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Tourists eye Cambodia's new world heritage site

Reuters logo Reuters 4 days ago

Tourists flocked to Cambodia's newest world heritage site on the weekend, the 16th and 17th century forest temple of Sambor Prei Kuk after it was recently added to the U.N. cultural organisation's heritage list.

With its inspiring and tumultuous history, Cambodia attracts tourists from around the world who often make a beeline for the Angkor Wat temple complex, another world heritage site.

On July 8 UNESCO added Sambor Prei Kuk or "temple in the richness of the forest" in the Khmer language to its heritage list. Located 206 km (128 miles) north of the capital Phnom Penh, it is home to numerous temples, 10 of which are octagonal.

UNESCO said Sambor Prei Kuk had been identified as Ishanapura, the capital of the ancient Chenla Empire, a Khmer civilization that flourished in the late 6th and 7th centuries and preceded the Khmer Empire.

It joins the Angkor Archaeological Park and the Preah Vihear temple, located on the Thai-Cambodia border, as world heritage sites.

A sculpture at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen, at the UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia

A sculpture at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen, at the UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia
© REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Cambodian tourists visited Sambo Prei Kuk on Saturday. One couple took wedding photos at the site.

Tourists visit Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, after it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province © REUTERS/Samrang Pring Tourists visit Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, after it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia © REUTERS/Samrang Pring Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia

"Now that it is listed as the world heritage site, I hope that our people will benefit a lot from this and I say many thanks to our ancestors who built this and kept it for us until this generation," said Sem Norm, a temple guard, adding that he has been taking care of the temples since 1994.

A tree is seen at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province

A tree is seen at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province
© REUTERS/Samrang Pring

Others hope tourism will help to boost the local economy.

"When we have more tourists then the people here can get more income by selling the souvenirs and our kids can even learn English language easily," said tourist Uch Srey Leakhena.

Tourists visit Sambor Prei Kuk, an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia © REUTERS/Samrang Pring Tourists visit Sambor Prei Kuk, an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia A woman pray inside of a temple at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia © REUTERS/Samrang Pring A woman pray inside of a temple at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia

Thousands are expected to celebrate the listing of Sambo Prei Kuk as a world heritage site on Monday.

A tourist visits Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia © REUTERS/Samrang Pring A tourist visits Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in Cambodia A man walks at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, after it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia © REUTERS/Samrang Pring A man walks at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, after it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia

Tourist arrivals in Cambodia rose 5 percent to five million last year. About 5.5 million tourists are expected to visit the country this year.

(Reporting by Lach Chantha, Pring Samrang; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Michael Perry)

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