Banteay Srei, Angkor, Cambodia Photo Essay

The sound of my alarm going off at four forty five in the morning is usually something I absolutely dread, but on this particular morning I felt a wave of excitement and adrenaline normally reserved only for special occasions. Given that this was the last day of our tour around the temples of Angkor by tuk-tuk, I was ecstatic to explore one of my favorites – Banteay Srei. As we meandered along the dark paths/roads passing rural Cambodian villages and farmland, I felt the cool morning breeze comforting my face. When we finally did arrive at the temple (this particular temple is one of the furthest away from the central ones) I was in for a real treat.

For the first time in all of the many years I’ve explored the Temples of Angkor, I was the first one to arrive. I couldn’t have wiped the smile off of my face even if you had paid me handsomely. As we wandered around the temple complex we felt as though we were actually exploring the temple rather than touring it. We were even given a special VIP tour (we did pay the guard a bit of money under the table) of an area of the temple that is normally off limits to tourists.

Banteay Srei is considered by many observers to be the ‘crown jewel’ of Khmer art given the elaborate and highly detailed decorative carvings lining its many walls. Built chiefly of red sandstone, this Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva was completed in the 10th century. The temple itself was once used as a University for Buddhist scholars. It’s personally one of our favorites in all of Angkor, Cambodia.

The following is a photo essay and travel video from our experience visiting Banteay Srei:

These distinct sculptures are one of the highlights of visiting Banteay Srei Temple.

These distinct sculptures are one of the highlights of visiting Banteay Srei Temple.

A closer up photo of a statue with its arm broken off.

A closer up photo of a statue with its arm broken off.

The intricate design and bas-relief carvings in Banteay Srei really set it apart from the other temples of Angkor.

The intricate design and bas-relief carvings in Banteay Srei really set it apart from the other temples of Angkor.

Some more details of the relief carvings in sepia.

Some more details of the relief carvings in sepia.

A series of doorways - going through each one makes you feel as though you're traveling back in time.

A series of doorways – going through each one makes you feel as though you’re traveling back in time.

Here Audrey is posing in one of the windows.

Here Audrey is posing in one of the windows.

A closer up shot of Audrey in the same window.

A closer up shot of Audrey in the same window.

Even the columns have detailed designs carved into them.

Even the columns have detailed designs carved into them.

This is a photo from around the perimeter of the temple.

This is a photo from around the perimeter of the temple.

A framed shot through a doorway entrance.

A framed shot through a doorway entrance.

Another perspective shot of the chiseled designs - many of which have crumbled over time.

Another perspective shot of the chiseled designs – many of which have crumbled over time.

This is easily the most colorful temple I visited in all of Angkor as showcased by this door.

This is easily the most colorful temple I visited in all of Angkor as showcased by this door.

The doorways are tiny as modeled here by Audrey Bergner.

The doorways are tiny as modeled here by Audrey Bergner.

This is a photo of the main entrance gate to Banteay Srei as I approached the temple.

This is a photo of the main entrance gate to Banteay Srei as I approached the temple.

Another shot of the door from a closer up perspective at Banteay Srei.

Another shot of the door from a closer up perspective at Banteay Srei.

The main entrance gate leading to Banteay Srei.

The main entrance gate leading to Banteay Srei.

I edited this shot to really enhance the colors which are impressive up close and in real life.

I edited this shot to really enhance the colors which are impressive up close and in real life.

This is a travel video we took from Banteay Srei documenting our entire experience


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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenna April 18, 2013 at 4:57 am

Wow, I can definitely see why this is one of your favorite temples. Amazing architecture and details.

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Samuel April 20, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Thanks Jenna! It truly is one of the more impressive temples of Angkor :)

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Nat April 18, 2013 at 8:18 am

Fantastic pictures although it seems rather small in size?

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Samuel April 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Thanks Nat! I’m going to have to look into that. I think I made them 1000×1000 but maybe not :(

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Emma Spires April 18, 2013 at 9:02 am

Amazing photos Sam! I am planning to visit Cambodia in September / October and cannot wait to see these temples, looks like you and Audrey had a wonderful time :-)

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Samuel April 20, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Thanks Emma! That’s so exciting you’ll be visiting the temples soon. I have a feeling you’ll absolutely find them fascinating.

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Maria April 19, 2013 at 10:26 am

Timeless beauty within those walls.
I often wonder how it is that so much detail could exist despite the ravages of time, weather, war.
Wow!

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Samuel April 20, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Thanks Maria!

That truly is incredible. These temples have survived so much over the years it’s truly mind boggling.

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Kerry (Goodtrippers) April 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

This is one of my favourite temples of the region – thanks for sharing your pictures of the beautiful carvings! Lots of people miss the lesser known temples in favour of ‘sunrise at Angkor Wat’ but always worth getting out to the further reaches of the area for gems like this!

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Samuel April 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Thanks Kerry! You’re absolutely right about that! The hidden gems are those temples on the outskirt areas.

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Stephanie - The Travel Chica April 23, 2013 at 10:12 am

The color definitely makes this one stand out from the photos of other temples I have seen.

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Samuel May 3, 2013 at 7:26 am

It does, Stephanie. It’s a lot richer in colour because of the sandstone that was used. :)

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Sam @ Travellingking.com May 6, 2013 at 7:58 am

WOW! Incredible series of photos!
This is something I would love to see in person!

The intricate carving – wow!

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Suzette Hays May 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Distance from Siem Reap to Banteay Srei is 37km (55 minutes by car, over an hour by Tuk Tuk and three hours and a half by bicycle). From Siem Reap, take Sivatha Road and continue until you reach the Angkor Wat Moat. Turn right, and continue past Srah Srang, turning right along the north edge of the reservoir, until you reach Pre Rup as the road turns North again. Turn right before the East Mebon towards Preah Dak village and then turn right again at the junction. Follow north and you will arrive to the point where the road splits into three lanes. Take the one on the left and follow it all the way to Banteay Srei which you will reach shortly after crossing a river. You can visit Banteay Srei at any time of the day although at early morning and midday there will be fewer visitors.You can combine a visit to Banteay Srei with other Siem Reap temples further afield .

Reply

Zane N. Guerrero May 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Distance from Siem Reap to Banteay Srei is 37km (55 minutes by car, over an hour by Tuk Tuk and three hours and a half by bicycle). From Siem Reap, take Sivatha Road and continue until you reach the Angkor Wat Moat. Turn right, and continue past Srah Srang, turning right along the north edge of the reservoir, until you reach Pre Rup as the road turns North again. Turn right before the East Mebon towards Preah Dak village and then turn right again at the junction. Follow north and you will arrive to the point where the road splits into three lanes. Take the one on the left and follow it all the way to Banteay Srei which you will reach shortly after crossing a river. You can visit Banteay Srei at any time of the day although at early morning and midday there will be fewer visitors.You can combine a visit to Banteay Srei with other Siem Reap temples further afield .

Reply

Harald July 26, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Thank’s for sharing the photos of Banteay Srei. My wife and I visited the temples in 2011, but we missed the Banteay Srei temple. In September we will be going back to Siem Reap with our adult daughter, and after seeing your photos, we will surly visit Banteay Srei. My daughter and I love photography, and will travel with (2) Canon 5D 2’s. Thanks again for the beautiful photos.

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