Country: Cambodia Language: Cambodian Currency: US Dollar ($)
USD is the official currency for tourists.
Siem Reap is an incredible city in Southeast Asia. The Temples of the Angkor Archaeological Park are its main attraction, and it is certainly worth the visit. The temples are an extraordinary display of nature meeting architecture. The historic temples, with their intricate carvings and detailed sculptures, stand tall gorgeously among the Cambodian Jungle. After a day exploring the ancient temples, you can relax and unwind in Pub Street, where you'll find plenty of dining options, from cheap eats and fine dining; massage parlors; a plethora of bars; and the night market for shopping!
CTW Must See
Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a true sight to behold. You can easily spend hours exploring the temple, with its labyrinth of passageways and intricate carvings. It was built in the early 1100s by King Suryavarman II, the Khmer king, and it is the largest religious monument in the world! Angkor Wat’s five towers, four on each corner and one tall central tower, were designed to represent Mount Meru, a cosmological mountain said to be the center of physical, metaphysical, and spiritual universes. If you’re keen, go for sunrise where you can see the majesty of Angkor Wat as it is touched by the first light of day.
Built roughly 100 years after Angkor Wat, it was the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. Bayon’s most striking feature is the series of smiling stone carved faces that appear all over the temple's towers. Over 200 faces sit atop the 54 towers, making it an unmissable sight. Bayon stands over three levels, each level revealing detailed carvings and fascinating artwork.
Perhaps the most photographed of all the temples in Siem Reap, Ta Prohm has become one with nature; it is unlike anything in the world! Massive trees with complex, thick roots wrap around and encase numerous parts of the temple. It was built in the 12th & 13th centuries, and was abandoned in the 15th century after the fall of the Khmer Empire. Restoration works have been done to maintain the structural integrity, while not destroying too much of its magic. Ta Prohm was used as a filming set for the 2001 film Tomb Raider, staring Angelina Jolie, and has inspired travelers from all over the world.
Preah Khan is one of our favorites! It features a mostly flat design and is home to extraordinary carvings and passageways. Similar to Ta Prohm, it has many trees growing among the ruins and a similar layout. The temple was built by King Jayavarman VII in 1191 AD, who dedicated the temple to his father. Preah Khan is surrounded by a moat and fortified walls that display stone carved garudas, a legendary bird-like creature. Preah Khan presents some of the most detailed and intricate carvings, and a perfect jungle-meets-temple scene.
East Mebon was built before Angkor Wat in the 10th century, during the reign of King Rajendravarman. It is dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva, and honors the king’s parents. The temple features two walls, three tiers, and five towers. These towers, like Angkor Wat, represent the five peaks of the mythical Mount Meru. A climb is required to reach the top of the temple. On your way up, be sure to admire the ornate carvings and the two meter tall elephant statues that are positioned on each corner.
Built before Angkor Wat, around the same time as East Mebon, Pre Rup is also dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. Going to the top of Pre Rup requires a steep climb, but the view from the terminal pyramid at the top is definitely worth it!
Another one of our favorites, Banteay Kdei utilizes some of the best elements of Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, with beautiful carvings and vegetation growing among the ruins. It was built between the 12th & 13th centuries, and was also used as a Tomb Raider filming location. Banteay Kdei, though one of the smaller temples, it is certainly worth a visit. A walk through the temple and out the other side will reward you with remarkable views looking at the temple!
More temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park
Above are just a few of the most popular and most visited temples. The Angkor Archaeological Park is made up of over 50 temples and ruins to explore. Be sure to visit as many you can, as each temple offers something different!
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