Often overlooked due to being the last temple on the outer loop of the Angkor Archaeological Park, I am going to share my photos to prove why Banteay Kdei should not be missed!
You will be blown away by the jungle atmosphere of this remote temple and struck immediately by a fantastic Bayan tree. This makes it a quiet alternative and to Ta Prohm and a great place for photo opportunities!
Fitting in Banteay Kdei on the Small Loop
In my Angkor Wat Ticket Guide I recommend that you go for either the 3 or 7 day pass – a day is simply not enough to explore the temples of Angkor! In order to split up my templeseeking on the large loop to allow time for all temples, I did it over two days. The first day was spent as an afternoon at Angkor Wat (3 hours!) and Bayan (the temple with the faces). The second day was spent exploring the other temples inside Angkor Thom (plus Elephant terrace and Leper terrace), Tommamon, Chau Say Thevoda, Ta Keo, Ta Prohm and Banteay Kdei.
I felt that by doing it in one day I would be rushing it and missing out the smaller temples which I didn’t want to do. You also want to plan around avoiding the heat of the day!
Introduction to Banteay Kdei
Similar to Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei has four Gaporas (monumental gates). The temple was built in Bayan style and so you may see similarities between this and Bayan (within Angkor Thom) – look for the faces in the towers. There is a large platform built to access the main temple, which is protected by lions and other guardian statues.
Known as the ‘Citadel of Monks’ or ‘Citadel of Chambers’ this temple was built in the late 12th to early 13th Century during the reign of Jayavarman VII. It’s a Buddhist temple that was actually inhabited until around 1960. Due to the later date of it’s construction, unlike Angkor Wat, Banteay Kdei was never a Hindu temple – it was always Buddhist.
However, poor construction combined with a low quality of sandstone for it’s construction material mean that the temple is now very much in need of renovation. However, this simply adds to the eeriness and quieter atmosphere. You won’t find as many tourists here as Ta Prohm.
In Banteay Kdei’s main temple chambers you will find frescos or carvings of ‘Apsara Devata’ or female deities found in Hinduism and Buddhism. One of the interesting things about Cambodian culture is that it has a beautiful blend of Hinduism and Buddhism within it’s religious practices.
The Bats of Banteay Kdei
This temple is the only one that I have found with bats hanging inside the temple. We didn’t see them at first, we smelt them! We saw small poops on the pedestals.
‘Is that bugs or poops?’ My mom asked.
‘Smells like poo!’
‘Well, if that’s poo, what’s pooed?!’
Then we looked up and saw this….
As well as bats, the surrounding jungle areas are full of lizards, spiders, ants and snakes. Beware not to sit on any tree logs or put your bag down near jungle trees – you don’t know what you might get on you! We saw fire ants which bit my mom quite seriously while we were there, so definitely avoid the red ants.
Don’t miss this jungle temple if you are visiting the Siem Reap temples!
Further Reading – More on the Temples of Siem Reap
If you are visiting Angkor Wat, don’t miss my Angkor Wat ticket guide and the ultimate Angkor Wat guide. If you are lucky enough to be spending more than just a couple of days there, you should certainly make the trip to some of the outlier temples such as Banteay Samre, Banteay Srei and the Roluos group.
Get to the large temples either very early (sunrise or 7.30am) or alternatively later on in the afternoon to miss the heat of the day. Another good tip is to do the temple loops in reverse as everyone starts at Angkor Wat, so why not end up there? My other top tips include…
- Book a good tuk-tuk driver for the day who will wait for you outside the temples.
- Take water
- Cover your shoulders and wear long pants
- Wear comfortable walking boots
What to Pack for Cambodia
Take light cotton tops, long comfortable trousers and maxi dresses that cover your shoulders. Thailand is a conservative Buddhist county and you are likely to be refused entry to top sites like the Phnom Penh Royal Palace and Angkor Wat with shoulders showing and shorts or short skirts. You can pack shorts and vest tops for hanging around your hotel or the pool.Table could not be displayed.
Pack a water bottle because many guest houses are eco friendly and have a refill and reuse policy to cut down on plastic waste. The drinking water is fine and many hotels supply cold purified drinking water.
Bugs bite particularly in the evenings in Cambodia and so a bug repellant is essential. Also the sun can get hot – this Christmas and New Year temperatures were exceeding 32 degrees and so sun screen is another essential.