Cambodia Chronicles: The Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

Cambodia has been on my to visit list since I became enthralled with traveling. The picturesque Angkor Wat and its romantic reflection have been on my mind for quite some time now. Last year, I had the chance to book a direct flight to the Kingdom of Wonder through Cebupacific's promo fare.

Angkor Wat
I touched down at Siem Reap airport before 10PM. The time there was delayed by an hour Philippine time. I looked for the airport transfer provided by the hostel I booked, Siem Reap Holiday Garden. I booked a dorm room that cost $4.5 a night which had basic accommodations that were clean and the dorm room had its own bathroom. I like talking with fellow travelers from different parts of the world and listen to their stories about their trips. It was an uneventful first night, and I was stoked to go on a tour to Beng Mealea the next day.

The Romantic Jungle Ruins of Beng Mealea

I booked a tour with Beyond Unique Escapes to go to Beng Mealea. I initially wanted to go their on my own but figured that it was too far (77 km from Siem Reap) and too expensive for a solo traveler to go there. The tour I booked cost me $32 with food transportation, a guide, and good company. There was another $5 fee for the entrance to Beng Mealea.

The making of sticky rice
The tour kick started with a side trip to a sticky rice maker/vendor. If you've had suman or any other rice cake in the Philippines, the sticky rice from Cambodia is nothing special. Unsurprisingly, they look like Filipinos (I was spoken to in Thai or Cambodian in a handful of instances), same scenery, and almost same kind of food and produce.

The guide gave us a historical background of why the sticky rice was put in bamboo instead of clay pots. The warriors of the Khmer kingdom fought long wars against foreign invaders. When they drew their weapons the clay would often break and spill the food or burn their backs, leaving the soldiers hungry after battles. The king then decided to change the clay pots into bamboo to make life easier for the warriors.

Banteay Srei II
Before Beng, we made a quick stop to Banteay Srei II. These ruins were left in disarray because of the pillaging during the wars. People were left hungry and with no work to get food so they decided to pillage the ruins and sell it for money or food to eat.

Beng Mealea
Entering Beng Mealea gave me a feeling of nostalgia and a hint of romanticism. The ruins reminded of how fast things can change for a powerful kingdom. The green moss on the rocks and tree roots piercing through the walls, stones, and galleries were simply surreal.

Beng Mealea
Beng Mealea is translated into "Lotus Pond". This temple was built for the Hindu gods but strangely had Buddhist undertones, and follows the architectural design of Angkor Wat. Beng Mealea was primarily made with sandstone.

The seven headed mythical creature is a huge part of Hindu lore and is scattered throughout the temple.

Beng Mealea
Hindu mythology was intricately carved into the stones and walls of Beng Mealea.

Beng Mealea
The guide was well versed and knew a lot about the structure and Hindu mythology.

Beng Mealea
Walking up and down fallen debris and broken walls was definitely a one of a kind experience. You can feel the excitement moving through your veins once you climb up.
Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea
Me doing my Indian Jones impression by climbing up the stones.

After a few hours, the droves of tourists started to arrive it didn't ruin my stay though because I got to see the ruins before it got too crowded. The best time to visit Beng Mealea is before 9AM, you can allot at least 3 hours to explore and get lost in Beng Mealea.

It was already after lunch when the tour ended. On the way back to Siem Reap I pimped Biri island to the German woman sitting next to me. Since she hadn't been to the Philippines I decided to show some of the pictures of Biri Island to her I was happy that she found it amazing. She even asked me if it was a national park of sorts, but sadly it was not. I try to make it a point to sell the Philippines to the foreigners I meet on my trips since there were a lot of them that go around Southeast Asia but don't pass through the Philippines.



  1. I'd love to go and visit those ruins with the one I love. First on the agenda: find someone to love! :)

  2. oooohhhh .. this is my very first choice in visiting countries outside Philippines... my friends just recently visited this...

  3. I was able to visit Angkor Wat twice and Cambodia at least once a year. Angkor Wat is still amazing and Cambodia is fast on the rise.

  4. OMG Cambodia is one of my dream destinations! I remember Angkor Wat as one of the famous structures in the world in World History subject during high school :)

  5. what a remarkable place..thanks for the info and pictures you shared!

  6. Those place looks really interesting, How I wish I can visit it too this year. Im sure you had really fun in this travel.

  7. To be honest, this post further solidifies my stereotype of Cambodia: a country making money from its ruins :P

  8. Cambodia is a great place to visit since they have preserved their architecture.. and their culture is so awesome.. but it's also awful in a way at how slavery was done in their country.. poor Cambodians..

  9. Ang ganda ng place.One of the tourist spot that travelers should not miss to visit.

  10. You're one courageous solo traveler! I'd love to see Hindu mythology carvings someday too!.. and yes, continue to promote the beauty of our country!! (why not be an agent too?!)

  11. Interesting place. I only see this on movies, like Indiana Jones settings. Great to travel here.

  12. Got your own temple run..
    Exploring one of the most grandest and exquisite temples ever built.
    it maybe in ruins, and may also feellike a grave in these days, but it still is an architectural marvel

  13. Also a dream destination for me. I just want to see for myself this magical Angkor Wat and unveil its secrets.

  14. This is actually the first time that I'm reading about Beng Mealea, when compared to all of the Cambodia posts that I've read online. At least now, I've found a new location to traverse when I finally find myself traveling there. I was supposed to last November. But our time was already too tight to make for another excursion.

  15. the ruins is something i see in books and movies... i hope someday i can actually see it in cambodia. Yahweh bless.

  16. The place do really have rich history and culture. Angkor Wat is a must see personally for me.

  17. I thought those stone debris are just a size of a hallow block but when you pose behind those rubble... they are gigantic bricks!

  18. This is a good read. I'm amazed to know about these heritage places in Cambodia. :)

  19. I had been to Cambodia but never to this awesome site. Great read for this one Joshua. Thanks for visiting my site and I appreciated it very much.

  20. it was really true what my mom's boss said about the beauty of cambodia. I really wanted to go there after I graduate.

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