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Wat Hanchey: An Amazing Cultural Experience on Mekong River Cruises

Wat Hanchey, located north of Kampong Cham in Cambodia, is a religious landmark and historical remnant that will undoubtedly inspire some awe. Not only is it worth visiting alone, but this cultural site is also an important stopover on many Mekong River cruises.



About Wat Hanchey

Nestled atop a remote hillside 20 kilometers north of Kampong Cham, Wat Hanchey was originally erected as a Hindu site of worship under the Chenla Empire (which eventually fell to and merged with the Angkor Kingdom), but is now mostly occupied by Buddhist monks. The complex's structures, monuments, and architecture reflect both world-wide religions and part of Cambodia’s tumultuous history.



A ruined, red-bricked stupa is one of the few monuments that survived both American bombs and the Khmer Rouge, which is believed to date back to the Chenla era between the 7th and 8th centuries. This brick sanctuary was previously dedicated to Hirahara, a Hindu divinity. If you look closely, you will notice well-preserved old Sanskrit writings on the lintel. Meanwhile, the majority of the other sacred structures worshiping Buddha were built in recent decades, along with bizarre pieces of fruit and animal statues.


Great views over the mighty Mekong

Due to its hilltop location, Wat Hanchey affords tourists a panoramic view of the Mekong River, making it an excellent location for photos. After climbing over 290 steps, you will be greeted with the sights of monks in saffron robes, the sounds of chanting, and breathtaking vistas of the immense river. You can even feel the alluvium smell of the river in the fresh air.



Wat Hanchey Experiences

The first thing you notice when you enter Wat Hanchey are the young, cheery novice monks, clad in vibrant saffron robes. Any opportunity to interact with strangers always makes them happy.

Many of these inexperienced disciples are sent here by their families from the nearby villages. Wat Hanchey is home to these youthful Cambodian monks, who are studying, training, praying, and going about their everyday lives inside the complex's walls. Getting up early and having a modest meal that is donated locally is the start of a regular day. In their free time, they simply hang out and interact with one another like any other kids would.



Visitors to Wat Hanchey can also receive a traditional water blessing from a resident monk at the central yellow and blue-tinted pagoda.


How to get to Wat Hanchey

By land, travelers can take a tuk tuk, taxi, or motorbike to Wat Hanchey from the nearby town of Kampong Cham. The smooth trip may take about 30 minutes.

Tourists can also visit Wat Hanchey on one of the Mekong River cruises that regularly include this place of interest as part of their lower Mekong River cruise itineraries between Vietnam and Cambodia. For details, you can consider an 8-day Saigon-Siem Reap tour, a 5-day Phnom Penh-Siem Reap tour, or vice versa on Heritage Line’s luxurious boutique vessels, The Jahan and The Jayavarman, or on the RV Mekong Pandaw Cruise. Also, an 8-day Saigon-Siem Reap voyage or vice versa on the RV La Marguerite Cruise would do.



Please note that, though these cruises provide a visit to Wat Hanchey, the itineraries may change without prior notice.

Steeped in history, religious significance, and tradition, Wat Hanchey offers a more authentic experience without crowds for cultural buffs and river cruise passengers to Cambodia. After reading our post, hopefully you will know a little bit more about this temple. If you would like to explore it through a river trip, please contact our experts for the best deals on Mekong River Cruises.

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