Across a causeway, through a tumbledown gate, lies one of the largest and most mysterious complexes of the Angkor period. Banteay Chhmer, along with its satellite shrines and vast baray (reservoir) was constructed in the late 12th century during the reign of Jayavarman VII. Like the Buddhist-influenced Bayon, it features the enigma tic faces of Avalokitesvara and is well- known for the intricacy of its carvings. However, unlike the Bayon, Banteay Chhmer is rarely overrun with visitors, giving those who do come here a very different temple experience. Often, except for a few families who live and farm around these overgrown ruins, there is no one else here.
The temple complex is surrounded by two moats, with the outer moat measuring 1 mile (2 km) on each side. These moats are now dry and have been converted into rice paddies by local farmers. The complex also has several ceremonial walkways, collapsed towers, and courtyards, typical of other Angkorian structures. Among the high lights are the vast bas-reliefs on the outer walls, depicting life 900 years ago – including processions of elephants and scenes of conflict with neighboring Champa. Visitors can arrange for homestays with the locals, which gives them a chance to admire the temple at sunrise and sunset.