The most famous are the Temple of Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom with its countless sculptural decorations
Stretching over some 400 square kilometers, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire of the 9th to the 15th centuries, including the largest pre-industrial city in the world.
Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, at the same time, it was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to looting, a declining water table, and unsustainable tourism. UNESCO has now set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
Angkor itself has no accommodations and few facilities; the nearby town of Siem Reap, just 6 km. south, is the tourist hub for the area.
Built in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat is still Cambodia’s best-preserved temple: not just a relic of history, but a continuing center for religious worship through centuries of war and benign neglect. Angkor Wat is a representation of the Hindu home of the gods: the towers in the center stand in for the sacred Mount Meru’s peaks. Appropriately for a model of the divine, the temple’s breathtaking beauty manifests in every inch of the structure – from the intricate bas-reliefs on the walls to the wide moat that reflects the towers reaching out to the sky. One of the greatest human creations, this temple complex is best seen over the course of a few days. Even if you don’t like temples, the place is still amazing to see as it’s a testament to the genius of humanity.
Ta Phrom is one of the most photographed sites as a result of the large tree roots that have grown over time to envelope the temple
From the 9th to the 12th century, Khmer Kings established their capitals at Angkor. At one point in history, Angkor was a highly developed civilization. Today, it covers more than 400 square kilometers and still boasts more than 100 temples. You’ll need at least a couple of days to see the main attractions. The most impressive sites are Angkor Wat, the Temple of Bayon and Ta Phrom. Angkor Wat, which was originally designed to be a small replica of the universe, is the largest and most famous site. The central tower stands at 65 meters and represents the mythical Mt. Meru. The Temple of Bayon has over 200 faces staring downwards from 54 towers.
Angkor is located 15 minutes from Siem Reap, where there is a selection of affordable accommodation. Tourists walk, bike, drive and even ride elephants around the temples, but the most popular option is to take a tuk tuk. The drivers are knowledgeable and will help you decide a route incorporating the sites you wish to see. Most guesthouses will help you organise this and agree a fair price with a driver.
There’s a lot of everything in Southeast Asia- lots of food, islands, clothes, drinking and lots of temples. You can’t turn a corner without seeing another temple. Visit as many as you can as each is unique to the country and region of the temple.
The Temples of Angkor • Locations & Activities
Angkor Archaeological Park