Remote temples by helicopter

Siem Reap, Cambodia

An extraordinary day spent exploring remote and unexplored temples by helicopter and jeep. Head to Banteay, that once rivalled Angkor Wat as well as Preah Vihear, a highly disputed temple that sits near the border with Thailand.

Fly by helicopter to the remote sprawling archaeological site of Banteay Chhmar known as ‘Citadel of the Cat’. A national treasure, this temple complex is rarely visited due to its distant location.

Unlike many other Angkor temples, Banteay Chhmar has never been restored and has succumbed to severe looting over the years, being listed several times as one of the hundred most endangered sites in the world by the World Monuments Fund.

Experts have claimed that the temple rivalled Angkor Wat in size and magnificence and it has been estimated that it took about 20,000 laborers and about 30 years to build it. Highlights of Banteay Chhmar include the exceptional bas-reliefs on the walls, although many are damaged due to vandalism or theft. The Global Heritage Fund is currently working on putting life-size jigsaw puzzle pieces back together.

The beautiful complex is surrounded by a water-filled moat, occupying an area of nine hectares. A simple local lunch will be cooked for you by the local women’s group at the community restaurant. Depending on your timings you may also visit one of the spectacular satellite sites consisting of crumbling ruins in the grips of nature, hidden in the countryside.

After lunch, take off again to fly to Preah Vihear. Perched on the edge of the Dangrek escarpment, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a cliff-top temple with spectacular views across both Cambodia and Thailand, where it is nestled on the border. This temple was built over a period of 300 years by a succession of Kings and is regarded as a masterpiece of Khmer architecture.

You will land at the foot of the escarpment and travel by 4wd vehicle to the temple, returning to the helicopter either by road or by walking down the Angkorian stairway. The temple complex’s unique blend of sanctuaries linked by pavements and staircases with the breathtaking natural landscape make this temple a site of exceptional quality. The return helicopter route brings you back along the margins of Tonle Sap, over the stilted and floating villages to Siem Reap.

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