Hidden in the forest to the north of Ta Keo and Ta Prohm, the small and relatively isolated Ta Nei fits the archetypal “tumbledown temple” image.
Though only just off the beaten track, it welcomes few visitors, partly because the tour buses cannot reach here. This creates a peaceful contrast with its larger, better-known neighbours, one that invites you to linger, or possibly to consider Ta Nei as your very own slice of Angkor.
Expect birdsong rather than the chattering of other visitors. Trees surround this temple and a magnificent silk cotton tree sprawls languidly on its outer northern wall before soaring up to the sky. If you’re lucky the soundtrack to your visit may also include monks’ rhythmic chanting from a functioning pagoda nearby.
Before entering the temple, you might spot the remains of two moats, long since dry, that flank the temple to the north and south. Inside, the temple is an enchanting if precarious jumble of stones amidst the greenery.
Ta Nei features several notable pediments decorated with Buddhist inspired carvings that survived the Hindu reaction under Jayavarman VIII. You can find these in the chamber that connects the western sanctuary tower to the north gateway.