TOURISTS flocked over the weekend to Cambodia’s sixth and seventh-century forest temple of Sambor Prei Kuk after it recently became a Unesco World Heritage Site.
With its inspiring and tumultuous history, Cambodia attracts tourists from around the world who often make a beeline for the Angkor Wat temple complex, another World Heritage Site.
On July 8, Unesco added Sambor Prei Kuk – “temple in the richness of the forest” in the Khmer language – to its heritage list. Located 206km north of the capital Phnom Penh, it is home to numerous temples, 10 of which are octagonal.
Unesco said Sambor Prei Kuk had been identified as Ishanapura, the capital of the ancient Chenla Empire, a Khmer civilization that flourished in the late sixth and seventh centuries, preceding the Khmer Empire.
It joins the Angkor Archaeological Park and the Preah Vihear temple, located on the Thai-Cambodia border, as World Heritage Sites.
Cambodian tourists visited Sambo Prei Kuk on Saturday. One couple took wedding photos at the site.
“Now that it is listed as a World Heritage Site, I hope our people will benefit a lot from this. I say many thanks to our ancestors who built this and kept it for us until this generation,” said Sem Norm, a temple guard, who has been taking care of the temples since 1994.
Others hope tourism will help to boost the local economy.
“When we have more tourists, then the people here can get more income by selling the souvenirs and our kids can even learn English language easily,” said tourist Uch Srey Leakhena.
Thousands are expected to celebrate Unesco’s recognition of Sambo Prei Kuk on Monday.
Tourist arrivals in Cambodia rose five percent to five million last year. About 5.5 million tourists are expected to visit the country this year. – Reuters