If you enjoy getting off the beaten track and avoiding the crowds, how about setting aside an afternoon to visit Beng Mealea, one of Angkor’s undiscovered temples.
What: A gorgeous undiscovered temple from the Angkor era
Where: 60km from Siem Riep
How: Car, or for the adventurous: tuk tuk.
When: Wet season is best (June-October) when the rocks are nice and green.
Move over Angkor Wat (well don’t, because you’d probably crumble) and fellow travellers take note!: Beng Mealea, which puts Ta Prohm (the famous Tomb Raider temple to shame) is not to be missed. Make a little room in your itinerary to see some temples outside the trodden ‘Small Circuit’ at Angkor, you wont regret it.
In 2001, when Angelina Jolie high-kicked and tumbled through Ta Prohm just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia’s Angkor region became a must see travel destination. Tourism has not slowed for this place since, and it’s difficult to find a quiet spot and marvel the beauty of these temples, which are over 1000 years old.
But towards the evening (when the light is soft and warm) Beng Mealea only recieves a few visitors, and this is when the magic really starts to happen. You can explore this temple alone in some parts, your only company being little white butterflies.
Ta Prohm eat your heart out. If you want to see a crumbling overgrown temple, with tree roots cascading over fallen stones and thick vines sailing above your head, then head to Beng Mealea, it’s stealing all Ta Prohm’s thunder, without the crouds.
How to get to Beng Mealea and best time to go:
The best time to visit Angkor Wat and the Angkor region in general is during the wet season between June and October. This is when all the moss and leaves and undergrowth is at its richest green.
To get the 60km there, take a car or tuk tuk (leave lots of time for the journey if in a tuk tuk, they are slow). You can arrange these easily in town, and prices depend on the season and number of passengers. If alone, grab a moto taxi; fast and cheap. You need to pay an additional $5 for entry into Beng Mealea, as it’s not covered in your Angkor pass.