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Travel Report: Wat Preah Prom Rath, Siem Reap.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple Siem Reap.

Wat Preah Prom Rath.

January 2020.

I remember feeling surprised by how just incredibly clean and colourful Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple is. In fact, both Sladja and I were literally blinded by columns of kaleidoscopic light as we entered the complex. These competing streams danced around us in all directions under the glare of the afternoon sun.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple.

Wat Preah Prom Rath.

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 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.

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.

This translates roughly as “monk with freshly cooked rice in his pot”. Not the catchiest nickname in the world, but hey it got the point across. Visitors to the temple can follow his story through a number of beautifully painted panels running all around the inner courtyard.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple, Siem Reap.

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 the city.

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 use several pieces of his wrecked boat. According to Cambodian historians… and bear with me here… this very same Buddha lies hidden away at the back of the main shrine.

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. Sounds a bit more plausible.

Reclining Buddha head Wat Preah Prom Rath

The head of the Reclining Buddha.

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. Back out in the garden, there are a whole host of sculptures, statues and animal topiaries to enjoy. One grisly installation shows a man murdered by The Khmer Rouge, a pair of vultures pecking away at his insides.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Siem Reap Cambodia.

Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple, Siem Reap.

For many overseas visitors it’s a sobering even shocking sight. But actually such statues are common in the temples of Cambodia. A regular reminder that the genocide years and the people they claimed should never be forgotten. Elsewhere, we stumbled across 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 at least half an hour of your time. Furthermore, it’s centrally located, just a short walk from The Central Market. So be sure to include it in any walking tour of downtown 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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  • 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. 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
    • Leighton

      Hey Rebecca, it only took me just under two years to reply to this comment. *facepalm*. This reminds me that my Siem Reap series is roughly when you started following and commenting. Thanks for your readership!

      June 15, 2022 - 8:39 am Reply
      • Rebecca

        Haha, no problem! I forgot that I even commented on this post! 😆

        June 15, 2022 - 10:12 pm
  • Little Miss Traveller

    You are definitely inspiring me to visit Cambodia one of these days Leighton!

    June 15, 2022 - 10:40 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Marion, for such a small city Siem Reap is packed with sights and it’s not all about the Angkor Temples.

      June 15, 2022 - 10:46 am Reply
  • ourcrossings

    Wow, just look at this place; set on beautiful grounds, with colourful murals and even a huge indoor sleeping Buddha statue, it is one temple you simply must visit while you are in central Siem Reap. I love its colourful wall paintings and beautifully decorated rooms. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    June 15, 2022 - 10:43 am Reply
    • Leighton

      It’s a beauty Aiva and a real contrast to the ancient ruins of Angkor. Thanks for reading and contributing to the thread.

      June 15, 2022 - 10:47 am Reply
  • kagould17

    A beautiful recreation and it was thoughtful to show the darker side of their history. If a light is not shone on this, people will forget and it will happen again. Preah Ang Chong Han Hoy could be a rapper’s name, until you translate it. Thanks for sharing Leighton. Happy Wednesday. Allan

    June 15, 2022 - 1:52 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      You made me laugh about the rapper. Because it’s funny and true. Thanks Allan for touring this overlooked temple with me.

      June 15, 2022 - 2:14 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Such colorful splendor all around. I just love the building’s aesthetics. The statue of the man being eaten by vultures definitely would stop anyone in their tracks since it is such a grisly contrast to the bright and color of the rest of the temple. But that’s a good way to always keep that in mind and never take it for granted that it was as much part of the story as the nicer parts were.

    June 15, 2022 - 2:46 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Meg, glad you appreciated the vibe of this temple, warts and all. It’s such a fascinating spot that you can just stroll into and explore free of charge. Hope you and the family are doing well your side of the pond. We are still recovering from a nasty bout of COVID, but slowly getting through it.

      June 15, 2022 - 4:33 pm Reply
      • grandmisadventures

        Thanks, we are doing well here on this side of the pond. We’ve gotten into the hot and sticky of summer in the south so we’re looking forward to cooler days. I’m so sorry that you got hit with Covid and got hit hard with it. Sending you all the wishes of a speedy recovery!

        June 15, 2022 - 4:43 pm
      • Leighton

        Thanks Meg, it’s been rough but really hoping we’re over the worst of it.

        June 15, 2022 - 4:46 pm
  • travelling_han

    I love the colours and the brightness, it looks like a lovely place. We are re-booked for Cambodia in 2023 so adding this one to the list 🙂

    June 15, 2022 - 4:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      So kind of you to comment the second time around Hannah. Cambodia will always have a special place in our hearts, hope you have a blast next year.

      June 15, 2022 - 4:41 pm Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    So interesting, Leighton! I am now intrigued by Cambodia: the artwork, the beauty, the religion. The Buddha statues are fascinating as are the sculptures. The one with the vultures is one of those that you don’t want to look at but can’t help yourself – like a car wreck. But I understand that they don’t ever want to forget the horrors of what took place there. Again, thanks so much for sharing your travels – I am learning a lot.

    June 15, 2022 - 5:34 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Kellye, I’m glad you’re enjoying these Siem Reap reports. There are so many more to come over the next few months, hope you continue to enjoy the ride.

      June 15, 2022 - 5:49 pm Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    Wow, that looks like such a detailed, elegant, and colorful temple!

    June 16, 2022 - 2:59 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for stopping by Allie!

      June 16, 2022 - 9:14 am Reply
  • Stan

    Colorful is right! With all the focus on the Angkor ruins I can see why a modern shiny temple such as this may get overlooked, well done for mopping it up

    June 16, 2022 - 10:43 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Stan, it’s an underrated Siem Reap gem. Thanks for keeping up with the series.

      June 16, 2022 - 11:26 am Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens


    June 16, 2022 - 1:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment!

      June 16, 2022 - 1:22 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Such an interesting place to explore! I do love all the bright colors and I can tell it is incredibly clean.

    June 16, 2022 - 1:18 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for dropping by Lyssy. This temple definitely gets the ‘Shiniest’ award and the legend brings a fun angle to the place.

      June 16, 2022 - 1:21 pm Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    What a neat temple with a lot of history. The collection of statues seems interesting. I love the shrub that’s been shaped into an elephant.

    June 16, 2022 - 2:59 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading!

      June 16, 2022 - 4:11 pm Reply
  • KhmerStyle

    this temple rarely gets crowdy. Great that you visited, heard the legend and left an online footprint

    June 18, 2022 - 9:34 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading!

      June 18, 2022 - 9:36 am Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    You’re right Leighton, it certainly is clean (and almost appears new). Everything is so colourful – even the statues. And I liked the story of the “rice nicknamed monk” … so not original, but what better way to describe such a man 😄.

    June 19, 2022 - 6:47 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for checking out this underrated Siem Reap temple Corna!

      June 19, 2022 - 8:15 pm Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    We didn’t visit this temple in Siem Reap, looks beautiful. By the way I first opened it on the mobile app and there were no pictures. I read a few comments talking about the beautiful pictures and wondered how I missed them. Anyway when I opened it up on the web I could see them, but not on the app, not even an indication that there should be pictures. Maybe because it’s a repost? Anyway thought I’d let you know. Maggie

    June 19, 2022 - 8:28 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Maggie, thanks for letting me know. Every time I hear about a gremlin with articles it always relates to the Wordpess app. Very annoying. I just checked myself and, sure enough, I also see that none of the photos show. They are all there though, both in my editor and showing on desktop and regular mobile format. I shall bring it up with WP support, thanks again. And cheers for taking the time to check the web version!

      June 19, 2022 - 8:48 pm Reply
      • Monkey's Tale


        June 19, 2022 - 10:03 pm
      • Monkey's Tale

        On another note, are you getting a lot of followers lately where the blog is ‘Coming Soon’? I’ve had probably 25 or more in the past month. It seems odd, but I can’t see what they get out of it. They don’t like a post, just follow. Just wondering if it’s happening to others too. M

        June 20, 2022 - 3:47 pm
      • Leighton

        Ah Maggie, at this point I feel I could write a series of blogs about WordPress itself. The gremlins, the WP reader… likes… comments… followers. How some blogs grow so vastly and others don’t. What the science really is behind the numbers game. But anyhoo, the short answer is yes! I get lots of followers from what I would describe as “empty suit” accounts. People who follow and you never hear from them again. Nine times out of ten I can identify such accounts the moment I take a look at them. Another thing I’ve been looking into recently are those accounts who relentlessly “like” your comments on other blogs week in week out year after year but never once register a footprint on your blog. I think I know what’s going on there 🙂

        June 20, 2022 - 3:59 pm
      • Leighton

        By the way, is it just me or are my photos magically back on the WP app for this article!?

        June 20, 2022 - 4:06 pm
      • Monkey's Tale

        No the pictures aren’t on my app, I just checked. I get a lot of likes on comments too and yet they never like my posts. They think we won’t notice and just go to their site? And also the 15 likes in one minute, then never heard from them again. Oh WordPress…

        June 20, 2022 - 4:13 pm
      • Leighton

        Ha ha it’s a whole little world of its own.

        June 20, 2022 - 4:15 pm
  • ThingsHelenLoves

    That statue with the vultures is like someone clapping their hands hard, right in front of your face. So much beauty and than…bam! Feels wrong to say I ‘like’ it, but I applaud the way Cambodia seems to be able to work through and memorialize recent history. It’s a testament to the Cambodian people.

    June 20, 2022 - 12:41 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Helen, thanks for dropping by. The genocide memorials are widespread across the country and yeah, many of them don’t hold back. Appreciate your comment!

      June 20, 2022 - 3:45 pm Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    The temple looks absolutely magical. I loved the story of the monk, and his name!

    June 20, 2022 - 6:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Ruth, I’m glad you enjoyed this somewhat underrated Siem Reap temple.

      June 20, 2022 - 6:34 pm Reply
  • Sham Ram

    Cambodia has a rich history of Buddhism, and Buddhist temples are a prominent feature of the country’s cultural landscape. Your pictures inspire me. I now definitely visit that place next year.

    April 25, 2023 - 11:04 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Sham Ram, I couldn’t agree more and am glad you have been inspired to visit this temple. I have written dozens of articles about Siem Reap, I hope you find some more places to add to your visit list! Take care.

      April 25, 2023 - 11:08 am Reply

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