Once you get past the border gate, you just follow the path, go past some outdoor shops, and arrive at this entrance to the four levels of temples (Khopuras). There are 162 steps over the 76 meters from the entrance up to the first level. The total distance up to the fourth level is around one kilometer, basically north to south. Lawee is in the left foreground. He was always popping up in pictures, even when I was not intentionally taking his picture (see the travelogue about him).
This is just the right hand side of the courtyard. As you can see in this and many other pictures, the site is mostly unrestored. That is one of the things that makes it special. Actually Lawee's father had a vendor's stand just to the left of this picture. You can also see the courtyard side of the walkway (see the next tip).
On the southwest side of the Level 4 Temple, you can see where they quarried some of the stones for the temples . Many stones in the temples have small, regularly-spaced holes in them. They were not quarried on the hill. They were quarried below and carried up by elephants.
Poei Tadi, or the cliff's edge, is on the back side of the Level 4 Temple. The elevation is 657 meters above sea level. You can see Cambodia 447 meters (almost 1500 feet) below. Laithong lives in the village at the crossroads you can barely see in the center background. She walks to Preah Vihear and back everyday.
This is part of the Khao Phra Wihan National park that covers 130 squre kilometers.
Within the national park are many waterfalls,rock pools and rock carvings and the Prasit Don Tuan as well as some amazing viewpoints.
Near the temple there are pleanty of shops ,souveniers and kids running around with postcards here so buy some early to get some peace to look around.
These ruins are spread out and have 4 levels which are quite steep but the view on the far side of them into Cambodia is sensational.
This is Sa Srong or the large reservoir. It is 17 x 38 meters in size. Most Khmer sites seem to have a reservoir. Guess it had been dry at Preah Vihear. This one was pretty empty. It is believed that people bathed here before joining ceremonies.
You pass through this gate to enter Cambodia from Thailand at Preah Vihear. Normally you need a visa but not here. Just need to pay 200 baht to Thailand to leave and 200 baht to Cambodia to enter. At least they don't charge you to go back.
There was a group of young guys at Level 1 with cameras. They would take pictures for you but we were taking our own pictures. One guy came with us anyway. Lucky had visited a few months before and they remembered each other.
The picture is looking north from the Level 3 Temple along the causeway back to the Level 2 Temple. It is hard not to get a vendor in the scene when you take pictures of the temples. They are basically everywhere.
View from the top of the Level 4 stairs of the back of the Level 3 Temple and the causeway in between. Even with a 447 meter elevation change in ~1 km, the whole hill was not a hard climb since you stop to look around often.
If you walk around the right hand side, there are red stakes and a sign by The Halo Trust warning you not to walk in the field since there are still landmines in that area.
This is Thang Dam Noen, the first pillared causeway. It is 275 meters long. You can see our small group. Lawee and Laithong are on the left. Lucky and the photographer are on the right.
The Level 2 Temple had holes where water collected. There were minnows in some of them. They are actually holes for posts for the marquee that used to be there.
When you get up the stairs, it is much bigger than it looks in this view. It has probably the largest land area of the four levels. The third level temple is the biggest and most complete Khopura.
I tried to photograph all of the left hand side of the Level 3 Temple but could not get far enough away as the hill drops off quickly. See also the next tip.