"Preah Vihear in May 2004 and February 2010" Prasat Preah Vihear by AlbuqRay
Prasat Preah Vihear Travel Guide: 42 reviews and 79 photos
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.
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: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
This guy was playing his homemade electric guitar just below some of the Thai border bunkers. You would not believe how... more travel advice
One way to get to Preah Vihear is to stay in Ubon Ratchathani and hire a driver to take you there. I highly recommend... more travel advice
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