Backpacking Teacher

Travel, teaching and things in between. Saigon is the focus for now.

Beng Mealea – lots of trees and fallen rocks but not a T-Shirt seller in sight

with 6 comments


Angkor Wat, as I previously posted, is spectacular but I found that Beng Mealea, located about 40km’s out of Siem Reap, was far more evocative, peaceful, wild and untamed.


Unlike Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom or  Ta Phrohm, Beng Mealea receives relatively few visitors. This makes for a quiet and introspective experience. However this is not the main reason I enjoyed the temple complex. Beng Mealea is evocative because it is surrounded by only paddy fields and small farmers huts. Outside the gates you will find a local village and only a couple of food places that vaguely cater to the tourist. There is not a T-Shirt or statue seller in sight. A solitary old man begging and a couple of kids asking for candy or pens are the only things that herald your entry as you walk past the gigantic seven snake headed statue. Inside the complex is old and worn and, deliberately, not one tiny bit reconstructed. The temple complex is decaying and trees grown through, round and over rocks. Rock walls lay strewn across the ground felled by the forces of nature. As I clambered over rocks and under stone door frames I felt like I had finally seen something similar to the sight which had greeted Henri Mahout the French botanist in 1860.

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Angkor Wat should definitely be on your bucket list but if you do make it this far don’t give up on Beng Mealea just because it’s another 40km’s out. Far from the maddening crowd of tourists, and for that matter the maddening crowd of reconstructing archaeologists lies the overgrown complex of Beng Mealea. In the middle of a Cambodia far removed from the tourist haven of Siem Reap with it’s bars and T-Shirt shops lies the decaying, tree enveloped beauty of this Hindu temple guarded by Naga the seven headed serpent. Get there soon before the T-Shirt sellers arrive.

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Written by backpackingteacher

February 1, 2009 at 10:48 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Thanks for all the photos! I gotta’ get there someday!

    Expatriate Games

    February 7, 2009 at 6:52 am

  2. the pics are not so great …but I don’t like carrying a camera around so i just use my iphone to take photos…


    February 7, 2009 at 12:17 pm

  3. Unfortunately…you can’T find that here in JP….EVERYTHING is so commercialized….


    February 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm

  4. yes it is nice when you can find a place that’s escaped commercialisation (or mostly escaped)


    February 7, 2009 at 4:31 pm

  5. […] one is of the temple of Beng Mealea in Cambodia that I blogged about here. […]

  6. Hi! I’m the Community Manager of We’re building a website to highlight some of the most interesting places travelers around the world have discovered. We’ve read hundreds of blogs about Cambodia, and we think that yours is awesome! We’d love to highlight excerpts from blogs like yours (assuming it’s OK with you of course) and to discuss other ways of tapping into your expertise if you are interested. I’m at
    Thanks! 🙂


    February 25, 2009 at 7:58 am

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