Depart on a pleasant drive of about 1.5 hours through the Cambodian countryside to Beng Mealea, a sprawling jungle temple constructed in a distinctly Angkor Wat style by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. It preceded and may have served as a prototype for Angkor Wat. Contrary to Angkor, few carvings or bas-reliefs are evident. Today the temple is largely overrun by vegetation and the stone walls are crumbling, which really adds to its charm in a unique way.

Accessibility has improved as elevated walkways have been set up throughout most of the temple, although to see all corners does require a sense of adventure as you will need to climb over stone blocks or walk through narrow passageways. Drive on for lunch in a traditional Cambodian restaurant. Then head to Banteay Srei temple. This red sand-stone temple is one of Angkor’s most significant structures as its walls are decorated with elaborate carvings which have been preserved remarkably well. They provide an excellent into the Angkor civilization and their beliefs. It was built in the 10th century and was dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva.

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