Back to Back Issues Page
Bangkok Travelbug Jan 2022 Khmer Shrines in Sa Kaeo
January 20, 2022

Khmer Shrines in Sa Kaeo

Dear friends and readers, Happy New Year! We sincerely hope that you will have a healthy and happy year ahead of you. In the first issue of the Bangkok Travelbug 2022, we continue with our exploration of Sa Kaeo Province in Eastern Thailand.

Sa Kaeo Province is 190 km east of Bangkok. It's right on the Thai-Cambodian border and has five Khmer shrines or prasat. The Thai-English dictionary defines prasat as an abode of the gods in the clouds, a tower or temple which houses a shrine. The architecture is Khmer, a legacy of the Angkor Empire (9th – 12th C).

For more on these Khmer shrines, please see Prasat Hin Phimai

Dvaravati, a Buddhist civilization in the Mon language in Central and North-east Thailand during the 6th – 9th C also had a strong influence on these places.

As we were in Sa Kaeo visiting these shrines was a must. The five shrines are:

  1. Prasat Khao Noi Si Chompu in Tambon Khlong Nam Sai, Aranyaprathet

  2. Prasat Muang Phai in Tambon Muang Phai, Aranyaprathet

  3. Prasat Sdok Khok Thom in Amphur Khok Sung, Sa Kaeo

  4. Prasat Khao Lon in Amphur Ta Phraya, Sa Kaeo

  5. Prasat Ban Noi Huai Pa Yai in Amphur Watthana Nakhon, Sa Kaeo
Let's take a look at each of these historical treasures in Sa Kaeo

Contents (click on the link to go directly to the topic)
Prasat Khao Noi Si Chompu

We started our exploration on our second day in Sa Kaeo at Tambon Khlong Nam Sai, a sub-district south of Aranyaprathet that's bordering Cambodia. We drove along a road through thick forest, then walked up a long flight of steps before we reached our first destination, Prasat Khao Noi Si Chompu about 12 km south of Aranyaprathet.

Road to Prasat Khao Noi

The long flight of steps up the hill

This ancient shrine is located on Khao Noi, a hill that's 130m high and it took 254 steps to reach the top. It was constructed in 7th C AD and consists of three prang (towers). The central prang still stands, the other two are only left with their bases.

The three prang

Close up of the base of the prang on the left

Artefacts from this prasat, consisting of pottery and stone inscriptions dating back to 637 A.D are believed to be oldest inscriptions in Thailand. Prasat Khao Noi was declared a national monument by the Fine Arts Department in 1935.

View to the east

The lintels and statues found at this site are now displayed at the Prachinburi National Museum. I was lucky to have photos from this museum taken during my visit in 2014, please see Prachinburi National Museum

7th C Khmer art from Prasat Khao Noi on display at the Prachinburi National Museum


Prasat Muang Phai

Our second location after Prasat Khao Noi was Prasat Mueang Phai just 5 km south of Aranyaprathet. We spotted a signboard that pointed to an isolated track and followed the track all the way. It led us to a farmer's house!

The track we followed

I got down to ask for directions. The farmer was kind enough to stop his work and took me on a short walk just outside his land. He pointed to an empty field with a small grass mount which we passed on the way in.

All that remains of Prasat Muang Phai at the site

He explained that all the artefacts here have been taken away for preservation. Later I found out that the Fine Arts Department had removed these artefacts for display in the National Museum in Bangkok. This would give more people a chance to view these historical items.

This prasat is estimated to date back to the 12th – 14th C A.D.


Prasat Sdok Kok Thom

On the third day we visited Prasat Sdok Kok Thom in Tambon Khok Sung 40 km north of Aranyaprathet. This is the biggest, best organised and the most impressive site so far. This site also has the most complete ruins as well.

Wall with sign at the entrance to Prasat Sdok Kok Thom

The Information Centre

Map of the temple complex

The way to the complex

View of the front wall

In the inner courtyard facing the prang with the shrine

Prasat Sdok Kok Thom, the biggest shrine in Eastern Thailand, was built in 857 A.D. The stone inscriptions on lintels are kept in the National Museum in Bangkok. There are some displayed in the Prachinburi National Museum as well.

11th C Khmer art from Prasat Sdok Kok Thom displayed in the Prachinburi National Museum


Prasat Khao Lon and Prasat Ban Noi Huai Pa Ya

We left the visit to Khao Lon till the last day, the day before our departure. This sanctuary is the almost 50 km from Aranyaprathet, the furthest location.

We had to ask the way and a kindly resident led us on her motorcycle to the track leading to Prasat Khao Lon. Unfortunate heavy rain the night before turned the track into a muddy mess which may not be passable to non-four-wheel drive vehicles. Anyway, we didn't want to take the risk of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere!

Here are some photos of the state of the tracks.

Track leading to Prasat Khao Lon

Prasat Ban Noi Huai Pa Yai which is just 19 km from Aranyaprathet was no better. One look at the state of the track and we turned around.

Track to Prasat Ban Noi Huai Pa Yai

In the end, we had to settle for three out of five sanctuaries in our visit list, which I guess isn't too bad.

With that my dear readers, we complete our exploration of Aranyaprathet and Sa Keao. For those who are celebrating the Lunar New Year on 1 February, I wish you a healthy, prosperous and successful Year of the Tiger.


Map of Khmer Shrines in Sa Kaeo

If the map doesn’t appear, click on this link

How to get there

From Bangkok get onto the Sirat Tollway – highway 7 (Bangkok- Chonburi New Road – route 314 – route 304 – route 33 which takes you all the way to Sa Kaeo, Aranyaprathet and the Thai-Cambodian border.


Next month

Scenic beauty in Lopburi

See you then. Have a healthy and happy year in 2022

If you enjoyed reading this e-zine, please forward it to a friend. If you received this from a friend and found it interesting, please subscribe at Bangkok Travelbug.

What do you think of the Bangkok Travelbug?

We love to hear from you

What other subscribers have said

Eric Lim
Tour Bangkok Legacies
Find us on Facebook

Bangkok’s Hidden Treasures – the other faces of Bangkok

This is my third e-book which is a journal on my travels in Bangkok from late 2011 to early 2018. It’s a journey to the less travelled and lesser-known places in Bangkok, places that are treasure troves of history, art and culture of the diverse communities that make up Bangkok and Thailand.

This journey will take us from the rice fields of Nong Chok near the eastern city limits of Bangkok across the city to the canals in Thawi Wattana in the west.

Let's uncover these gems in Bangkok's hidden treasures together.

Copyright@2008-2022 Tour Bangkok Legacies
All rights reserved
Back to Back Issues Page