Siem Reap: Beng Mealea


Approximately 40km away from the main temple site of the Angkor Archeological Park is Beng Mealea. That was a very bumpy 2-hour tuktuk ride and arrived around 12pm.

This Hindu temple has less visitors due to the location but it was strongly recommended by my Cambodian buddies for the mostly-undisturbed ruins. A large part of the temple has fallen and turned to rubble. 
A decade ago, there would have been significantly less tourists around the area but now Beng Mealea is no longer a hidden gem. Tour buses and minivans come and go but it is definitely quieter than the main Angkor site.

I got my tuktuk driver to follow me into the area (and help me get some photos taken) as it was my first temple stop in Siem Reap and I wasn't quite sure how everything worked.
The driver was kind enough to also act as my tourguide.

Yes, it's elephant pants day. I bought them in Phnom Penh and they are so comfortable!
On the down side, it's so popular that half of the tourists are wearing elephant pants of different designs (and some elephant shirts too).

Wabi-sabi, also known as the art of imperfection, is probably one of the main reasons why Beng Mealea is gaining popularity over the past few years or so. 

Beng Mealea is seriously breathtaking as tree roots are entangled with what's left of the temple. This process took hundreds of years and I could only gawk at the remains.
Wooden bridges are built to accommodate the visitors but some parts are covered in debris and there are no alternatives to climbing up the fallen boulders.

Had to wait for quite awhile for the photo above as that area is one of the popular phototaking spots and two groups of ladies were having photoshoots at both ends of the almost-similar paths.

Beng Mealea isn't that huge and an hour's stay should be sufficient but there is also a small house available to stay the night. It would be amazing if: a) you're not travelling alone, and b) you're someone who loves being surrounded by Mother Nature.

If you fancy somewhere more quiet and peaceful, Koh Ker is another fantastic out-of-the-way temple. It is located 80km away from the main site and is inaccessible by tuktuk. It is advisable to rent a car for the trip there. The area around Koh Ker is also not fully demined, therefore it is highly recommended to follow the footpath that is provided.
(The car rental fee for one person is just too expensive so I decided to skip Koh Ker for this trip)

** Please note that the entrance fees for Beng Mealea, Koh Ker, and Preah Vihear are not covered by the Angkor Park ticket.
Entrance fees for Beng Mealea is $5 and I was charged a $40 tuktuk fee for the whole day, pickup and dropoff at my hostel.

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