Wat Damnak Pagoda, set along Wat Bo Road, is the largest pagoda in downtown Siem Reap. It was originally a royal palace during the reign of King Sisowath (1904-1927) before it served as a Khmer Rouge military depot between 1975 and 1979. The monastery now houses a primary school, 2 charities, and a sewing academy for young local women within its verdant grounds.
Wat Damnak Pagoda is a great place to experience the daily life of its resident monks, who are also more than happy to show visitors around and educate them on Buddhism. Offering a tranquil retreat from the bustling town centre, it’s fitted with traditional Khmer architecture, stone sculptures of Buddha, frangipani trees, and a pond filled with colourful waterlilies.
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Aside from serving the local Buddhist community, Wat Damnak Pagoda is also popular for housing the Centre for Khmer Studies. This bright pink library was opened in 2010 and has over 11,000 books, journals, encyclopaedias, directories, maps, guidebooks and daily national newspapers in English, French and Khmer languages.
After exploring the temple halls, you can enjoy some reading or stroll through the garden courtyard for as long as you’d like. Entrance to Wat Damnak Pagoda is free of charge, but you can contribute any amount of money to the donation box. As this is a holy institution, travellers are advised to dress conservatively and be respectful.
Wat Damnak Pagoda is located on the east side of Siem Reap River. If you’re travelling from the town centre, cross the bridge in front of Old Market (Phsar Chas) and it’s a 5-minute walk along Wat Bo Road. A tuk-tuk should cost no more than US$2.
Wat Damnak Pagoda
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 5.30pm
- Location: Wat Bo Road, Siem Reap, Cambodia