5km east of Angkor Park
Daily: 7:30am – 5:30pm
Admission: Included in Angkor Pass ($37/$62/$72)
Washroom On Site: Yes
It’s about a twenty minute drive to this outlying temple. If you have any interest in making the journey out here, do it early in your trip before seeing the grander temples.
A short drive from Angkor Park, Banteay Samre is like the appetizer to the main entree that is Angkor Wat. It was built in the 12th century in the same style as the grand Wat. This temple originally used the same construction materials as Banteay Srei, but unfortunately restoration works have been done in a dull stone. The red lustre that is so striking at Banteay Srei is lost here and the majority of the architecture, especially the impressive gallery exteriors, have a greyish cast to them.
Banteay Samre is set up in a concentric square layout where enclosures will be surrounded by galleries. You’ll wander through the galleries, and likely the perimeter of the enclosure, before moving inward where the design repeats. The buildings are built on a raised base with short steps that will have to be climbed and descended every time you move to a new enclosure or into the scattered libraries. There is a decently wide lip on the exterior of the galleries if you’d prefer to walk in the sun and peek inside windows. On the east is a long causeway, but a few of the doors are roped off and this may be inaccessible to you on your visit.
Spoiler alert: Banteay Samre has a very similar look to Angkor Wat. The gallery enclosure is very similar to the outer parts of Angkor Wat, albeit on a much smaller scale. The inner sanctuary at Banteay Samre also looks like it could’ve been lifted from Angkor Wat’s inner sanctum.
It’s a shameful first-world problem, but getting “templed out” is a very real thing. After seeing all of these amazing temples day in and day out, they all begin to look alike. After a time, you may become jaded or even sour that a particular temple isn’t as impressive as the others. Banteay Samre is a site that you have to make a special trip for and possibly even pay extra money to go see, which can exacerbate the feeling.
A visit here will still wow you if you’re on your first couple of days in Siem Reap, especially if you haven’t seen Angkor Wat yet. However, I doubt you’ll see anything at Banteay Samre that you won’t see a better version of at another site. If you have any interest in coming here, I recommend doing so early into your trip before you get too templed out.
It would be a tad unreasonable to have a temple out here and not have a washroom. The toilets are not technically on-site, but a fair walk (about 300m) from the north entrance near where your tuk tuk will be parked. Your driver might drop you off on the west side, in which case you’ll have to walk through the temple then almost all the way to the parking lot to use the facilities. Try to have a comfortable bladder before coming here so you can use the different entrances and not have to backtrack and waste time.
How to get here
A tuk tuk driver, whether it’s one that you enlist that day or your regular man, will probably do the norm of charging a bit extra to go out to Banteay Samre. The price that we got when shopping around for drivers was $2. If, for some reason, your driver does not do this, consider yourself lucky that you got a deal.
You will drive through and exit Angkor Park via the 810 road, heading east until you turn south towards the temple. The rural road that you turn onto from route 810 has local homes and shops (mostly selling petrol and drinks) on both sides. It is a bumpy, dusty dirt road that is riddled with depressions where rainwater collects. Prepare to be jostled as your driver manoeuvres to the flattest patch of the road he can.
The journey by tuk tuk will take just under thirty minutes. Banteay Samre is close enough that you could try using e-hailing if you want to save some extra money. The village on the way to the temple might house some drivers who are hanging out at home and would be willing to do a quick job.