"Preah Vihear in May 2004 and February 2010" Prasat Preah Vihear by AlbuqRay

Prasat Preah Vihear Travel Guide: 42 reviews and 79 photos

Preah Vihear Not Prasat Phra Wihan

I first visited Preah Vihear in May 2004. It was an easy, relatively level walk from the Thai side to the base of Preah Vihear. At that time, you had to pay 200 baht on the Thai side and 200 baht on the Cambodian side for a day's visit. It is much more difficult to reach Preah Vihear from the Cambodian side, because of the roads and because of the geography. According to the internet, in 2003 Preah Vihear could be reached by motorcycle from Siem Reap via Anlong Veng, and in 2008 it could be reached from Siem Reap by 4WD car via a new road to Koh Ker and Tbeng Meanchey. In February 2010 the recommended route from Siem Reap was through Anlong Veng. At that time they were paving the road from Anlong Veng to Sa Em. Even so, I was able to visit Preah Vihear on a very long day trip out of Siem Reap. I was in a 2WD Camry but hired a 4WD truck at the bottom of the hill to go to the top. Actually the road up was paved but very steep. The Camry would have had no problem with ground clearance, but even in low gear it may have had problems with the steep grade.

Although the easiest way to get to Preah Vihear is from Thailand, it is actually a Khmer site in Cambodia (confirmed by a World Court decision in 1962) and should be called by its Cambodian name. There have been many border disputes over the years (with shooting!) and the border is often closed. Preah Vihear is in a spectacular setting and very much worth visiting. It may be 100 years older than Angkor Wat. There are four levels of temples (Khopuras) with steep, weathered steps and pillared causeways in between as you climb up the hill. The Poei Tadi, or the peak of the hill, is ~500 meters above the landscape below. The site is largely unrestored, which makes it even more interesting. Actually there is a national park on the Thai side leftover from when the site was in Thailand.

These Kids Made Our Tour Special

In 2004 we met a couple of cute kids there, Lawee and Laithong. They were selling postcards but came with us and helped guide us. Lawee seemed to be doing okay; his father was a vendor at Level 4. I think Laithong had a much harder life, but you didn't have to know her long to realize she was a special young lady. See also my three travelogues here on the kids at Preah Vihear (Laithong the Charmer, Lawee the Imp, and Children of Preah Vihear).

When I visited Preah Vihear in 2010, The children and vendors had been replaced by Cambodian soldiers. Actually the soldiers were very friendly and helped me find out about Laithong. They called over one of the female guides. She knew Laithong's sister and said that the family had moved to Phnom Penh a few years before. I left a picture with her with the contact information for the PIO office in Phnom Penh. Hopefully it will eventually find its way to Laithong.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Charming guides; four levels of temples; view at the top
  • Cons:Watch your step; the steps are uneven and steep
  • In a nutshell:Fascinating unrestored ruins in a spectacular setting
  • Last visit to Prasat Preah Vihear: Feb 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (30)

Comments (10)

  • roamer61's Profile Photo
    Oct 30, 2007 at 6:41 AM

    Very interesting. I read it is still disputed who actually owns the site. It is described in Lonely Planets Thailand, published in 1999.

  • austarman's Profile Photo
    Nov 22, 2005 at 6:38 PM

    You have put so much work into your pages they are fantastic.Good stuff. I hope to join you on this page soon

  • May 18, 2005 at 9:05 PM

    at this moment the crossing Thailand is closed there are problams again between Thai and Khmer

  • unravelau's Profile Photo
    Feb 12, 2005 at 2:04 PM

    You have created an extremely interesting and down to earth page on Prasat Preah Vihear and I am looking forward to investigating more of your pages.

  • Wann's Profile Photo
    Jan 30, 2005 at 9:25 AM

    I have been thinking before to get there as I have one friend live in Srisaket Province but from your page it's look pretty hard to get to the top for me.. ;-) better get fit before visit there.. LOL

  • norain's Profile Photo
    Oct 30, 2004 at 7:19 AM

    great page :)

  • Oct 24, 2004 at 7:16 AM

    Fantastic page......interesting place! Album pics are great, too!! ;~) Jen

  • jadedmuse's Profile Photo
    Oct 23, 2004 at 5:33 PM

    I'm in love with your travelogues. Very taken with the children...heartbreaking at the same time. Laithong is so cute with her little hat and expressions...you captured her well and respectfully.

  • catalysta's Profile Photo
    Jun 7, 2004 at 12:24 PM

    WIsh I was there now to hear the blind guitar player, while Laithong picked some little green berries for us to share! Beautiful page, got to go there vicariously through your wonderful tips....cat

  • piccolina's Profile Photo
    Jun 6, 2004 at 10:19 AM

    Amazing page and pics, thanks for sharing ....:-)


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