Tourists eye Cambodia's new world heritage site

(Reuters) - Tourists flocked to Cambodia's newest world heritage site on the weekend, the 16th and 17th century forest temple of Sambor Prei Kuk after it was recently added to the U.N. cultural organization's heritage list.

With its inspiring and tumultuous history, Cambodia attracts tourists from around the world who often make a beeline for the Angkor Wat temple complex, another world heritage site.

See the beautiful grounds below:

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Sambor Prei Kuk heritage site
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Sambor Prei Kuk heritage site
Roots shroud a relief at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 16, 2017. Picture taken July 16, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A religious figure is seen inside Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 16, 2017. Picture taken July 16, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A tree is seen at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A man walks at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, after it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A relief is seen at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
Tourists visit Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, after it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A religious figure is seen inside Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
Roots shroud a relief at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 16, 2017. Picture taken July 16, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A sculpture at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen, at the UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 16, 2017. Picture taken July 16, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A relief is pictured at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 16, 2017. Picture taken July 16, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
Tourist visit Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A tourist visits Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
Tourists visit Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest", an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
Buddhist monks pray at a pagoda, celebrating after Sambor Prei Kuk archaeological site was added to UNESCO's world heritage list, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A woman pray inside of a temple at Sambor Prei Kuk, or "the temple in the richness of the forest" an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura, is seen after being listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia July 15, 2017. Picture taken July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A Buddhist monk prays at a pagoda, celebrating after Sambor Prei Kuk archaeological site was added to UNESCO's world heritage list, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A Buddhist monk drums at a pagoda, celebrating after Sambor Prei Kuk archaeological site was added to UNESCO's world heritage list, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
Buddhist monks pray at a pagoda, celebrating after Sambor Prei Kuk archaeological site was added to UNESCO's world heritage list, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring
A view of one of the 7th Century crumbling brick temples of Sambor Prey Kuk in Kompong Thom province in central Cambodia. There are more than 100 structures clustered in and around three main complexes over several acres of forest and historians believe these are the remains of Isanpura, capitol of the Chenla kingdom during the early 7th Century reign of King Isanavarman. Picture taken April 20.
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On July 8 UNESCO added Sambor Prei Kuk or "temple in the richness of the forest" in the Khmer language to its heritage list. Located 206 km (128 miles) north of the capital Phnom Penh, it is home to numerous temples, 10 of which are octagonal.

UNESCO said Sambor Prei Kuk had been identified as Ishanapura, the capital of the ancient Chenla Empire, a Khmer civilization that flourished in the late 6th and 7th centuries and preceded the Khmer Empire.

It joins the Angkor Archaeological Park and the Preah Vihear temple, located on the Thai-Cambodia border, as world heritage sites.

Cambodian tourists visited Sambo Prei Kuk on Saturday. One couple took wedding photos at the site.

"Now that it is listed as the world heritage site, I hope that our people will benefit a lot from this and I say many thanks to our ancestors who built this and kept it for us until this generation," said Sem Norm, a temple guard, adding that he has been taking care of the temples since 1994.

Others hope tourism will help to boost the local economy.

"When we have more tourists then the people here can get more income by selling the souvenirs and our kids can even learn English language easily," said tourist Uch Srey Leakhena.

Thousands are expected to celebrate the listing of Sambo Prei Kuk as a world heritage site on Monday.

Tourist arrivals in Cambodia rose 5 percent to five million last year. About 5.5 million tourists are expected to visit the country this year.

(Reporting by Lach Chantha, Pring Samrang; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Michael Perry)

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