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Wat Hanchey, Cambodia

Among cultural sites in Kampong Cham, Wat Hanchey is a must-visit sacred place that you should not miss when traveling through the charming land. About 20km up the Mekong River from the provincial town of Kampong Cham, Wat Hanchey is a pre- Angkorian temple situated atop a small remote hillock right on the shore where offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Mekong River in pleasant days. 
The temple was an important centre of Hindu worship during the Chenla Empire and now is inhabited by predominantly Buddhist monks. The oldest part of Wat Hanchey is the ruins of an ancient red-brick stupa dating from the 7th or 8th century, even before the thriving age of the Khmer Empire when the grandiose Angkor Wat and Angkor Thim were built in the 12th century. The complex now has more recent monuments such as temples, pagodas, stupas, houses, and distinct statues, which showcase the great combination of Hindu and Buddhist architecture. Nowadays, the residents in this area are Buddhists, but the ancient temple which once was used to dedicate to Hirahara - a god in Hindu religion still stands beside the other newer 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.
In Mekong River Cruise Itinerary, tourists will follow a travel distance on the road from the cruise’s mooring position to reach the temple of Wat Hanchey up the main highway. After climbing about 300 steps, besides enjoying the panoramic views overlooking the lush land below and the serene Mekong River, visitors will have the chances to marvel at the impressive architecture of numerous beautiful buildings around the complex with typical exquisite Khmer patterns, soak up the sacred and incredibly tranquil atmosphere of an ancient religious site, and witness the simple yet happy life of the monks and locals around the area. If lucky, you will see the ceremony of the monks or collecting alms from the villagers and Cambodian pilgrims along the tree-lined road here. Upon stepping foot into Wat Hanchey, you will witness the notable spectacle of the young novice monks, clad in bright saffron robes in their daily lives with praying, studying, hanging out, and taking a break with each other around the temple. They are always delighted to meet outsiders and you may have a light banter with some of the monks and even ask for being given a blessing if possible. An amazing highlight of cultural diversity in Cambodia meticulously included in riverboat programs that well-worth a visit.

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