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Things to do in Angkor Wat

Things to do in  Angkor Wat

Welcome to Angkor Wat

On par with the pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China, Cambodia's massive, UNESCO-listed Angkor Archaeological Park deserves its rank at the top of many a world traveler's bucket list. Located just outside of Siem Reap—where most international visitors fly in—the 250-square-mile (400-square-kilometer) sandstone complex was constructed between the ninth and 15th centuries by successive ""god-kings"" of the Khmer Empire. There are dozens of accessible temples and structures to see, but for most visitors, a 2-day or 3-day tour hits the highlights without becoming overwhelming. At center stage is Angkor Wat, a masterpiece of Khmer architecture with a shimmering reflective pool at its feet and five lotus-shaped towers etching an imposing silhouette against the sky. Make sure to visit the fortified city ruins of Angkor Thom and stroll around Ta Prohm, where the ruins have become tangled in the roots of ancient strangler figs and kapok trees.

Top 10 attractions in Angkor Wat

#1
Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

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Rising from the jungle as the star of the UNESCO-listed Angkor Archaeological Park, the Angkor Wat temple complex is a 12th-century engineering marvel that tops many adventure travelers’ bucket lists and justifies a trip to Southeast Asia all on its own. Every surface is covered in intricate carvings and details that don’t disappoint—nymphs dance on columns in shadowy hallways, serpent-topped balustrades line the moat, and huge, chiseled bas-reliefs wrap the outer walls, depicting Khmer Empire battles. The site’s colossal size reflects its ambition, intended as a microcosm of the universe. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to get lost here, with the complex arranged on three tiers.More
#2
Bayon

Bayon

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The geographical and spiritual center of the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the Bayon is one of the crowning artistic achievements of the Khmer king Jayavarman VII. Around 200 giant faces look down from around 50 towers, while beautifully crafted reliefs depict everyday life in 12th-century Cambodia.More
#3
Preah Khan

Preah Khan

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At the northern end of the Angkor Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Preah Khan is among the park’s most striking temples. The evocative ruins of the temple, built by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century, lie tangled amid the roots of silk-cotton trees, its perimeter guarded by 72 stone garudas (mythological bird creatures).More
#4
Neak Pean

Neak Pean

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The prolific King Jayavarman VII was behind the creation of numerous temples in Angkor, but Neak Pean is one of his most unusual. A bit off the trodden tourist path, the temple sits on a small island in a reservoir, flanked by four smaller ponds fed by carved gargoyles. Scholars believe that in building the temple, the king was trying to recreate the sacred Anavatapta Lake in the Himalayan Mountains, which is believed to be situated at the top of the universe.At the time Neak Pean was built, devotees would come to the temple to bathe in the waters, which were believed to have healing powers. This site in particular is an interesting example of one of many “hospital” temples and structures Jayavarman was famous for building.While the central temple itself is blocked off, a wooden platform takes visitors out toward it and makes for a beautiful stroll, especially in the evening when the light of the sunset reflects off the water.More
#5
Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

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Explored by Angelina Jolie in 2001’s Lara Croft:Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm is ubiquitously known as “the Tomb Raider temple.” A 12th-century Buddhist monastery and temple complex enmeshed in a web of towering tree roots, it’s one of Angkor’s—and Cambodia’s—signature sights and stands as an eerie symbol of the transience of human endeavor.More
#6
Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei

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Small but perfectly formed, the delicately carved rose pink temple of Banteay Srei is a masterpiece of Angkorian art. The name means “Citadel of the Women,” likely because of its many carvings of “apsara” nymphs. First built in 967 AD, long before Angkor Wat or Angkor Thom, it’s about an hour’s drive from the main archaeological area.More
#7
Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom

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The sprawling temple complex of Angkor Thom, an ancient Khmer capital formerly ringed by a crocodile-infested moat, surpasses the world-famous Angkor Wat in both size and scale. Each of the site’s five gates are heralded by avenues lined with 108 deities that represent good and evil, which provide spectacular photo opportunities before you even step inside.More
#8
Terrace of the Elephants

Terrace of the Elephants

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Located within the ancient walled city of Angkor Thom and part of the Angkor temples UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Terrace of the Elephants is renowned for its exquisite stone carvings. Built at the end of the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, the temple takes its name from the depictions of parading elephants that adorn the terrace walls.More
#9
Ta Som Temple (Prasat Ta Som)

Ta Som Temple (Prasat Ta Som)

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Known for its photogenic gateway (gopura) choked by the roots of a strangling fig tree, Ta Som is one of Angkor’s smaller temples. Jayavarman VII built the complex in the late 12th century, and it’s particularly scenic because it’s still overgrown. The inner sanctuary includes towers with faces like those at the more famous Bayon.More
#10
Pre Rup

Pre Rup

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A favorite Angkor sunset spot, Pre Rup is a 3-tier mountain temple topped with five sanctuary towers. Built in 961 AD as a temple to the Hindu god Shiva, Pre Rup’s name means “turn the body,” and some believe it was used for cremations. Its warm brickwork and red laterite stone look beautiful at sunrise or sunset.More

Trip ideas

Must-See Temples at Angkor Wat

Must-See Temples at Angkor Wat

How to Spend 2 Days in Angkor Wat

How to Spend 2 Days in Angkor Wat


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