The temple on the hill

Pre Rup, Siem Reap Overview

Pre Rup is one of the oldest structures, located south of East Baray in Siem Reap in Cambodia. King Rajendravarman II built this mountain temple in 961 AD. It was the capital and also a state temple during his reign. A temple dedicated to Hindu God Shiva, it is popular among tourists for the gorgeous sunset views.

Pre Rup is notable for different views of the town and landscapes it offers. If you climb the five-storey building, to the east, you can see the mountains of Phnom Kulen. On the west, you can see the towers of Angkor Wat and other temple ruins on the horizon. Pre Rup also offers some of the best views of Siem Reap's countryside laden with paddy fields.

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Ticket details

The entrance fee for admission to Pre Rup 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 Baht 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

The best time to explore Pre Rup complex is during the early morning when the sunshine is milder or in the evening. You need at least one hour to explore Pre Rup, excluding the time to reach.

Pre Rup History & Significance

Pre Rup in local language means 'Turning the body,' a name attained because bodies were turned in specific directions during traditional funerals that were held here. Pre Rup was a giant ancient crematorium, evidenced by its location and the large buildings with ruins resembling pyres. The exact period during which the complex operated as a main crematorium is not precisely known, since inscriptions found during excavation mention that Pre Rup was also a capital city with a Hindu state temple.

Historically, Pre Rup was the second temple which also functioned a capital city. When King Jayavarman VII became the King, he built the new capital Angkor Thom, which remained the administrative centre for more than 400 years. It is estimated that Pre Rup got abandoned like rest of the temples in the late 16th century when the Khmer empire began to decline. After being discovered lying amidst dense jungles with others, parts of Pre Rup were restored and later on became a part of the UNESCO heritage sites.

Architecture

Unlike other structures in Siem Reap built in just sandstones, Pre Rup was constructed using bricks, sandstone and laterite. The warm tone of these materials makes for some spectacular hues during sunsets.

Pre Rup symbolises Mount Meru, the home of Hindu gods. An outer wall, surrounded by a moat and two entrance gates with towers form the outer sections of the temple, out of which just traces of the wall remain. There were six huge entrance towers with intricate sculptures, a unique feature of Pre Rup. Five of these are still visible, passing which you'll arrive at the inner enclosure.

There were two large libraries separated by a corridor with a statue of a sacred bull at the centre. Beside this, there is a stairway with mounted lions that leads to the top. The upper part houses five beautiful towers, which is the centre of attraction even today. The large tower at the centre had intricate sculptures of Hindu gods along with many inscriptions in Sanskrit. Only the base of these towers remains today.

What to wear

As with the other temples in Siem Reap, it is expected that tourists dress appropriately. Women need to cover their shoulder at all times and wear knee-length attire. Sleeveless shirts and shorts aren't also allowed for both men and women. The rules are strictly followed, and you might be denied entry by the guards if you fail to obey them.

General tips

Keep enough water and stay hydrated at all times. Wear sunscreen while visiting temples. And finally, temple touring involves a lot of walking, so take sufficient rest in between the temples.

How to reach

When you buy your tickets, you get a tourist map which shows the various locations of temples, grouped into Grand circuit and small circuits for easy navigation. And Pre Rup falls under the Grand circuit. So if you take up this trail first, then you’ll likely visit Pre Rup after East Mebon.

If you’re coming from Angkor Thom or Ta Prohm, pass through Srah Srang to further come across Pre Rup on the left.

The easiest way to reach the temple is by car or bus, and you’re typically looking at around a 30-minute drive from Siem Reap's city centre. A day’s hire of a tuk-tuk from the town around the major temples at Angkor and back should cost around USD 15-25. For a guided tour, expect to pay closer to USD 25.

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