Recently I drove to Prasat Sdok Kok Thom, อุทยานประวัติศาสตร์สด๊กก๊อกธม (or Prasat Sdok Kak Thom), an 11th-century Khmer temple in Thailand, located about 34 kilometers northeast of the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet, Thailand, near the Cambodian border. From my rural area in Nakhon Nayok it is about a 3 hour drive, if you are coming from Bangkok, you may need to add a couple of hours, depending on your route . The drive itself is fairly uneventful but there are plenty of distractions if you keep your eyes open. We found a large field that was becoming overgrown but had many white Buddha statues, which made for a nice shot.
My reason for visiting this particular temple was that is was one of the less popular tourist attractions and my hope was that it would be less crowded than the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but with Khmer architecture still be interesting photographically. I was not disappointed. We left my home near Nakhon Nayok, Thailand, at 3:30 AM to arrive at the temple shortly after sunrise. The weather report called for overcast skies, so being there for the actual sunrise was not a big priority. I was more interested in the soft morning light.
I was pleased to find that not only was it not crowded, but we were the only people there, ideal for photography. The cameras I used were a Nikon D800 and a Nikon DF, with several different lenses ranging from a 12-24mm to a 70-200mm. After an hour or so we were joined by the caretaker, Preecha, who was very fluent in English and gave us a 3 hour personal tour of the temple and the grounds.
The temple was restored in 2012, and Preecha played a large part in the reconstruction process. The rebuilt temple gives you an idea of the splendor of what it once was but unfortunately on close inspection the artwork looks somewhat patched together. I imagine it is quite a difficult task to try and match the pieces perfectly, in fact Preecha told me he has looked for missing pieces of stonework and tried to match them up for 5 long years.
Also just a reminder, since we are near the Cambodian border, and since there is a history of past conflicts, it is a good idea not to stray too far from the beaten path. Follow your guides advice.
I found the overall experience quite nice, I highly recommend Prasat Sadok Kok Thom, and since the site is going to be promoted more in the near future, now would be a good time to visit, before the throngs of people and tour busses arrive.