Banteay Srei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia

When people think of Cambodia or Siem Reap, they often immediately think of the Angkor complex. However, there is another place, often referred to as a more exquisite replica of Angkor. This is the Banteay Srei Temple, located not far from Angkor.

Overview of Banteay Srei Temple

Banteay Srei Temple is located quite far from the main Angkor complex (about 20 km) in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. For many decades, the temple was forgotten, similar to over 45 other relics of Angkor. It wasn’t until 1914 that the temple was officially discovered by French archaeologists.

Banteay Srei Temple

According to local assessments, Banteay Srei Temple is notable for four distinct characteristics:

  • It is the furthest temple from the city center of Siem Reap (35 km).
  • It uses the most pink sandstone as building material.
  • It has the most intricate architecture among all the temples in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • It is the smallest temple modeled after Angkor Wat.

Initially built in the 8th century, the temple was rather rudimentary and lacked detailed carvings. It wasn’t until the 12th century that elaborate decorations were meticulously carved. The sandstone carvings were completed in the 14th century.

Be sure to visit this museum in Siem Reap, see Angkor National Museum, Cambodia

Banteay Srei Temple
Banteay Srei Temple

Unique Architecture of Banteay Srei Temple

Banteay Srei Temple comprises three sanctuaries: the northern temple dedicated to Vishnu, and the central and southern temples dedicated to Shiva. Renowned for its exquisite craftsmanship, Banteay Srei is considered one of the finest temples in Cambodia, surpassing even Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. The temple is constructed from small blocks of pink sandstone, with beautifully carved walls and artistic murals. The precision and elegance of these carvings leave most visitors in awe.

Banteay Srei Temple

The use of pink sandstone as a building material is a distinctive feature that sets Banteay Srei apart from other temples. Despite being over 1,000 years old, the sculptures remain well-preserved due to the quality of the sandstone. The carvings are so precise and intricate that some visitors find it hard to believe they were chiseled from stone, often mistaking the surfaces for wood or brick.

Read more: Wat Bo Pagoda – One of the Most Ancient Temples in Siem Reap

Banteay Srei Temple

Banteay Srei’s construction elements are also noteworthy. Laterite was used for the fortifications, gateways, auxiliary buildings, and additional towers, while brick was used for the central tower’s roof, surrounding walls, and western door frames. In depictions of Banteay Srei, wood is seen as the material for the roofs of auxiliary buildings and galleries, though most galleries have now disappeared.

The origin of the pink sandstone used in the temple is still debated among archaeologists and experts. Some believe it was quarried near Kulen Mountain, known for its thick sandstone layers. However, the sandstone composition at Kulen is lighter than that at Banteay Srei, leading others to suggest the source may be closer, as some researchers have discovered a deep pit approximately 10 meters at the mountain’s base.

If you visit Phnom Penh, don’t miss these spots, see Top 9 Places To Visit in Phnom Penh

Beyond its unique artistic features, the temple’s carvings vividly reflect Hindu culture. The illustrative and decorative elements are categorized similarly to the deities’ positions in the three towers. The central and southern towers are dedicated to Shiva, while the northern tower is dedicated to Narayana.

In the northern library, there are significant sculptures on each gable. The eastern gable depicts the battle in the Khandava forest between Krishna and Indra, while the western gable shows the assassination of King Kamasak. Additionally, many other sculptural elements relate to various gods, including scenes from the Ramayana.

How to Get to Banteay Srei Temple

Currently, the road to Banteay Srei Temple has been significantly upgraded compared to many years ago. Along both sides of the path are meticulously cultivated and renovated rows of green trees. However, to reach the ancient temple, you will have to pass through a dense hill area as the temple is nestled deep in the forest, resembling a small hidden island.

To visit the ancient Banteay Srei Temple, you can travel by car or Tuk Tuk.

To learn more about the most beautiful beach in Cambodia, see Exploring Koh Rong Samloem Island – Cambodia

Banteay Srei Temple

Best Time to Visit Banteay Srei Temple

The ideal time to visit Banteay Srei Temple is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. These are the best times to capture stunning photographs with the temple’s ancient backdrop.

To find out the best time to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia, see Best Places To Visit In Vietnam And Cambodia


Banteay Srei Temple attracts millions of tourists each year, not only because it is a remarkable replica of Angkor Wat but also because it is considered one of the most intricately designed temples in Cambodia. Its exquisite and unique carvings are a testament to exceptional craftsmanship. So, don’t miss out on visiting Banteay Srei Temple when you’re in Siem Reap.

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