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Travel Report: Wat Preah Prom Rath, Siem Reap.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple Siem Reap.

January 2020. I remember feeling surprised by how incredibly clean and colourful Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple is. In fact, both Sladja and I were literally blinded by a cauldron of sparkling colours as we entered. These competing streams danced around in all directions under the glare of the afternoon sun. Indeed, I had never seen a Cambodian temple quite like this.

Wat Preah Prom Rath dates back to 1915 when local authorities built it on the site of a former Hindu temple. The main shrine didn’t open until 1945, which goes some way to explaining how shiny and new the place looks. Moreover, the custodians here clearly do a great job of keeping the place so spotless. Certainly not the case for many of the pagodas and temples I’ve seen across Cambodia.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple.

A special temple dedicated to a unique story.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple, Siem Reap.

Curiously, the temple stands in dedication to an ancient folk tale about a Siem Reap monk. Once every few months, he’d travel to the city of Long Vek in order to stock up on rice. He used to come back with so much rice that he soon earned himself the nickname Preah Ang Chong Han Hoy. Which translates as “monk with freshly cooked rice in his pot”. Visitors to the temple can follow his story through a number of beautifully painted panels running all the way round the inner courtyard.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Siem Reap.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple, Siem Reap.

The monk used to travel to and from Long Vek by boat. In the temple garden, you can find a replica of the vessel in question. The monk even has a pot of rice clutched in his hands, which is a nice little touch. As the legend goes, the monk found himself under siege from a group of sharks during one of his voyages back to Siem Reap. Luckily, he managed to survive and what was left of his boat eventually made it back to SR.

Wat Preah Prom Rath.

The main shrine at Wat Preah Prom Rath.

Mr. Monk felt so delighted at his good fortune he decided to build a reclining Buddha to celebrate! What’s more, he made sure to incorporate several pieces of his wrecked boat. Apparently… and bear with me here… you can see his ancient Buddha hidden away at the back of the main shrine. Yup, several sources claim this is the original buddha the monk made.

What To See & Do, Siem Reap.

Reclining Buddha Siem Reap.

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Preah Prom Rath.

However, we’ve also read several articles stating that the Buddha is not the original piece. Rather, they claim King Ang Chan built it specifically to honour the legend. Whatever the truth, it’s a fun tale and one that brings a visit here to life as you saunter around drinking in the atmosphere.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Siem Reap Cambodia.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple, Siem Reap.

Back out in the garden and there are a whole host of sculptures, statues and animal topiaries to enjoy. One grisly installation shows a Khmer man murdered by The Khmer Rouge, a pair of vultures pecking away at his insides. Elsewhere, there’s a tribute to Prince Siddhartha Gautama, The Lord Buddha and the story detailing his path to enlightenment.

Prince Siddhartha Gautama statue Siem Reap.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple, Siem Reap.

Wat Preah Rath Temple is free to enter and well worth half an hour of your time. Furthermore, it’s centrally located, just a short walk from The Central Market. Be sure to include it in any walking tour of central Siem Reap.

Elephant topiary Siem Reap.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple, Siem Reap.

Like this? Check out more of my travel reports from Siem Reap.

Or maybe delve further afield with my articles from across Cambodia.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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8 Comments

  • Zoewiezoe

    If they ever invent teleportation….this is going on my list!

    September 20, 2020 - 12:41 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha! Thanks, I have informed the Leighton Travels team to start work on the teleporter right away. Bear with us!

      September 20, 2020 - 12:45 pm Reply
      • Zoewiezoe

        My hero! <3

        September 20, 2020 - 12:46 pm
  • Memo

    Undoubtedly colorful and attractive except for the grisly statue. What was its purpose in a Buddhist temple?

    September 20, 2020 - 12:42 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Just a tribute to those who died during the Khmer Rouge years. It’s fairly common to see some kind of reference to the genocide in temples and pagodas. The grisly monuments seem to be the preferred way of doing it.

      September 20, 2020 - 12:44 pm Reply
  • travelling_han

    These are beautiful photos. We are planning to visit Cambodia Oct/Nov 2021 and learn more about this amazing country and it’s shocking (recent) history. I find the macabre monuments in reference to the genocide very different to most monuments I’ve seen remembering such events (but equally as impactful, if not more!). Thanks for sharing your posts – will definitely be using them to plan our trip.

    September 20, 2020 - 11:24 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for the kind words. I agree, I have never seen such gruesome statues and sculptures in remembrance of genocide. Don’t miss tomorrow’s article on one of the former killing fields in Siem Reap. Appreciate you taking the time to comment!

      September 20, 2020 - 11:28 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    Wow, Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple is stunning! New and shiny might be a put-off for some travelers who may want a more rustic, “authentic” architecture. But even new and shiny has history within it, and I’d love to visit the temple if I’m ever in Siem Reap. PS: that elephant hedge looks so cool!

    September 21, 2020 - 12:44 am Reply

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