"Phnom Chiso is one of these temples, located atop a hill in Takeo Province, about 60 km south of Phnom Penh. This temple is older the Angkor Wat; it was built in the 11th century. Though damaged by American bombing during the war in Southeast Asia in the 1970s, much of the temple still stands."
Phnom Chiso is a historical site located in Sia village, Rovieng commune, Samrong district, about 62 kilometers south of Phnom Penh or 27 kilometers north of Takeo provincial town. Phnom Chiso is 130-meter-high mountain.
To reach the site, take National Road 2 to Bati district and Neang Khmao temple. Turn right at the sign for the site and head down the dirt trial for 5 more kilometers. Though damaged by American bombing during the war in Southeast Asia in the 1970s, much of the temple still stands.
The mountain can be climbed up by a popular western stair having 180 steps and down by a southern stair having 408 steps. Next to the top of southern stair, there is another ancient stair located in front of the temple. This ancient stair was built at the same time to the temple and linked to the temples of Sen Chhmos and Sen Ro Vang, and Tonle Oum, the lake considered as the sacred lake during the ancient time used for washing human sin in Brahmanism. At a rock yard having 100-metre length and 80-metre width, there are many temples were built in different times.
Phnom Chiso temple was built in the early 11th century by King Suryavarman I (AD 1002-1050), who practiced Brahmanism. Constructed of sandstone and other stones, it is 60 meters long and 50 meters wide and sits atop a mountain. The temple is surrounded by two galleries. The first gallery is 60 meters long on each side. The second, smaller gallery, is in the middle, where there is the main worship place with two doors and a wooden statue. There are beautiful sculptures on the lintel and the pillars.
Phnom Chiso Pagoda was built in 1917, destroyed by war during the 1970s and rebuilt in 1979. Behind it is a hall called Thammasaphea, a place of worship.
There is an ancient water tank made of concrete. People usually climb the staircase on the west side of the mountain, which has 390 steps and descend by the south side staircase, which has 408 steps.
In addition, there is a mountain cave, Vimean Chan, located about 150 meters south of the temple. It is a quiet place for Brahmans or ascetics to meditate. During the Americans' war with Vietnam, the site was bombed, dislodging several large rocks that block the entrance to the cave today.
Hun Sen Phnom Chiso Agricultural and Tourist site is located in Samrong, Bati and Prey Kabas districts. It includes a 513 hectare paddy rice field of dry rice, a 1,386 hectares field of wet rice and three water basins - Thnos Ta Kong, Tuol Lork and Sen Pea Ream.
Phnom Chiso is very popular with visitors, especially during festivals, when it is very crowded. The top of the mountain affords visitors a panoramic view of Takeo Province rice paddies stretching for kilometers.