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“Banteay Chhmar Not Ready for Prime Time”
Review of Banteay Chhmar

Banteay Chhmar
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Banteay Chhmar (the “Citadel of the Cat”) has been called the "second Angkor Wat” and was constructed by King Jayavarman VII, who also built Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm and Preah Khan. This remote and vast site is currently under restoration and visitors find a stunning interplay of temple and jungle.
Reviewed December 29, 2012

I am an American pediatrician who has worked in Siem Reap yearly for the past ten years, staying for one month at the Angkor Hospital for Children. I have visited most of the temple ruins in the country, and biked around Angkor Wat many many times. I was looking forward to visiting Banteay Chhmar after reading some travel magazines and your reviews.
They are absolutely not true.
It is a 200 miles, 6+ hours round trip from Siem Reap. Half of this is over poor to terrible roads.
There are only three parts of this temple complex that are interesting, few paths, lots of climbing over fallen temple stones, reconstruction scaffolds around the more interesting part, and they can all be seen in 30 minutes. Yes, the bas relief is great, but it is only 30-40 feet long.
This site will take years to re-construct so that visitors can appreciate it. Beng Melea is similar and closer to Siem Reap.
Banteay Chhmar is not worth all the time spent driving and the gasoline expense.
Marv Godner
Santa Fe, NM

4  Thank doctormarv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Andrewjmarino, Manager at Banteay Chhmar, responded to this reviewResponded January 5, 2013

Banteay Chhmar is approximately a 200 mile/165 kilometer round-trip from Siem Reap. The last 65km is on an unpaved road that is undergoing major improvements and will be paved over the next year. Currently, it is, indeed, about a 3-3 1/2 drive from Siem Reap.

While it may be preferable for visitors to stay overnight in Banteay Chhmar, it is possible to make it into an enjoyable day trip from Siem Reap (see below for details).

Banteay Chhmar Temple is the fourth largest temple complex from the Angkorian era and has some unique characteristics for those more interested in Khmer history. There are still significant bas-reliefs on the north and south galleries, and the two remaining Avalokitesvaras on the west gallery are one of the temple's and Buddhism's most important symbols. The interior of the temple contains an amazing assemblage of Buddhist and Hindu images, and it does require some scrambling over the collapsed remains. Research indicates that the temple once had more than 50 towers including many enigmatic face towers similar to Bayon Temple. The conservation project occupies less than 2 percent of the temple area. There are no plans to reconstruct the entire temple - only the most critically damaged areas.

So, the temple will remain mostly as a natural testament to its time. The heavily forested temple offers a stunning change of lighting throughout the day, and visitors will likely have the temple to themselves. This means escaping the noise and tourist scene at the other more-crowded temples.

What sets Banteay Chhmar apart is its remote, secluded location, undisturbed nature and distinctive set of Angkorian-era iconography. This is coupled with the hospitality of the villagers. It is likely that the temple's historical uniqueness will eventually lead to it becoming listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

There is a community-based tourism (CBT) group that offers tour guides, homestays, meals, activities and transportation. All the money spent by visitors stays within the community. There is also an excellent silk center in Banteay Chhmar. Additional interests include several satellite temples, two barays and learning about rural Cambodian life.

For a day trip from Siem Reap, the best idea is as follows: Leave Siem Reap around 7 to 7:30 a.m. You will arrive in Banteay Chhmar about 10:30 a.m. You can tour the temple site for a couple hours with a tour guide, have a picnic lunch inside the temple while listening to traditional music if you choose. After lunch, relax for a while, and then visit the silk center, village and/or satellite temples on your way back to Siem Reap.

The CBT is working on organizing day trips from Siem Reap this year to add to its tour packages. Or, if you do have more time, then you can stay overnight in one of the homestays. More information can found at the Banteay Chhmar CBT website.

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Write a ReviewReviews (102)
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"siem reap"
in 24 reviews
"community based"
in 14 reviews
"angkor wat"
in 10 reviews
"home stay"
in 7 reviews
"bas reliefs"
in 6 reviews
"off the beaten track"
in 6 reviews
"main temple"
in 6 reviews
"two hours"
in 5 reviews
"amazing temple"
in 4 reviews
"rainy season"
in 3 reviews
"indiana jones"
in 3 reviews
"ox cart"
in 3 reviews
"three days"
in 3 reviews
"traditional music"
in 3 reviews
"highlight of our trip"
in 2 reviews
"large site"
in 2 reviews
"one night"
in 2 reviews

70 - 74 of 102 reviews

Reviewed September 4, 2012

Banteay Chhmar is 100 Km NW of Siem Reap, reached by the paved NH6 to the market town of Sisophone, then along a dirt road for another 2 hours. It is about 30 Km from the Thai border, convenient for previous bouts of looting.

Banteay Chhmar has an extensive Angkorian temple compound with splendid bas-reliefs depicting apsaras, historic battle scenes and Hindu and Buddhist enlightenments, and is no less impressive than what you see in Bayon, Angkor Thom - which dates from the same epoch. However, the site is still in a "ruinous" state - like Bayon was a century ago - and it may take several decades to rebuild with support from the Global Heritage Fund and others. At this stage, the setting is more "authentic", and you may be the only tourists. There are other, smaller satellite temples and sites outside the main compound.

Another reason for the visit is to support the rural community and its Community Based Tourism (CBT). The local population is comprised of people with regional roots, as well as refugees from other parts of Cambodia who settled here after the civil war. Tourism is slowly becoming an integral part of the local economy and a supplement to traditional, small-scale agriculture. The CBT is run by part-timers who have been trained as tour guides, and they provide services such as homestays, basic F&B and other entertainments, e.g. traditional music performance. They give visitors a warm and enthusiastic welcome.

In a few years, the last stretch of the road from Sisophone will be paved, and basic utilities such as water and electricity will be provided by the government at affordable prices (currently the electricity provider is a private company, providing electricity from 6-11 pm). This will change the character of tourism in Banteay Chhmar, and CBT will have to compete with larger, experienced outside operators. Supporting them today will help equip them for the new challenge in the future.

3  Thank Chuchatchat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 28, 2012

I am glad I had decided to go to this temple ruins after I went to Beng Mealea, Koh Ker and Preah Vihear. Like Beng Mealea, this temple is in the state of ruins (in my opinion, much worse than Beng Mealea), but I think that is its main appeal, and also because it is so remote, you will likelyl be the only visitors there! In some ways, this temple makes you feel like Indiana Jones even more than Beng Mealea!

Banteay Chhmar has reliefs similar to Bayon style, and the carving of many-armed images of Lokeshvara. For the adventurer in you, and if the idea of exploring ruined temples in the middle of nowhere sounds appealing, then this temple should not be missed! $5 entry fee.

4  Thank HenryOnly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago
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Reviewed January 12, 2018 via mobile
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