Kompong Thom is really only known for two things – Pol Pot and Sambor Prei Kuk. The latter is the main tourist attraction in the province today and is a pleasant half-day trip from Kompong Thom town centre. The ruins are much older than the more famous Angkor to the northwest. Both are former Khmer capitals, with Kompong Thom being home to Isanapura, the centre of Cambodian civilisation starting in the 7th Century, during the timeframe now referred to as the Chenla Period. The city is named after the king who commissioned most of the construction, Isnavarman I, starting in the early 600s. Other kings who built temples in Isanapura through the 11th Century include Jayavarman I, Jayavarman II, Mahendravarman I, Rajendravarman II, and Suryavarman I.

Sambor Prei Kuk is divided into three main groups, Prasat Sambor (North Group), Prasat Tao (Central Group), and Prasat Yeai Poeun (South Group). Each are formerly walled complexes, with the walls on all but Prasat Yeai Poeun worn to the ground. There’s also two small smattering of temples, one north of the complexes and one south. All temples are within easy walking distance of each other, though there is minimal signage and we found it helpful to hire one of the guides who wait for customers in the parking lot to show us around — they’re friendly, knowledgeable, fluent in English, and you’re supporting their livelihoods


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