Koh Ker was the capital of the Khmer Empire from 928 AD to 944 AD. This was the only interruption in the almost 500-year history of the Khmer Capital being at Angkor. About 20 years after the establishment of the capital at Angkor, there was a breakdown in the line succession, and in 928 AD King Jayavarman IV, probably a usurper of the throne, created a new capital at Koh Ker.

The king created a large royal capital of Brahmanic temples and prasats (towers) that surrounded a huge baray (reservoir). He ruled here for 20 years until his death, and King Hashavarman II, his son, would remain at Koh Ker for some 3 years before returning the capital to Angkor.

Koh Ker - one of the highlights of 10 Hidden Temples in Siem Reap and 10 Must-See Temples in Siem Reap (Read all about Siem Reap here)

photo by BluesyPete (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

Features of Koh Ker

The most important structure here is Prasat Thom, a large temple complex built as a 7-tiered pyramid. Now, there is a loop road going around the reservoir, and prasats and small temple structures, and several ruins in good shape stand just off the road.

There are also many other remote ruins in the area that you can visit. The use of a knowledgeable guide is highly recommended. A round trip to Koh Ker from Siem Reap can take the better part of a day and can be combined with a trip to Beng Melea (an entrance fee applies).

Koh Ker is about 100 km northeast of Siem Reap. To get there, you can take the National Highway #6 east from Siem Reap to Damdek, turn north, and follow the signs. There is a toll road for part of the way. Always check road conditions before departing, especially in the rainy season.

photo by Bryn Pinzgauer (CC BY 2.0) modified

Koh Ker

Location: Koh Ker, Cambodia

Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveler