Neak Pean Temple, Siem Reap

Neak Pean is the temple of the ‘Entwined Snakes’ and located in centre of what was once a reservoir. It is one of the smallest temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park. To visit Neak Pean you need to buy a pass for the Angkor Archaeological Park which costs $37 USD for a single day, $62 USD for three days, and $72 USD for a week.

About Neak Pean

Neak Pean was constructed in the second half of the the 12th Century by the most prolific temple builder of the Khmer kings, King Jayavarman VII. The design of of Neak Pean sets it part from other temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park, and whilst it’s very small its uniqueness makes it well worth visiting.

The temple consists of a small circular island inside a 70 metres wide square pond, with 4 smaller ponds on each of the four sides of the main pond. The inner island is accessible by a walkway on the eastern side of the central pond. The inner island is 14 metres wide featuring an altar with a relief two entwined snakes, hence the name.

Neak Pean Temple near Siem Reap
Neak Pean Temple near Siem Reap

The significance of the layout and the two entwined snakes Neak Pean is a matter of debate. The prevailing theory is that the temple is meant to represent the mythical Lake Anavatapta in the Himalayas. The waters of Lake Anavatapta are, according to myth, a cure for all diseases. The reason for the connection is that Lake Anavatapta is commonly associated with two snakes or naga serpents as are represented on Neak Pean’s main altar.

The other connection is that Lake Anavatapta is described in legend as having four springs which are the start of the four great rivers in South Asia. There are also four springs from the main central pond in Neak Pean flowing into the four adjacent ponds. The outlet of each of these four springs is shaped like the head of an animal: lion, elephant, horse and bull. Neak Pean is thought to have served as an ancient medical facility where swimming in the ponds was believed to have curative powers.

Location of Neak Pean

Neak Pean is located 15.9 km by road from Siem Reap Town.

Google Map of Neak Pean

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