Asia,  Cambodia,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Temples of Angkor (Cambodia): Ta Som, Neak Pean, Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre, Kbal Spean, Banteay Prom, Ta Nei, Western Mebon – Travel Diary

Today, our travel diary takes you to visit the following Angkor temples: Ta Som, Neak Pean, Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre, Banteay Prom, Western Mebon as well as the river of 1000 lingas: Kbal Spean and the Butterfly Centre

Read the travel diary of our first 2 days in Angkor
Read the travel diary of our 3rd day in Angkor

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips


Part 1: Travel Diary

Day 4

We are joined by a colleague of JB, who came to spend the end of the year celebrations in Cambodia. The three of us rent a tuk-tuk. The driver, Kimly, is very nice. As he is trying to finance his wedding which will take place in 2 weeks, he is hard in business and we pay the rate of 20$ instead of the usual 15$

We take our friend to visit the temples that we liked very much like Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei and Bayon. But we have shown you these temples in the last two travel diaries so we will only show you the two temples we visited for the first time

Your Som

It’s a nice little temple, with a big surprise at the end: the back door covered by the roots of a hundred-year-old tree

Neak Pean

A friend told me it was his favorite temple. So I have no choice but to go there and check it out for myself. The temple is on an island. To get there, one crosses a small wooden footbridge. The view is breathtaking! To be done if possible by blue and cloudy sky to see it reflected on the water

The temple itself isn’t very beautiful, one cannot even get close to it. But go for the water basin!

Day 5

Another friend told me about Banteay Srei, the most beautiful temple of Angkor, located about 30 km from Siem Reap. We are motivated to go there, especially since there is also a river of 1000 lingas next to it (Kbal Spean)

This time, as the road is long, we decide to rent a car with driver via our hotel for 50$. It is the manager of our hotel who drives us there. The class! We stay at this hotel for 2 weeks now and we appreciate very much the manager. He speaks very good English and thanks to his 15 years of experience as a tour guide, cab driver, hotel manager… we could ask him a lot of questions about Cambodia, what to eat, how the insurance works etc

Kbal Spean

We pass to look for our buddy at his hotel and then it left for 1 hour of road. We stop first at Kbal Spean because the road to go there is closed at 3 pm. As much not to take risk and to go there first

After 25 minutes of walking (it goes up slowly but we are in the shade in the jungle so it wasn’t very hard), we discover the first religious sculptures

…followed by hundreds of lingas (in phallic form), which refer to a Hindu God (don’t ask me which one I forgot). According to our guide, the water flowing over these lingas becomes sacred, hence the location of these lingas at the bottom of the river

Just above a waterfall, we see a group of monks and people dressed in white doing a “baptism” type ceremony. It is possible that they come to ask something from the deities, or that they come to thank the deities for granting them what they asked for

We continue on the path and are at the bottom of the small waterfall. The water looks so clean (moreover it is sacred, after having crossed so many lingas) that our two men can’t resist the urge to take a fresh shower under the waterfall

It takes us a good half hour to get down. It’s not easy, but we saw quite a few senior tourists on the way. Of course, they aren’t super fast, but it’s not too difficult for them

We have a leisurely lunch on the spot while doing some people watching

Banteay Srei

We take the road again to go to Banteay Srei, the pink temple, or the “lady temple”, Srei means “woman”. It is a small temple because it was not built by a king but by his brothers. The stones used to build it have a pink color, hence the nickname “pink temple. It is really the most beautiful temple of Angkor, because the reliefs, sculptures are incredible, having been made by the most famous sculptors of the time

Fortunately we visit it in the early afternoon because in the morning, this temple is invaded by buses of Chinese tourists

Butterfly center

Who doesn’t like butterflies? So when our driver offers us to go to the butterfly sanctuary, we say yes right away. The visit costs 5$ and a very enthusiastic guide accompanies us to show us the different types of butterflies, cocoons, caterpillars… in short the complete cycle of a butterfly

Unfortunately, we don’t see so many butterflies as many died because of the great cold (20°C!!!) a few days ago. But this center is part of a larger project to train local farmers to recognize, produce butterflies and sell them to exhibitions and zoos. This allows them to earn more money. The center also buys the cocoons from the farmers, the small ones for 25 cents and the big ones for 50 cents. A motivated farmer can earn up to $200/month from the sale of the cocoons. Protecting butterflies also means giving up pesticides

However, the center has few visitors and struggles to make ends meet. So our guide told us that we could support them by buying drinks – or talking about them. What I do on this blog 🙂 Go ahead, the center is called Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre (BBC) and isn’t very far from the Banteay Srey temple

Banteay Samre

We arrive at Banteay Samre around 4:30 pm, it’s a temple a little out of the way but accessible by scooter from Siem Reap. However, as it is our way, we take advantage of it to visit it all the same

We are alone on the place. What a luxury! It is so nice to visit a temple without the usual horde of tourists. Only a group of small Cambodian boys accompany us, they play hide and seek in the temple

The complete silence, a ruined temple, the soft light of the sunset… how we loved this moment of grace

Day 6: Visit the temples with a French-speaking guide

This is our 6th day at the temples of Angkor. We are almost archaeologists! Today, we decide to pay a Watanabe French-speaking guide – who comes to pick us up at the hotel with a tuk-tuk friend, the whole for 60$ the day

Fortunately we are only 3 + the guide (including 2 super slim) because the tuk tuk can not hold more people. We revisit Ta Prohm because our friend has only seen it once and this temple deserves at least 2 visits

Ta Nei

Then we visit Ta Nei, a temple hidden in the jungle. The path is narrow but we can get there by tuk-tuk. The temple has not been restored, we are obliged to climb a mountain of stones to visit the site. But it gives us a rather precise idea of what the other temples looked like when they were rediscovered


This small temple was very important because at that time, before a new temple was built, the king had to come here (and to the temple across the street) to perform a ceremony and pray that the work would go well. In fact, the Ta Keo Temple next door did not have such a ceremony and work had to be halted because of numerous work-related accidents during its construction


We pass just in front of the Bayon temple, where there are artifacts to show us the tools used for carving and polishing the stones

Then we walk on the walls along Angkor Thom for 3km, discovering a secret passage reserved for the king (to escape from the city if necessary), a hidden temple – lovers’ rendez-vous for sunset. We are accompanied by about twenty butterflies, small and large, blue, white, yellow..

It is really superb because these are places that we cannot discover without the guide

On the way, we pass a group of tourists on a Vespa scooter. Each tourist is driven by a scooter driver (since tourists aren’t supposed to drive themselves), it’s a very good idea I think, but it must be expensive too

Banteay Prom

Here is another temple completely lost in the jungle that we couldn’t find the last time by scooter. But thanks to the motivation of the guide and the tuk-tuk, we were able to go there, by tuk-tuk. We had some scares (tuk tuk too leaning to the left, or path full of sand), but we are so happy to be alone on the site

Western Mebon

Western Mebon is a temple on an island in the middle of a huge water reservoir. We also tried to visit it by scooter in vain. In fact, we had to take the longest way, bypassing the Siem Reap airport, and not take the shortcuts as Google Maps showed us

To get to the temple, we have to pay for a boat (20$), but having already visited Mebon Oriental, its exact copy on the other side, we do not see the point of it

The guide advises us to have lunch here. Sure, there are grilled chicken stands, but what else? He then shows us a kind of floating house, accessible via a super dangerous wooden staircase. But we are either adventurous or not. We buy some grilled chicken next door, asking them to bring it down to us because I don’t see myself going down this staircase at all with loaded arms

And there … surprise!

Many hammocks are installed at the bottom, to guarantee us a good nap at the water’s edge

A few minutes later, the chicken and drinks arrive. Starving, and since the chicken is very good too, we ate everything. Sugar cane juice and coconut juice in drink, it’s perfect!

Ohlala, life is too hard!

The guide is super nice and waits for us until we finish a small nap. Beside, Cambodians are fishing, while children are swimming in the water. Time seems to stop, only the water noises caused by the boats wake us from time to time

That’s it, it’s the end of this super busy day

We really took full advantage of the Angkor temples with our 7-day pass. I will write another article to tell you about our other activities in Siem Reap

Part 2: Practical Tips


  • Angkor Ticket: 7 Day Pass 72$/person
  • Tuk-tuk one day to visit the farthest temples: $15-$20
  • Car for one day (Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre and Butterfly Center): $50
  • English speaking guide + tuk tuk to visit distant temples hidden in the jungle: 60$
  • Lunch at Mebon Occidental (with hammock): 3$/person
  • Lunch at Kbal Spean: 6$/person

Contact information & Useful links

  • Our hotel: Sakun Angkor Boutique. It is always cheaper to book tuk tuk and cars through our hotel than in the street
  • Guide francophone :


  • There are two places where you can visit a river of 1000 lingas near Siem Reap. We chose to visit Kbal Spean because its visit is included in the Angkor ticket. But there is another mountain with bigger waterfalls whose entrance costs 20$.
  • Don’t take a guide to visit the known temples because the guides we met seem to recite their knowledge about each of the reliefs of each temple, and don’t pay too much attention to the best times to visit without the crowd. Whether it is the guides or the tuk tuks, for them, there are people all the time, they aren’t really good advices about visiting schedules. So it’s up to you to be firm and demand a route without the crowd – even if you have to do some research yourself and suggest a route that seems the most suitable to you.
  • We advise you to visit the temples hidden in the jungle as we do with a guide, and to insist on the secret places, far from other tourists and the crowd.
  • Other tips + Angkor temple tour guide are available here

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