Preah Khan Temple

1 reviews

The temple enclosure of Preah Khan is the largest in Cambodia, its central sanctuary featuring the earliest example of four huge faces looking to the cardinal directions, a motif that subsequently became almost synonymous with Cambodian temple architecture.

Preah Khan Temple

Preah Khan Temple in Cambodia

Preah Khan, which means “Sacred Sword”, was built towards the end of the 12th century as a part of King Jayavarman VII’s massive building campaign. Unlike many of Angkor’s larger monuments, which served primarily as worship centers or military headquarters, Preah Khan was also a Buddhist University. At its zenith, Preah Khan supported more than 1000 teachers and countless students.

King Jayavarman VII dedicated Preah Khan to his father, Dharnindravarman II, who is depicted throughout the temple in the likeness of the bodhisattva Lokesvara (the embodiment of compassion). Unfortunately, a later king destroyed many of Preah Khan’s Buddhist carvings and bas-reliefs. Archeologists blame King Jayavarman VIII for erasing the monument’s Buddhist heritage, and re-consecrating Preah Khan to the principles and deities of Hinduism.

Like most Angkorian temples, Preah Khan faces the rising sun, or the east. It is a large, moated monument that is accessed by a series of grand causeways. These causeways are flanked by richly detailed Naga (serpent beings) sculptures. These sculptures were used by the Khmer to identify a Royal City. In fact, King Jayavarman VII temporarily resided in Preah Khan while his palace in Angkor Thom was being constructed.

Inscriptions found throughout the temple suggest that Preah Khan was one of the most powerful, metropolitan areas of the ancient Khmer Empire. Archeologists have deduced that some 5,324 villages were part of the Preah Khan city proper. Astoundingly, the tax records of 97,840 male and female citizens of Preah Khan have survived the ages.

Preah Khan has been the focus of partial restoration since the 1920’s, but much of the temple has been left in a state of moderate to advanced ruin. As a result, this temple is a wonderful juxtaposition of richly ornamented Khmer stonework and jungle-swarmed piles of rubble.

Interestingly, Preah Khan is home to Angkor’s only two-story structure. Even though some of Angkor’s temples are more than 65 meters tall, they are all single-story buildings. Preah Khan’s two-story monument is located towards the eastern end of the temple complex. This architectural masterpiece should find its way onto any Angkor itinerary.

Additionally, some of the only examples of cylindrical columns in all of Angkor may be found in Preah Khan. These columns may be observed at the building located just west of Preah Khan’s main temple. Since cylindrical columns are not a staple of Preah Khan’s design, many archeologists believe that they were the product of a later period of construction.

Preah Khan is a gorgeous monument, worth any traveler’s time. It’s a fabulous example of Royal Khmer architecture, as well as a unique representation of the Khmer’s religious devotion. This monument can be viewed at all hours of the day. But like many temples in Angkor, viewing Preah Khan in the early morning or late afternoon hours will be the most comfortable. The Cambodian high noon sun can be quite brutal.

Hynos Travel provides a wide range of day tours, multi-day tours, tour packages which daily depart from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. For more information or tour reservation, please contact

Related Tours

  • 2 reviews

    Learn how to pick fresh herbs, prepare dishes like mango salad and fish amok, and add a finishing flair to your presentation. Finally, toast your hard work with a cocktail and sit down to taste your creations.

    Location: Siem Reap

    Duration: 4 Hours

    From USD $50 See details
  • 1 reviews

    Feast your senses on the enticing smells and explosive flavors of Cambodian cuisine on a 3-hour evening tour of Siem Reap’s street food district. Climb aboard a motorized rickshaw and delve into the cultural melting pot of street food…

    Location: Siem Reap

    Duration: 3 Hours

    From USD $47 See details
  • 10 reviews

    Discover the greatest landscapes in Vietnam: Halong bay, Mai Chau villages, Hoi An ancient town, Mekong floating market; Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm in Cambodia and many more.

    Location: Vietnam & Cambodia

    Duration: 11 days 10 nights

    From USD $999 See details
  • 2 reviews

    The Angkor Discovery tour has been specifically tailored to let you witness this country’s unique cultural heritage in a leisurely and comfortable fashion that ensures nothing of interest is missed. In the space of four days, you will get to see…

    Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia

    Duration: 4 days 3 nights

    From USD $350 See details
  • 14 reviews

    This tour takes you from Vietnam to Cambodia, discover the greatest landscapes of Vietnam including: Halong Bay, Mai Chau villages, Hoi An ancient town, Mekong Floating Market. See the best heritage of Angkor in Cambodia and much more.

    Location: Vietnam & Cambodia

    Duration: 17 days 16 nights

    From USD $1699 See details
  • 14 reviews

    Imagine a country full of ancient and modern history, saturated with beautiful religious monuments, teeming with wildlife, and lush with rice fields, grasslands, and rivers. Get off the tourist trail and let our travel experts show you the real heart of Cambodia.

    Location: Cambodia & Vietnam

    Duration: 17 days 16 nights

    From USD $1799 See details