Banteay Srei Temple is located some 37 kilometers from Siem Reap town centre and River Queen. A visit to Banteay Srei is usually combined with a visit to Kbal Spean Mountain located several kilometers further from temples. It is within reasonable distance to travel by Tuk Tuk or some visitors may prefer taxi. Tuk Tuk ride takes around 90 minutes going through some nice scenery, providing quite good photo and video opportunities on the way. A visit to Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean Mountain should be planned as a full day activity. There are several restaurants offering traditional Cambodian food of good quality, reasonable prices and great taste.
Kbal Spean climb is around 2 kilometers, not very steep and pleasant and definitely worth visiting.
Some history of Banteay Srei as per Wikipedia:
Banteay Srei or Banteay Srey is a 10th century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Located in the area of Angkor in Cambodia. It lies near the hill of Phnom Dei, 25 km (16 mi) north-east of the main group of temples that once belonged to the medieval capitals of Yasodharapura and Angkor Thom. Banteay Srei is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually so when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to its being widely praised as a “precious gem”, or the “jewel of Khmer art.
Information about Kbal Spean from Wikipedia:
Kbal Spean (“Bridge Head”) is an Angkorian era archaeological site on the southwest slopes of the Kulen Hills to the northeast of Angkor in Siem Reap District, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. It is situated along a 150m stretch of the Stung Kbal Spean River, 25 kilometers (16 mi) from the main Angkor group of monuments.
The site consists of a series of stone carvings in sandstone formations carved in the river bed and banks. It is commonly known as the “Valley of a 1000 Lingas” or “The River of a Thousand Lingas”. The motifs for stone carvings are mainly myriads of lingams (phallic symbol of Hindu god Shiva), depicted as neatly arranged bumps that cover the surface of a sandstone bed rock, and lingam-yoni designs. There are also various Hindu mythological motifs, including depictions of the gods Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Lakshmi, Rama, and Hanuman, as well as animals (cows and frogs).
Suggested plan for a day visiting Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean Mountain:
- Early breakfast in River Queen – 7:30 apm – 8:00 am
- River Queen can organise a good English speaking Tuk Tuk driver or Taxi driver. Our driver will be waiting for you and you can discus plans for the day with him before leaving. We suggest taking bottle of water with you (you can fill your bottle with filtered water in our reception area). Maximum time required to reach Kbal Spean Mountain is less than 2 hours. We suggest starting with visit to Kbal Spean first because you will be fresh for a climb and the temperature will be more pleasant. Tuk Tuk drivers charge US $25.00 for a day trip to Kbal Spean and Banteay Srei. Taxi drivers charge US $ 55.00 for this tour.
- River Queen can organise a certified tour guide (your choice of language) to guide you through the visit. Daily fee for a guide is US $25.00. It is a good idea to make this arrangement more than one day in advance during high season (November-March) due to high demand for tour guides.
- Purchase daily pass for visiting temples on the way. Daily pass is US $20.00. The same pass is valid for visiting the Angkor Wat complex of temples. There is an option of purchasing 3 day pass for the price of 2 days (US $40.00).
- Visit to Kbal Spean and site seeing including “The River of a Thousand Lingas” should take approximately 2 hours
- You can order your lunch box at the reception of River Queen the evening before your trip or your Tuk Tuk driver can take you to one of the restaurants on the road between Kbal Spean and Banteay Srei. Restaurants are clean, serving tasty Cambodian food and prices are reasonable.
- Visit to Banteay Srei Temple should not take more than two hours. This temple is well known for very sophisticated and beautiful stone-carvings. It is often called the “jewel of Khmer art”
- Return trip back to the town or River Queen Guesthouse should not take more than two hours. Expect to be back around 3:00 pm.
- Time to review your photos with a cold drink in River Queen Bar or relax on the roof-top enjoying the views and cool jacuzzi.
Some photos from my last visit to Kbal Spean and Banteay Srei
I am sure that visit to Siem Reap and temples from the great Angkor Era is great experience.