Exploring the Awesome Wat Nokor in Kampong Cham
I’ve been to dozens of temples throughout southeast Asia, but none have been blended two time periods quite like Wat Nokor (also known as Banteay Prey Nokor) in Kampong Cham. From the exterior, it’s a well-preserved temple from the 11th century that wouldn’t look out of place at the Angkor Archeological Park. That’s enough to justify a visit if you’re in Kampong Cham, but it’s the interior that makes this place a must-see.
Inside the temple walls (listen closely and you can hear hundreds of bats squeaking) is one of the most garishly colored modern temples I’ve ever seen. Emerald green dragons adorn the columns. Rainbow flags run across the length of the interior. Bright paintings on the ceiling depict Buddhist scenes. The bright colors of the ruins’ insides scream out from the original black sandstone near the altar.
Historical purists might be turned off by the modernization. I see it as an asset to both visitors and the community in Kampong Cham. This temple is still being used regularly for services, so it’s modern amenities is practical for the community. The juxtaposition of the two styles is a fascinating sight for tourists.
Wat Nokor is about 2 km from Kampong Cham’s riverside area on National Road 7, en route to Phnom Penh. You’ll eventually come to a big traffic circle and a sign on the left-hand side will point you to the short paved road leading to the temple. National Road 7 is in good shape, just watch out for heavy traffic and many passing trucks.
I’ve seen some guidebooks saying there’s an admission fee of $2. I didn’t have to pay. While there, I encountered a pair of tourist police at the entrance and they asked me in Khmer if I was a tourist. I pitifully responded that I work in Phnom Penh, so perhaps I received a free pass for my limited conversational skills.
This tourism guide has lots of technical details about the architecture.
I'm an American freelance writer who spent a couple years living in Cambodia. Now I'm on the move again and traveling all over the place. I'm willing to try any bizarre liquor that's presented to me. Any recommendations?