Escape to the Ruins of Beng Mealea

Svay Leu, Cambodia



1.2 miles

Elevation Gain

65.6 ft

Route Type



Added by Michael Wigle

Escape the tourist crowds and heat into the jungle to see one of the most picturesque Khmer temples.

Halfway between the temple city of Angkor Thom and Koh Ker on the old imperial road lies Beng Melea. This is a perfect temple to visit after picking up passes from the park ticket office in Siem Reap. The best time to go is at the end of the day a few hours before closing when the crowds are fewest and the afternoon sun breaks through the jungle canopy in golden rays.

Most hotels will connect you with a good driver and car to ride out to Beng Melea. Do not take a bus or a tuk tuk. The drive is too long for a tuk tuk and tour buses in Cambodia are typically large passenger vans crammed with western tourists. A driver who doubles as your tour guide will likely cost you less than $35 a person and will open your day up to seeing more places.

Plan on being outside in hot muggy temperatures with little breeze. The jungle provides a slight drop in temps while blocking the sun from baking you. The inner temple galleries stay relatively cool during the day which is a welcome break. Bring some snacks for the car ride along with salt tablets and plenty of water. There are places to eat across from the temple that aren't recommended. What is recommended is asking the driver to stop for Kralen, a sweet cinnamon rice cooked inside a bamboo tube and sold along most of the road out to Beng Melea.

The temple itself opens up to the east and signs take you through a loop. Start at the eastern wall and walk around the back to the west. There will likely be only a few people here. Head west along the western entrance road until you get to the bridge. Most people do not know this is where the main entrance used to be. On the other side of the river is the sandstone road that connected all the temples together. For the truly adventurous, you can hire a guide who will take you backpacking from Angkor Wat to Koh Ker.

Once back inside the temple walls there are paths to explore. The banyan trees grow up the sides of many of the walls adding to the uniqueness of this place. This is also the only temple that has a walkway that goes up and over the galleries offering different perspectives into the courtyards below.

Spend a few hours here exploring. This pairs well as an afternoon visit with the Kampong Phluk Floating Village if that is done in the morning.  Save the drinking and big meals for the Siem Reap restaurant district when you get back. 

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