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Angkor Archaeological Park – Siem Reap, Cambodia

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After busy days in Phnom Penh (read all about my time in the capital of Cambodia here), we wanted to get away from the city to relax a little bit and so we decided to book a chauffeur ($25 per person) to drive us to Siem Reap for a couple of days. We planned to visit the Angkor Archaeological sites. For our stay in Siem Reap; we chose to stay at Bayon Boutique which is in the city centre of Siem Reap; a 5 minute walk from Siem Reap Night Market.

Angkor Archaelogical Park is 15 minutes by car and 25 – 30 minutes by tuk tuk from Siem Reap city centre. The next morning the tuk-tuk lurched through the forest in Siem Reap as my friends and I enjoyed the fresh breeze. It was 10am and we were headed towards Angkor Archaelogical Park.

Facts about the Angkor Archaeological sites:
  • The sites extend over 400 square kilometers that host more than 1000 temples
  • From 9th to 15th century; Angkor was the center of the Khmer Kingdom
  • Nearly all of Angkor temples were abated during the 15th century except Angkor Wat which remained a Buddhist shrine

The city of Angkor itself is estimated to have been built in the 12th century. Angkor Archaeological Park has a collection of contrasting temples and monuments in a jungle.

Once upon a time, Angkor Archaeological park was an actual fully functioning, complex and well-connected city with the temples serving as flourishing part of it.

Before we continue, I’d like to break our day schedule down for you. As I’ve mentioned, Angkor Archaelogical Park has many temples and based on how many days you are in Siem Reap, it is important to know which temples you would like to visit and how much time you’re willing to allocate to each temple.

Our itinerary was simple; we had roughly 2 and half days in Siem Reap and we only wanted to plan one day to visit the temples.  Thus, we limited our visit to three of the major temples of the site:

  • Ta Prohm Temples
  • Angkor Thom or also known as Bayon temples
  • Angkor Wat

 

1. Ta Prohm

Located in the southwest of the East Mebon and east of Angkor Thom, the temple is awaiting you in an uncontested and mostly untouched kingdom of trees.

The temple was built as a monastery and university by Jayavarman VII. It’s uniqueness is the entanglement of man-made structure and nature, giving way to delight and sadness at what was lost here. The temple’s conditions are remarkably good considering when it was built.

The temple is surrounded by a dense jungle, depicting a certain romantic aura! It leaves you with mysterious cues to dig deeper and enjoy the hidden beauty.

Fig, Banyan and Kapok trees and their enormous roots entangle over stones as their branches and leaves interweave to form a roof kind of structure.

The temple holds a series of long low buildings on one level enclosed in a rectangular laterite wall (600x1000m). The center of the monument can be reached by the connected passages which lead to a series of towers that form a sacred way into the monument’s heart, with three square galleries.

2. Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom or also known Bayon Temple, ancient capital of the former Khmer Empire, is dubbed as ‘the face temples’ depicting from gods to kings faces. Just like Ta Prohm, it was constructed by Jayavarman VII and is estimated to have been built towards the end of 12th century.

The temple is impressive and meticulously filled with detailed stone carvings. Some of the drawings (like the one below) function as a window into their ancient way of life. For example, the carvings below showing fish and boats, could be interpreted as a community which depended on fish farming for their livelihood.

The temple is almost in a square form surrounded by 12-meter-long and 8-meter-high walls. There are five impressive gopura gates providing access to the city. By the way, the name Angkor Thom city translates to great city.

In my opinion, Angkor Thom (/Bayon Temple) is a must see! Not only is it photogenic and picturesque, the temple has sculptures of both Buddism and Hinduism. What could be more amazing than seeing the real diversity and inclusion at the heart of the 12th century.

As they say in the new age, if there isn’t a picture, it didn’t happen.

And if you like to frame yourself, they’ve got you covered with many. 🙂

Now it was time to say our goodbyes and move to our next and final temple of the day.

3. Angkor Wat

This is the main prized reward for your Angkor Archaelogical Park visit. It is a huge Buddhist temple located in northern Cambodia and is estimated to have been built around the 12th century by Suryavarman II.

The temple of Angkor Wat is nothing but magnificent with its three levels oriented to the west. According to Khmers beliefs, the three levels of the temples represent air, earth and water.

Some more facts about Angkor Wat!

Angor Wat translates to “temple city” and it was originally built to be a Hindu Temple.

The main tower is the centerpiece located on the third level and measures around 65m in height representing the mythical mount meru, home of the supreme gods.

Angkor Wat was built using Sandstone without addition of cement and wood and as a consequence, it remains a real challenge to conserve it.

The architecture, the tourists, the monks and also the sounds of children playing give way to a beautiful and charming atmosphere.

Angkor archaeological park which spans across 400sq km, became a UNESCO  cultural heritage site in 1992 and is listed amongst the seven wonders of the old world.

There are many, many things to be explored in Angkor Wat. Personally, we didn’t have the guts to wake up early in the morning to witness the Angkor Wat sunrise magic but instead, we stayed there long enough to see a glimpse of the sunset, which was quite magical too! I saw that there are also hot air balloon rides available – if you dare 😀

The sky turns really beautiful after the sunset, so it is worth staying around to take a snapshot like we did.

Ticket info:

  • 1 day pass $37
  • 3 day pass – $62(To be used within a week)
  • 7 day pass – $72 (To be used within a month)

Attention: Only buy tickets from verified and official ticket vendors which can be found on your way from Siem Reap to Angkor Archaeological Park. Ask your tuk tuk driver or guide (if you have one) and they will show you where to buy the tickets. Tickets can be used to visit all temples within the Angkor Archaeological Park.

Opening hours: Every day from 5am until 6pm.

How to Navigate

Preferred mode of transport: Tuk-tuk (available to rent with or without guide, depending on your day’s objectives).

Tips: I recommend you get enough sleep the previous day to be bumped up for a full and busy day of sightseeing ahead.

Watch out for the third and final series of my Cambodian trip where we visited the floating villages in Siem Reap.
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Nelly

Nelly

I am a blogger and youtube vlogger who likes to share stories through words, poetism, videos and pictures. I particular like to explore the travel and lifestyle domain by focusing on different experiences in different countries and cities. While taking my audience with me; I’m sharing my journey through imagination and presence. I get inspired by people I interact with; the weird places and formations of cities, the unexpected stranger I meet along the way and the feelings I get while travelling.

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It was a nice day! This post brings back memories 🙂

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