Phimeanakas means celestial temple, it is located in the middle of the old Royal Palace, aligned with King Jayavarman VII’s Victory Gate and to the west side of the Terrace of Elephants.

The Hindu temple symbolizes a Sky Palace and used to be a place to worship the gods. The three-tier pyramid is smaller than other temple in the Angkor area but has an impressive height of about 40m, including the platform and remaining gallery on top.

Phimeanakas had walls surrounding it made from Laterite with 600m length, 300m width, and 5m height. There are five gates, whereas the east gate used to be the most important. Here the king, ministers and common people would enter the temple. The north gate was used for transport purposes only. The steps on all stairs are ornamented with Garudas figures. Inside the temple are two pools which were used for bathing, one for male and the other one for female visitors.

Phimeanakas Temple Overview

The temple of Phimeanakas is situated near the center of the area enclosed by the walls of the Royal Palace. It must originally have been crowned with a golden pinnacle, as Zhou Daguan described it as the Tower of Gold The temple is built of roughly hewn sandstone blocks and has little decoration.

According to legend there was a gold tower (Phimeanakas ) inside the royal palace of Angkor the Great where a serpent-spirit with nine heads lived. The spirit appeared to the Khmer king disguised as a woman and the king had to sleep with her every night in the tower before he joined his wives and concubines in another part of the palace. If the king missed even one night it was believed he would die. In this way the royal lineage of the Khmer was perpetuated.

Below is the glimpse of Phimeanakas Temple in 360o viewing:

The history of Phimeanakas

Phimeanakas was built at the end of the 10th century by King Rajendravarman and completed by King Suryavarman I. It was built as a Hindu temple in the Khleang style inside the Royal Palace of Angkor Thom.
It’s believed that an earlier structure was built here in the early part of the 10th century and knocked down to make way for Phimeanakas. There is an inscription which as been dated to 910 AD and mentions a structure which was dedicated to Vishnu.


The temples at Angkor were all deserted at some point in the 16th century and Phimeanakas was the same. It is not exactly known why the Khmer deserted these great structures.

20th Century – Today

The French explorer, Henri Marchal, discovered a broken stela which was apparently written by King Jayavarman VII’s second wife. It tells us about the king and his both his first and second wives. The queens had an important role in spreading the Buddhist religion across the kingdom. The stela also shows battles between the Khmer and the Chams as well as King Jayavarman VII’s coronation.

Most of the structure remains intact and has been open to tourists for years. It’s widely visited and welcomes thousands of visitors each day.

The Architecture of Phimeanakas

The general plan of Phimeanakas is rectangular. the temple originally consisted of a Central Sanctuary on a tiered base and an enclosing wall. The grounds around the sanctuary included several courts and ponds.
A laetrile wall encloses the temple and a second enclosing wall was built at a later date. Next there is a dry moat.

The sandstone entry tower at the east is in the shape of a cross with two wings; the lintels have a central motif of a head of a Kala and the window frame is inscribed. These features are not shown on the plan.: eave the tower and walk towards the main sanctuary. On the right (north) there is a pond with molding and laetrile steps. It may have been a part of the palace reserved for woman.

Return to the center walkway; after leaving the entry tower turn right and follow a path until you come to another large pond paved in laterite with sandstone steps. It was bordered by two stairways with bas0reliefs-along the side there are serpents in animal and human form surrounded by serpent-princesses; on the top there are male and female Garudas and mythical winged figures.

This entire area was probably crowned by a serpent balustrade and may have served as a gallery for the sovereign and dignitaries of the court. It is separated from the north-enclosing wall by paved causeways and from another pond on the east.

Central Sanctuary

The single sanctuary is on a base with three laterite tiers. It is approached by four steep stairways, one on each side. These stairways are framed by walls with six projections- two per step –decorated with lions. Elephants once stood on sandstone pedestals in the corners of the base but today they are mostly broken.

Upper Terrace

The upper terrace affords a spectacular view of the neighboring temple of Baphuon. A narrow covered sandstone gallery (2) with windows and balusters at the edge of the upper terrace is a unique architectural feature. There were small pavilions at the corners but only vestiges remain.

What to do & see at Phimeanakas Temple

Entrance gopura

The temple is oriented towards the East. The main entrance consists of a gopura building with a central entrance door with a single tower on top of it, flanked by two somewhat smaller entrance doors. The door jambs contain an inscription dated 1011 of the oath of allegiance to the Angkor King.

3 steep tiers of the pyramid

The Phimeanakas pyramidal structure consists of 3 tiers of diminishing size. At the base the structure measures 35 meters long by 28 meters wide, the upper platform measures 30 meters long by 23 meters wide. A very steep stairway leads to the top on all of its four sides guarded by lion statues. Most accessible is the one on the Western side, which is equipped with a handrail. At the corners of each of the tiers are guardian elephant statues.

Galleries and sanctuary at the top

On top of the pyramid is a platform surrounded by small galleries. These were the first vaulted galleries to be built in Angkor, which have been copied on a grander scale in the later monuments. These galleries probably replaced older galleries made out of perishable materials. At the center of the platform are the ruins of a small cruciform sanctuary with four vestibules opening to each of the cardinal points. The structure was likely a later addition to replace the original wooden structure, the “Golden Tower” that Zhou Daguan describes in his accounts of Angkor.

The Phimeanakas stele

In 1916 Henri Marchal of the EFEO discovered a broken stele during excavation works of temple near the Eastern stairway up the temple. The stele, written by King Jayavarman VII’s second wife, contains a wealth of information about the King, his first wife who had passed away and his second wife. 

The stele tells of the important role the two Queens had in the spreading of Buddhism and of their achievements. It also describes a number of important events that took place during the life of Jayavarman VII, such as battles between the Khmer and the Chams and the King’s coronation in 1181.

The Legend of the 9-headed Serpents

The accounts of Zhou Daguan, the Chinese diplomat who lived in Angkor for a year at the end of the 13th century tell about a legend, believed by the common people of Angkor.

On top of the Phimeanakas, known as “the Golden Tower” lived a spirit in the form of a nine headed snake, that is the Lord of the Khmer Kingdom. Every night the spirit appears in the form of a woman. The King had to climb to the top of the tower and sleep with the spirit. Should he fail to do this for one night, a great disaster is to strike the Kingdom. In case the spirit fails to appear, the King is about to die.

Preparing for visiting Phimeanakas Temple

Temple Facts

  • Date: Late 10th century
  • Religion: Hindu
  • Built By: Rajendravarman / Suryavarman
  • Dedicated To: Unknown
  • Style: Khleang
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime
  • Length of Visit: 30 - 60 minutes
  • Temple Pass: Required


Phimeanakas temple is located inside the Royal Palace in Angkor Thom. It’s just north of Baphuon temple and West of the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of Leper King. A few hundred metres to the north is Prasat Preah Palilay.

Check the location of Phimeanakas on Google Maps for your reference:

Getting There

You can reach Phimeanakas on foot from Baphuon in the south, Terrace of the Elephants in the East, or Preah Palilay in the north. Most visitors will approach the temple from the East as the Angkor kings would have done. As you’re walking from the Terrace of the Elephants, keep going for around 200m. There is a path through the trees which will take you to the front of the temple.

Phimeanakas Tours

Tours of Phimeanakas are often included in variations of the Small Circuit and Big Circuit tours. In some cases, the small tour will bypass many of the temples in Angkor Thom and just take you to the “big three” of Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm.

Many small circuit tours do stop at other temples in Angkor Thom including Phimeanakas, it’s best to check the tour itinerary before you book.


Like all temples in Angkor Thom, there are no places to stay in the vicinity. As most tours will leave from the town and visit many temples in the area, it’s likely that you will find accommodation in Siem Reap. There are many hotels of all sizes and prices. Some popular hotels can fill up quickly in the high season, so it’s sometimes best to plan ahead.

Why Visit Phimeanakas?

Phimeanakas is a temple with a story and everyone loves a good story! It’s also part of the royal enclosure, so it’s likely that you’ll pass through at some point during your visit. The area surrounding the temple is thick with trees and ponds which make it feel a little cooler which is great if you’re visiting in the hot afternoon.

Phimeanakas Temple Photos

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Taking a cruise on the fascinating Mekong River offers a unique and memorable travel experience. The Mekong River, one of the longest rivers in Asia, flows through several countries, including China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Each destination along the river offers its own distinct cultural, historical, and natural attractions. In this article, we will go over what you can expect when cruising the Mekong River. 


Preah Vihear Temple (Prasat Preah Vihear) is an ancient Hindu temple built during the period of the Khmer Empire, that is situated atop a 525-metre (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, in the Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. In 1962, following a lengthy dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over ownership, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled that the temple is in Cambodia.

Affording a view for many kilometers across a plain, Prasat Preah Vihear has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the six-century-long Khmer Empire. As a key edifice of the empire's spiritual life, it was supported and modified by successive kings and so bears elements of several architectural styles.

Preah Vihear is unusual among Khmer temples in being constructed along a long north–south axis, rather than having the conventional rectangular plan with orientation toward the east. The temple gives its name to Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, in which it is now located, as well as the Khao Phra Wihan National Park which borders it in Thailand's Sisaket province, though it is no longer accessible from Thailand.

On July 7, 2008, Preah Vihear was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Deep in the forests of Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, the elegant spires of an ancient stone city soar skyward above the sprawling complex of Angkor Archaeological Park.

The Khmer Empire’s various capitals thrived here from the 9th to 15th centuries, while their rulers presided over an empire that stretched from Myanmar (Burma) to Vietnam. Including forested areas and newly discovered “suburbs” Angkor covers more than 400 square kilometers.

Though just one of hundreds of surviving temples and structures, the massive Angkor Wat is the most famed of all Cambodia’s temples - it appears on the nation’s flag - and it is revered for good reason. The 12th century “temple-mountain” was built as a spiritual home for the Hindu god Vishnu. The temple is an architectural triumph laden with artistic treasures like the bas-relief galleries that line many walls and tell enduring tales of Cambodian history and legend.

In other parts of Angkor such art depicts scenes of daily life - offering scholars a precious window into the past.

Reading the below epic guide for Angkor Archaeological Park, you will have all the information you need from its history, maps, best time to visit and so on to have the best out of your Angkor tours


Banteay Kdei Temple (Prasat Banteay Kdei), meaning "A Citadel of Chambers", also known as "Citadel of Monks' cells", is a Buddhist temple in Angkor, Cambodia. It is located southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. 

Built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD during the reign of Jayavarman VII (who was posthumously given the title "Maha paramasangata pada"), it is in the Bayon architectural style, similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but less complex and smaller. Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister.

This Buddhist monastic complex is currently dilapidated due to faulty construction and poor quality of sandstone used in its buildings and is now undergoing renovation. Banteay Kdei had been occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries till 1960s.


Just east of Angkor Thom’s Victory Gate is Chau Say Tevoda. It was probably built during the second quarter of the 12th century, under the reign of Suryavarman II, and dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. It has been renovated by the Chinese to bring it up to the condition of its twin temple, Thommanon.


Thommanon Temple is a Hindu temple site that's covered in intricate carvings and surrounded by forests in Angkor. The temple is in relatively excellent condition, thanks to extensive restoration work in the 1960s.

It was constructed about the same time as Angkor Wat. The style of architecture is quite evident in the towers and carvings, which are in very good condition. During the rainy season, the dampened sandstone offers great photo opportunities.

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex dates back between the 11th and 12th centuries. It is about 600 metres east of the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, just opposite Chau Say Tevoda. Even before restoration, Thommanon was in much a better condition than Chau Say Tevoda. Unlike the latter, which was built using wooden beams enclosed in stone, Thommanon Temple's entire structure was made out of stone. 


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