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Khao Phra Viharn reopens

The historic Khmer temple of Khao Phra Viharn, which straddles the Thai-Cambodian border, has been reopened to visitors after a two-year closure due to environmental problems.

Though officially a part of Cambodian territory, the temple, known as Phrea Vihear in the Khmer (Cambodian) language, can be visited from both the Thai and Cambodian sides of the border.

From the Thai side, visitors can pass through the Khao Phra Viharn national park in Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani provinces. The park has numerous other natural attractions like waterfalls, caves and walking trails which are open to visitors.

Thai visitors have to pay 20 baht, and international visitors 200 baht to enter the national park, and a further 50 baht or 200 baht respectively to enter the Khao Phra Viharn area. Passports are not necessary for foreign visitors.

Two other access points are available from the Cambodian side. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Governor Mrs. Juthamas Siriwan said, "Khao Phra Viharn is one of the most important historical temples in the Mekong region. We welcome the re-opening because it will give a major boost to travel to the Northeast Thailand region."

She noted that Northeast Thailand is one of the richest in terms of cultural attractions but also very much in need of economic development. Hence, the better the attractions, the greater the likelihood that visitors will try and include it in their itineraries.

Thailand and Cambodia have discussed the possibility of developing the area into a major tourist area via a proper and well-regulated master plan. The temple is located about 630 kilometres from Bangkok and 95 kilometres from Si Sa Ket province. On the Cambodian side, it is 405 kilometres from Phnom Penh or 108 kilometres from the provincial town of Phrea Vihear.

The hilltop temple is reachable by a steep ascent from the Cambodian side but a more gently sloping ascent from the Thai side.

Phrea Vihear temple was built at the end of 9th century and at the beginning of 10th century by four Cambodian kings. It was the subject of a territorial dispute between Thailand and Cambodia for several years but was officially declared to be a part of Cambodia in 1962.

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