Last year I had the opportunity to do a small excavation at the site of Chau Srei Vibol. Although the excavation wasn’t very productive, I enjoyed spending several days at this beautiful and quiet site that doesn’t see many tourists.
Chau Srei Vibol sits about 17 km directly east of Angkor Wat and was built in the 11th century. It is surrounded by a huge moat (about 1450 meters east-west and 970 meters north-south). Inside the moat is another laterite wall. The temple is located on top of a small hill that requires some light climbing.
Also on top of the hill and directly next to the Angkorian ruins is a modern Wat. When we visited it was quiet and we didn’t see many people around. Since the temple is fairly collapsed you can do some climbing around to check out the picturesque ruins.
The eastern portion of the site is still heavily forested, and when I visited last year (2012) it was still mined. Stay on the marked paths and away from the “Danger: Mines” signs and you’ll be fine. The upper part of the hill with the ruins and modern Wat are safe to walk around, as is the cleared area on the western half that includes the water reservoir.
There has been little scholarly work done on Chau Srei Vibol. It seems to be located in an area that may have been modified as part of the early water management network. A recent dissertation that employed Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) showed evidence for some destroyed structures inside the enclosure. Our excavations were looking for evidence of post-Angkorian habitation inside the enclosure, but we found little evidence in our small excavation units.
Overall, Chau Srei Vibol is a nice trip outside the main Angkor park. Pack a lunch and enjoy the park-like surroundings free from hoards of tourists.
Other “Off the beaten path at Angkor” trips:
–The Baray Reach Dak tour