Beng Mealea Travel Guide

The mysterious jungle temple of Beng Mealea was built in the 12th century in Angkorean style as a sister temple to the main complex, and was only opened to visitors in 2003 after the surrounding areas were cleared of land mines.

Hidden in the jungle some 70kms from Siem Reap, this secret atmospheric complex with its moat, high walls and massive stone construction is not yet on the regular tourist trail, although more visitors are arriving nowadays.

Its basic rectangular layout is arranged as three enclosing galleries leading to an inner sanctuary, approached from the moat by four causeways with magnificent Naga serpent balustrades. The massive sandstone blocks used for the high walls and buildings are intricately carved with scenes from Hindu mythology. The spectacular West Tower still stands, glowing in the dappled sunlight filtering through the jungle canopy.

Access to the complex was made easier in 2003 via an access road to Koh Ker Temple in the same area, and involves a drive of about one and a half hours. Sensible shoes and clothing are recommended as visitors will need to climb over huge piles of rubble and walls to explore the beauties of the entire site. A circuit of the vegetation-covered ruins with a local guide will take around two hours.

In brief

What is it? Angkorean temple ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Opening hours: daylight hours, daily.

Entrance fees: US$5.


Where: on the ancient royal highway from Angkor to Preah Khan Kompong Svay near the village of Damdek.

How to get there: by hire car or moto-taxi from Siem Reap (20 minutes), from where flights run to Phnom Penh (25 minutes).