautiful photos! I think the fact that it is not popular (lack of people) adds to the overall experience and makes it just a little more special. You basically had the place to yourself.


    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Indeed, there were only very few people when we visited Pre Rup. It certainly made the whole temple experience more enjoyable. Some other temples are too overtouristed and it kinda reduced the experience (incl. one that I plan to write about next), but Pre Rup is definitely on my recommendation list.


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