Ta Keo Temple

Ta Keo is one dangerous temple. The stairs are really deadly.

Ta Keo Temple - From the front
Doesn't look so deadly, you say? Wait till you climb the stairs.

I read somewhere that Ta Keo is a recommended place for sunset viewing. I would agree with that if it were not for the stairs.

This mountain temple rises high, and when you climb to the top you have a clear view of the horizon, good for sunset watching. The view of the treetops is also beautiful and soothing.

Ta Keo Temple - Trees from the top
Trees from the top

But again, there is that problem with the stairs. No wonder the temple never became popular.

Going up the temple, as usual, isn’t that scary or difficult. But going down? Now that is a different matter altogether.

I think I had cold sweats when I was preparing to climb down. That never happened at other temple mountains.

The view of the very steep laterite stairs from the top made me cringe in disbelief. How in the world is one supposed to get down with this kind of stairs?


Ta Keo Temple - Steep stairs
The stairs are so steep you can't even see them

The answer is of course one step at a time, very slowly and very carefully. But if you by any chance have access to the Amrita elixir that the gods churned out, drink it now. Better safe than sorry.

Ta Keo Temple carvings (or the lack of)

You’ll notice immediately that there are hardly any carvings at this temple, making it different than other Angkor temples.

They say this is because the type of sandstone used in this temple is particularly hard to carve. So it looks like they made a mistake in choosing the material and abandoned carvings entirely once they found out about it.

You can see that none of the top towers are carved and decorated.

Ta Keo Temple - Top towers
Towers without any carvings

Temple structures

The temple is made of sandstone and laterite blocks.

Ta Keo Temple - Laterite blocks
Strong laterite blocks make up the wall

There are five levels to the temple, and at the very top there are five towers. There are also two libraries and two halls.

The temple height from ground to top is 22 meters (72 feet). And somehow, since most of the stones are uncarved, the stones look bigger and heavier than those at other temples. It’s amazing how they got so many heavy blocks that high.

How to get here

Ta Keo is located near Angkor Thom. It’s actually right beside the big road so you can’t miss it.

You can choose from the usual modes of transportation, tuktuk, moto, or car.

So in short…

This is one exhilarating temple. Exhilarating in the sense that you can really hurt yourself on the stairs. If you are particularly afraid of going down steep stairs, please don’t climb this temple. The view is great, the towers up top are massive and interesting, but safety comes first.

But if you think Angkor temple stairs are not too bad, do climb this one. Seeing the massive, uncarved towers at the top really gives you the sense of how magnificent and important this temple would have been.

Just be extra careful, because this temple really is steeper than the others. 

Ta Keo temple - Uncarved towers
Huge sandstone blocks form the towers

Return from Ta Keo temple to Nearby Angkor temples for a list of other sites that you can easily visit.

Return from Ta Keo Temple to Holiday in Angkor Wat (homepage)

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