- Location: in the northeast of Cambodia
Population: 119, 261
Area: 13,788 sq. km
Outstanding features: A place to explore ancient temples
This northeast province of Cambodia is approximately 543 km far from the capital city of Phnom Penh. The province is named after the Temple of Prasat Preah Vinhear which is the major attraction of the province. Because of its location, the majority of province is remote and covered by primeval forests. Thus, the province is among the least populated provinces in the Kingdom of Cambodia. The most active place of Preah Vihear is Phnom Tbeng Meanchey - the capital of the province.
Since there are no proper major roads in existence, the development of the province is quite low. However, the province still has a lot of interesting things to offer for those who are riveted on ancient temples and peaceful countryside life. The well-established temples there were kept intact due to the lack of touristy influence.
The most outstanding and striking place to go there is Preah Vihear Temple. It has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 2008. Situated on the top of a 525-metre mountain on the edge of a plateau that dominates the plain of Cambodia, the Temple is an excellent illustration of Khmer ancient architecture. Dating back to the first half of the 11th century AD, the temple of Preah Vihear is dedicated to Shiva. It contains a chain of sanctuaries which are linked with other by a system of pavements and staircases. Being well-preserved in its untouched appearance, the temple deserves the fame of being an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture in terms of its universal value, decoration style and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment.
In addition, right here in Preah Vihear, you can immerse yourself in the tranquility of other most impressive legacies from the Angkor era like the 10th-century capital of Koh Ker and the mighty Preah Khan. Once upon the time, Koh Ker was the capital of Khmer Empire and it was built by Preah Bat Chey Varman IV from the 10th century AD. Its location is at Sra Yong Cheung Village which is about 72 km from the provincial town. On the highland of Koh Ker, there exit Koh Ker temples consisting of 38 small temples in various styles. Preah Khan Complex or Bakan is about 105 km to the south of the provincial town. It was established under the reign of King Suryavarman (1002-1050). Since the complex covers a vast area of about 5 sq. km, it is regarded as the largest single religious complex ever built during Angkor era. However, because of the remote location, it has its name listed among less visited Angkor sites. Other temples such as the 7th-century Noreay, Phnom Pralean, Neak Buos… are worth to pay a visit.
Because the province is near the border between Cambodia and Thailand, its specialties are combined between Thai and Cambodian dishes. Actually, the places to eat are rarer than the drink stalls there; however, you are able to find delicious foods to enjoy. If you prefer a semblance of hygiene, you can go to the roadside restaurants along the road from Kantharalak.
Though the province of Preah Vihear is quite remote, visitors can enjoy the hundred of interesting thing there. Like a sleeping beauty, it is suitable for those who have a craving for a tranquil lifestyle and an ancient structure.