Within Angkor Archaeological Park
Daily, 7:30am – 5:30pm
Admission: Included in Angkor Pass ($37/$62/$72)
Washroom On Site: No
Once at the heart of the East Baray reservoir on an artificial island, East Mebon is now a sun-baked, landlocked temple far from any water these days. With three tiers and five towers, this temple is like a miniature version of the nearby Pre Rup. A mini Rup, if you will.
A short set of stairs will take you up and over the enclosure wall. Right in front of the base, you might encounter a vendor who sells prints of quintessential Khmer images: Apsaras, elephants, and the churning of the ocean of milk scene from inside Angkor Wat. Their wares are neatly arranged on the floor, so be careful not to accidentally step on them while gawking at the pyramid.
In the perimeter between the wall and the base are foundations and shells of what used to be galleries. Squat staircases will take you three levels high to five towers at its uppermost tier. Don’t worry, the climb isn’t as laborious as the one at Pre Rup! Unless you’re in a hurry, I recommend doing a circuit of the levels as you ascend. Remember that most of this used to be underwater and only reachable by boat. When climbing the stairs, this would be where a vessel would’ve dropped you off.
East Mebon is definitely a fan of elephants. At the four corners on the first and second tiers, statues of placid pachyderms gaze out over Angkor Park. Most are in pretty good condition where you can see the detail of their beaded harness around their neck.
Just before you get to the upper sanctuary, these stone elephants will be replaced by stubby towers in various states of ruin. Two lions guard the staircase to the top platform. There will be a pair on each of the four sides, so if one side is too crowded, head around to an alternate one to go up. Although, certain sides will have lions in much better condition than others if you are looking for a good photo.
The five towers on the uppermost tier all have their openings facing east and false doors on the other three sides. Do note the lintels, which have scenes that differ from tower to tower and, in the case of the central tower, different scenes on each side. The central tower will also have two lions standing sentry at its four sides, but some are heavily damaged or completely missing on certain sides.
There is only one entrance/exit at East Mebon and, not surprisingly, it’s on the east (just now sensing a pattern here). Across from its entrance, there are a number of clothing stalls and cafes. Your options for food might be limited, but if you’ve got a hankering for coconut juice or maybe even a beer, you can enjoy one here before moving on.