Bakong: The Cornerstone of Angkor’s Majestic History

Bakong stands as a monumental testament to the early Angkor period, marking a significant chapter in Cambodian history. Located in the Roluos group, about 15 kilometers southeast of Siem Reap, this temple predates the famous Angkor Wat. It offers visitors a glimpse into the dawn of Khmer architectural brilliance.

Unveiling the History of Bakong

King Indravarman I constructed this temple in the late 9th. At that era, Bakong served as the state temple of the first Khmer capital, Hariharalaya. It is revered as the first temple mountain, symbolizing Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology. This pioneering structure laid the groundwork for future temple mountains in the region.

Architectural Splendor of Bakong

When you enter the premises of Bakong Temple from the east side, you will be greeted by a Naga statue at the bridge that crosses the moat. Although it is not in good condition, it is a large naga with a very stately appearance.

Naga at Bakong

Bakong’s grandeur lies in its five-tiered pyramid structure. Moat remnants are surrounding the temple. They evoke an image of a sacred mountain emerging from the ocean. In addition, the temple complex has intricate carvings, lintels, and statues that narrate tales of Hindu mythology, primarily dedicated to Shiva.


Exploring the Sacred Grounds

Visitors are greeted by a causeway leading to the central sanctuary, flanked by Naga balustrades and guardian lions. From there, the ascent to the summit offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and a closer look at the sanctuary’s detailed carvings. The presence of Buddha statues in the temple also reflects the syncretism of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs in ancient Cambodia.

One of the few reliefs in good condition remains at the base of the fifth layer, the Ashura relief. Other than this, only a faint relief remains. And most of the reliefs that once surrounded the fifth layer were already gone.

Bakon relief

Below is the view from the top of Bakong Temple. Comparing to other temple ruins, there are few reliefs here. However, it seems that many of them have already been weathered. There are statues such as elephants, so please look for them.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Bakong is during the cooler months from November to February. To experience the temple in the best light, you’d better visit there in early morning or late afternoon. It also avoids the midday heat.

How to Get There

Bakong is easily accessible from Siem Reap. It is a convenient day trip for those exploring the Angkor region. Local tuk-tuks, bicycles, and guided tours offer various ways to reach the temple.


There are several Angkor tours that visit Bakong. Find a tour that visit Roluos Group.


2 responses to “Bakong”

  1. […] that visit this temple. Find a tour that visit Roluos Group. Roluos group include temples such as Bakong and […]

  2. […] that visit this temple. Find a tour that visit Roluos Group. Roluos group include temples such as Bakong and Preah […]