Wat Hanchey - The Vibrant Symbol of Culture in Cambodia
by Top Mekong Cruises Mar 05, 2017
Located at the top of a hill 20km north of Kompong Cham, Wat Hanchey will satisfy you with not only its beautiful structures but the breath-taking views over the Mekong River as well.
I,HISTORY OF WAT HANCHEY
Wat Hanchey, which is considered as a thriving religious site is a complex of both Hindu and Buddhist temples. The oldest part in this complex dating from 7th or 8th century plays an important role in the worship during the time of Chenla Empire. In Khmer's belief home of Hindu gods was on the Mountain Meru, but there was no actual mountain in this part of country. Thus, people built the temples on the hill which was modeled the cosmic mountain to worship gods. When Cambodia was under the reign of Chenla Empire, Wat Hanchey was an important place for those who were on the journeys between the pre-Angkor cities to take a rest. Under the rule of Khmer Rouge, the buildings in Wat Hanchey complex were damaged and they have been restored recently. Let's travel with Top Mekong Cruises to uncover the hidden charms of this beautiful temple!
Wat Hanchey - A Must-see Temple in Cambodia
II, WHAT TO EXPECT AT WAT HANCHEY
1. Great Views
To go on the top of the hill visitors can use motor scooter but I recommend you to climb over 290 steps since it’s a good way to improve you health and enjoy the beauty of nature on the both sides of stairway.
The Stairways to reach the top of Wat Hanchey
Thanks to its hilltop's position, Wat Hanchey Cambodia offers visitors the panoramic view overlooking the Mekong River, promising great photo opportunities. The mood around here is also full of fresh air and the comfortable smell of alluvium from the Mekong River.
The Temple is located right at the bank of Mekong River
2. Impressive Architecture
The most notable structure in this complex is Chenla-era brick sanctuary. This temple is a weather-worn red brick structure dating back to the 8th century. The decoration seems to peel off, so we just can see original shape without the outer layers. However, if visitors contemplated it carefully, they can find the well-preserved inscriptions in ancient Sanskrit on the lintel. Nowadays, the residents in this area are Buddhists,but this ancient temple which once was used to dedicate to Hirahara - a god in Hindu religion still stands beside the other temples worshiping Buddha. It seems to represent the relationship between the past and present in Cambodia and remind people about the Khmer’s veneration to their religious history as well as religious monuments.
An Ancient Stupa in Wat Hanchey
Another outstanding structure here is Theravada pagoda which dedicates Buddha. The one-storey building was built in Khmer style with the main colors are yellow and blue. The stunning sculptures and statues such as nagas and lions with different colors inside and outside the pagoda leave strong impression on visitors. Going inside the pagoda is good ways to enrich your knowledge about Buddhism through the colorful paintings on the wall and ceiling. You are also given a traditional water blessing and a string tied around your wrist to bring luck and happy.
Besides, visitors can also find some beautiful temples, pagodas, stupas and statues. One of the new structures is very unique with special decoration and architecture such as some paintings depicting the life of Khmer people.
Typical Khmer Patterns on Wat Hanchey
Beautiful statues are displayed around or front of structures. Some of statues are people in traditional customs, some are wild animals, and some are huge fruits. The local say that each statue here usually depicts something or someone in the past, for example, the mythical hero or creature.
The Statue of Sacred Legend in Wat Hanchey
3. Plain Life of Local Monks
Noticeably, Wat Hanchey is also home to many young Cambodian monks. Everyday, their daily lives going on by praying, studying, hanging out and taking a break with each other around the temple. Setting foot in the temple by lunch, you will see their simple meals, mostly donated by local people and Cambodian pilgrims. You will also have a chance to receive traditional water blessing given by them before living the temple.
The Young Monks Taking a Break after Studying
A local giving offfering in Wat Hanchey
III, HOW TO GET TO WAT HANCHEY FROM SIEM REAP & PHNOM PENH
Wat hanchey Cambodia is located in Kampong Cham, 260km from Siem Reap and 124km from Phnom Penh. Hence, it is recommended not to take a Cambodia tuk tuk to get there, as this mean is not so comfortable and enjoyable for you. You can also get there by private car or motorbike if you already had one. Don’t forget to bring the map. For more safer options, consider our suggestion below:
1. Local Bus
There are several options for bus to get from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap at really affordable prices. However, you should catch the earliest bus as you can to avoid delaying, waiting or reaching Krong Kampong when the night falls.
Although taxi in Cambodia is not a popular transportation mean, it is a bit more comfortable than bus as you certainly have to pay more like $15 to get from Phnom Penh and $25 from Siem Reap. Additionally, the condition of Cambodia taxi is not really good. Make sure to check the car’s air-conditioner before getting inside.
Suggested Read: The Best Ways to Get from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Krong Kampong and the Wat Hanchey is the route of Cambodia to Vietnam River Cruises. The cruise is suitable for those who don’t have so much time to explore single attractions in Indochina but still want to catch a glimpse of these 2 countries. Moreover, you will have opportunities to relax, admire the stunning nature along the Mekong River.
Slow boats to Kampong Cham are available in Phnom Penh. However, they are often crowed with locals and it takes quite long to get to Wat Hanchey Cambodia.
An interesting Journey on Mekong Princess Cruise
Wat Hanchey Cambodia is just one of many unique attractions you will see in this mysterious land of the Angkor Wat. Hopefully, you will have a bit more information about this temple after reading our post. Continue your Indochina trip with us by reading our Mekong Cruise Tips or Top 10 Things to Do and See in Cambodia