The Highlights and sights of the Preah Vihear temple, Cambodia, starts with 162 stone steps

The Highlights and sights of the Preah Vihear temple, Cambodia, starts with 162 stone steps

The Thai and Cambodian paths join together at the bottom of the slope and from here the only way is up to see the highlights.

The fun starts with 162 stone steps, a fairly steep climb that will get you warmed up nicely. Your reward is a short set of stairs decorated with nagas and Gopura I, a solitary pavilion with a fluttering Cambodian flag.

A 500-meter gently climbing avenue leads up to Gopura II, another smallish pavilion, and a large boray (water cistern) to the left.

Yet another avenue (somewhat shorter this time) leads to, yes, Gopura III, but also the first courtyard of the temple and the first point where visitors to Angkor Wat will start feeling a sense of deja vu. Make a detour to the left side of the gopura to see relics of a more modern era, in the form of a rusting artillery gun and a few bunkers.

A short causeway decorated with nagas leads to the inevitable Gopura IV and behind it the second courtyard. On the other side of the courtyard is Gopura V aka the Galleries, and beyond it the Main Sanctuary, the centerpiece of the site which now houses a miniature Buddhist temple.

But what makes the effort worthwhile lies just outside, so sneak out the left side to find yourself at Pei Ta Da Cliff, with a sheer 500 meter drop and a jaw-dropping vista of the Cambodian jungles below. To contemplate the view without getting sunstroke, locate the crevice that leads into a little cavern of sorts, with shade provided by the tip of the cliff overhead and unfortunately some barbed wire to spoil your pictures (and stop you from falling off).

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