Images of Beng Mealea in Angkor

Seeking a private visit to any of the temples in Angkor is a near impossible task. Wherever you go and whenever you arrive, there will be hundreds if not thousands of tourists sharing the sites with you.

One notable exception, however, is Beng Mealea. This temple ruin is located almost 80 km outside of Siem Reap, so most people don’t make the journey (especially considering the state of some of Cambodia’s roads). But for those hardy enough to sit on the back of a rattling motorbike on bumpy for close to two hours, you will be rewarded by an extraordinary sight.

The jungles surrounding Beng Mealea have been left to take over the massive temple. Most visitors to Angkor get a similar experience with the enormous trees of Ta Prohm and their constricting roots. Beng Mealea takes the union of jungle and temple to a new level. Here, the temple is often indistinguishable from the vines and trees attempting to reclaim it. If ever you’ve had fantasies of being Indiana Jones, this is the place to be.

Visitors to Beng Mealea are free to explore the collapsed walls and buildings. There are few indoor areas left intact, but the many crumbling courtyards reveal themselves only after adventurers climb over piles of rubble.

The one modern touch at Beng Mealea is a walkway built for the filming of the movie Two Brothers. Other than this addition and the few other tourists that make it to the temple, it’s easy to forget what year it is. A solitary trek through Beng Mealea will make you believe you live in a time when there was much more left to explore in the world.

See my photos of Beng Mealea here. And a couple samples:

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