The Roluos Group refers to a collection of four Angkor-era monuments, which are not located within the main Angkor Park, but instead near a small town named Roluos, 12km east of Siem Reap. The monuments are named Bakong, Preah Ko, Lolei, and Prei Monti.
The significance of these four temples is that they’re the last remains of Hariharalaya, which was the second capital of the Angkor-era Khmer Empire. The temples were built by King Jayavarman II, who moved the capital to Roluos from Mahendraparvata. With a population matching that of modern-day Phnom Penh, Mahendraparvata was the original Angkor capital. It was located on the slopes of Phnom Kulen, a mountainous jungle plateau steeped in rich history.
The last king who lived at Hariharalaya was Yasovarman I. In 905 CE, he built the first major temple structure at Angkor called Phnmon Bakheng and moved the capital there.
How To Get There
Roluos Group is located a mere 12 km east of Siem Reap, just off of National Road 6. This is the same direction as Phnom Penh, therefore you should expect heavy traffic on the road. The road is sealed and smooth, so cycling is possible, however due to the traffic, it’s recommended that you arrange for a tuk-tuk to take you there and back. This can be set up by your hotel staff or directly with the seemingly thousands of idle tuk-tuk drivers that line the streets throughout Siem Reap.
Although the Roluos Group is not located within the Angkor Archaeological Park, a temple pass is required to visit these monuments. So make sure to buy one beforehand from the official ticket office, located on Road 60 near the entrance to the park. Temple passes cannot be purchased at Roluos!
Best Time to Visit
Visiting the Roluos group can be accomplished during a half-day tour from Siem Reap. It’s best to plan your visit for the morning, and arrange for a visit to Phsar Leu Market first. The market is on the way to the temples and is a fantastic and authentic place to visit. Many locals frequent this market, the largest in Siem Reap. No English is spoken, and you can immerse yourself in the rows of raw meat, fruit, vegetables, and wide varieties of household goods and other items.
One of our suggested itineraries is to group together Phaser Leu Market and the Roluos Group in the morning, and Wat Athvea at Phnom Krom in the afternoon. Phnom Krom is also an excellent location to view the sunset.
Roluos Group Temples
Each temple at the Roluos group has unique and interesting characteristics:
This is the highlight of the Roluos Group and is the first temple mountain of its style; it features five levels, with a center tower, and boasts an impressive height of 15 meters. It was the state temple at the center of Hariharalaya. It collapsed at some point but was reconstructed by the French between 1937 and 1945. It also features the beautiful Bakong Pagoda, which is modern and displays interesting murals. The pagoda is in great condition and is still in use.
With statues of bulls surrounding it, it’s no wonder that this temple’s name means “sacred bull”. It features beautifully preserved carvings and six towers. Inside each tower is a small, active shrine.
This temple is unique in that it’s an island temple. It’s surrounded by a man-made reservoir, which is called baray in Khmer. The reservoir, though, is now dried up. The temple features four crumbling towers. This was the last temple that Yasovarman I built before moving the capital to the Angkor area.
This is the most hidden and least-visited temple of the Roluos group. It’s a very small temple ruin tucked away from the main road, obscured by the village. While it’s now only a cluster of one-story ruins overgrown by the jungle, its obscurity and hidden nature is what makes it worth a visit.