Wat Leu is a Buddhist temple located in the resort town of Sihanoukville.
Its free to enter Wat Leu and there are no specific opening hours, although if you go to the temple when its dark you will see nothing. Donations are requested, but not demanded, from visitors entering the main temple building.
About Wat Leu
Wat Leu is often referred to as the ‘upper temple’ because it’s at the top of a hill. There is another temple called Wat Kraom (sometimes spelt Wat Krom) which is located near Independence Beach at the bottom of the hill which is known as ‘lower temple’. Its a long walk from Wat Kraom to Wat Leu (3.5 km) so most visitors to the temple opt to take a motorbike taxi to Wat Leu.
At the end of the road up to the temple there is a relatively flat area with a large car park. Around this area there are lots of statues of the Lord Buddha, the most well known of which is the three Buddha figures each riding on one of the heads of a three headed elephant.
From the approach road to the temple you can either take the road from the main car park up to the temple, or the long naga staircase which starts before you reach the main car park. Both routes lead up to the main temple building at Wat Leu, which is the congregation hall.
From the outside the congregation hall looks very similar to a Thai style temple, however, the inside of the temple is more similar to the type of temple you find in Laos with the walls covered in colourful paintings of the life of the Lord Buddha. The focal point of the congregation hall is the altar with statue of a reclining Buddha and several statues of a seated Buddha. In Buddhism each different position which the Buddha holds has a special meaning.
We visited early in the morning when Buddhists from the local community were visiting to offer food to the monks at the temple. The scene above is a common one across South East Asia with believers on Buddhism bringing food to the monks as a way of making ‘merit’. Wat Leu is a working temple with a large number of monks living, a lot of whom are children. In Cambodia the Buddhist church serves an important role as car giver to children with no parents or poor parents making up for the deficiencies of the Cambodian government in providing welfare assistance to needy people.
Located at the top of the tallest hill in Sihanoukville, Wat Leu is a great vantage point for views over Sihanoukville and the coastline.
Wat Leu is also home to a large troop of wild macaque monkeys who roam freely the temple. The temple is located within a forest area and the monkeys swing down from the trees into the temple courtyard to take the food which left as offerings at various shrines and spirit houses in the temple grounds.
In the grounds of the temple between the road and the congregation hall are several large stupa. These stupa appear to be much older than the temple itself. One of the temples has four faces carved into the top section which is a representation of the Hindu god Brahma. The rulers of the ancient Khmer kingdom. who built Angkor Wat, were mainly believers in Hinduism. It may be that like many Buddhist temples in Cambodia, Wat Leu has been constructed on the site of a much older Hindu temple although no archaeological work has ever done at Wat Leu to determine its history.
Location of Wat Leu
Wat Leu is located 2.8 km from Sihanoukville Railway Station.