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Time Required : You can explore the temple and the surrounding area in a day.

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Banteay Srei, Siem Reap Overview

One of the most popular attractions in all of Cambodia, the 10th Century temple Banteay Srei is located in the province of Angkor in North West Cambodia. The temple is known as a precious gem among all the temples and is described as a jewel of Khmer architecture. It is also significant as it is a major temple not built by a ruling king. Banteay Srei was built with the purpose of sole dedication and honouring of the God Shiva of the Hindu religion. Compared to other Angkor temples in the area in terms of size, it is quite minimal. But the lack of size is compensated by the high level of detail in all of the carvings in the temple.

Initially called Tribhuvanamahesvara, the modern name Banteay Srei translates to ‘citadel of the women’ or the ‘citadel of beauty’ in the local language. There has been speculation over why this is, including the belief that the Khmer women may have built it, given the exquisite design and intricate architectural work. It is also commonly believed that the name concerns both the miniature scale of the temple in terms of size and the pink colour of the sandstone used to in the temple’s construction. Whatever the truth is, the beauty of the temple remains unparalleled.

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Ticket details

The entrance fee for admission to Banteay Srei Temple is included with the temple pass for central Angkor. Foreigners are required to buy an admission pass, called the Angkor pass, which can only be purchased at the official ticket centre, located 4 kilometres away from Siem Reap town. It is open from 5:00 AM to 5:30 PM every day. The entrance ticket can be purchased either by cash (US Dollars, Cambodian Riel, Thai Bath or Euro) or by credit card.

Tickets issued after 5:00 PM are only valid from the next day. There are three types of admission passes available, depending on the number of entries:
1-Day: USD 37 for a day pass
3-Days: USD 62 valid for ten days
7-Days: USD 72 valid for one month

Best time to visit

Early morning or late afternoon are the best times to visit Banteay Srei temple. It is partly due to the exposure of the temple, with little to no shade leaving you roasting in the sun. It also takes on a pink tint during both sunrise and during sunshine in the morning, which allows for some spectacular photo opportunities.

Banteay Srei History & Significance

The history of this Hindu temple dates back to over 1,100 years. Despite having to be restored multiple times and being subject to vandalism, Banteay Srei still retains its history, and the carvings are mainly untouched. The temple was constructed to represent a demonstration of wealth, power and the worship of the Hindu gods. It was a famous temple where many festivities and rituals took place during its period of use and glory.

Banteay Srei was first consecrated in the year 967 AD by a Brahmin priest. It means to this day it has laid immaculately preserved for over centuries. The temple was then expanded further during the year 1119 AD and was used frequently until the year 1303 AD. It was just over a century ago in 1914 that it was rediscovered. In the 1930s, the temple complex went through a period of restoration and is the version of the temple that we see today.

Banteay Srei Architecture

The Banteay Srei building is mainly made up of massive red sandstone that allows you to see the wall carvings of the temple. Visitors in the past have been blown away primarily by the sheer beauty of the sculptures inside the temple that are unrivalled even by those found in the much larger temples. Banteay Srei is a monument with the most intricate architectural work among all the temples in Siem Reap. The high level of intricacy, craftsmanship and accuracy to produce these pieces of art over a thousand years ago have left visitors, architects, scholars and archaeologists baffled.

The temple enclosure consists of three concentric structures. A colossal gate forms the outermost compound, which leads to the Gopura or the second gate. In the centre of the sanctuary, the innermost gate or the third Gopura is the axis and is the area where you’ll find the highest density of carvings with no space on the walls left untouched. These carvings are complemented with a combination of floral and geometrical motifs. Many of these sculptures bring to life ancient Hindu stories illustrating great battles between the Hindu gods.

How to reach

When travelling from the main bunch of Angkor temples, the most popular way to enter the temple is by car or bus, and you’re typically looking at around a 30-minute drive. A day’s hire of a tuk-tuk from the town around the major temples at Angkor Wat and back should cost around USD 15-25. For a guided tour, expect to pay closer to USD 25.

Tips for Visiting Banteay Srei

The drive to the temple provides access to some beautiful scenery through small villages and rice fields. On your way there you will pass by the Landmine Museum. It is a museum that specialises in relief work for children affected by landmines and is worth a visit on the way past. Alternatively, if you want to get to the temple for a specific time slot, you can always visit the centre on your way back to the main complex.

You can also take a small boat trip in the lotus pond behind the temple depending on the time and season of your arrival.

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