Ta Prohm plus Surrounding Temples

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Ta Prohm roots

Ta Prohm plus Surrounding Temples

As I was pedaling away from Angkor Wat and admiring the multitude of scenic temples interspersed throughout the thick jungle I realized why many people choose to spend three days or more exploring the temples. My next destination was Ta Prohm.

I made a few stops along the way to Ta Prohm on the Petit Circuit. These smaller temples were very different from the main tourist attraction of Angkor Wat, the first temple I visited. With less visitors you can find a quiet spot in the ruins and just try to imagine what it was like when these temples were being built.

Banteay Kdei

My only real plans for the day were to see Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Bayon. I knew there were many smaller temples along the way and I would just stop at whichever ones caught my attention. Well, that ended up being most of them.

Banteay Kdei, also known as “A Citadel of Chambers” was built about 200 years after Angkor Wat. Architecturally it is similar to Bayon, but much smaller.

Banteay Kdei

Banteay Kdei Carvings

Banteay Kdei window

Angkor Wat has been maintained and restored over the years so it still looks very much like it did when it was built. This is not the case with many of the smaller temples. Banteay Kdei was not in the greatest condition. One of the towers had been struck by lightening and was falling down and many other parts of it were crumbling.

Ta Prohm

One of the big three attractions, Ta Prohm or “The Tomb Raider Temple” was possibly what I was most looking forward to seeing. Deep in the jungle, the giant trees here have taken over the walls of the temple. Roots growing up and over the stones have crumbled them and given the temple a mystical look.

Ta Prohm

roots and sandstone Ta Prohm

roots on the wall

This temple was made famous by the 2001 movie “Tomb Raider” starring Angelina Jolie. Although many people don’t know that the movie was filmed on location at Ta Prohm.

Built around the same time as Banteay Kdei in the Bayon style by King Jayavarman VII, Ta Prohm, unlike many of the other temples has been left mostly in the condition it was found. Instead of being actively restored it is being conserved since the reclamation by the jungle is part of the charm.

Ta prohm through a tree

sanstone sculptures Ta Prohm

crooked Ta Prohm

I spent almost two hours here just wandering around and taking it all in. It was almost like a maze in certain parts. I got a little disoriented and doubled back on the same rooms a couple of times.

Ta Keo

Continuing along the Petit Circuit my next stop was Ta Keo, a grand looking temple.

Ta Keo wide

Possibly the first temple build entirely with Sandstone in the Khmer empire, Ta Keo was completed around the year 1000 by King Jayavarman V.

I did a lot of climbing at this temple up steep and treacherous “stairs.” I was surprised by the amount of access visitors have to the temples. You can actually climb up the same stairs used by Khmer royalty over a millennium ago. If these artifacts were in the western world they would probably be gated off and viewed from afar. I’m not saying its a bad thing to be able to climb and touch these relics, but I just wonder how much longer they will be around in their original condition. Certainly not another 1000 years.

climbing Ta Keo

top of Ta Keo

Ta Keo was being restored by the Cambodian government in Cooperation with the Chinese.

Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon Temples

An unexpected stop I made was at two interesting little temples right across the street from one another. Little visited Chau Say Tevoda Temple and to the north of it Thammanon Temple.

Thommanon Temple

Thommanon Temple

I really enjoyed these two temples, possibly because I had them mostly to myself, but the architecture particularly on Chau Say Tevoda really intrigued me. It is built as a cruciform plan similar to some Hindu temples in India.

Chao Say Tevoda Temple

Chao Say Tevoda Temple

Chau Say Tevoda wide angle

Chau Say Tevoda wide angle

After a quick lunch stop I continued along to the east gates of the walled city of Angkor Thom. More about this in the next post of this series (I promise it won’t be so long this time)



I am traveling the world focusing on adventure and photography.


  • Mom

    Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I’m happy to be alive in you!!!

    December 25, 2015 at 9:43 am
  • Dad

    Their seems to be a common thread here. Is it just indigenous? Why were they abandoned? Why would the Chinese help?

    December 25, 2015 at 10:24 am
  • Kaely

    Awesome detail on those temples! That’s crazy! The amount of time that must have taken!

    December 25, 2015 at 10:30 pm
  • Cara

    Wow Brooks! As I was reading, I thought these places seem to be right out of a cool movie! Then, you said one was in “Tomb Raider”! Have you seen it? Now, I must see it! Very neat. Thank you for adventuring for us, LOL! Cara

    December 26, 2015 at 8:38 am
  • Peg

    Ta Keo looks kinda like legos:) Seriously beautiful pictures. Are you tired of temples yet? Where are you headed to next?? Inquiring minds what to know. I posted your webpage on my FB business page and then boosted it. It’s reached 448 people so i hope you get some new followers.

    Think warm as it’s a 7 degree windchill and snowing in Maine!!

    Belated Merry HOHOHO and a HAPPY, SAFE AND HEALTHY (eg no bed bug*s:) NEW YEAR!!!

    *BTW, in my business they are called the breakfast, lunch, and dinner bugs as they bite in 3’s. That’s how you’ll know it’s not something else.

    Antie P

    December 30, 2015 at 3:28 pm

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