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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. Look out for intricate carvings of nymphs dancing on columns in shadowy hallways, serpent-topped balustrades, and huge, chiseled bas-reliefs depicting Khmer Empire battles. Although intended as a microcosm of the universe, it’s difficult to get lost here, with the complex arranged on three easy-to-navigate tiers.More
#2
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
#3
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
#4
Baphuon

Baphuon

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With shaded pavilions and elaborately carved stone pieces, Baphuon is one of the most magical temples in Angkor Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Set within the grounds of Angkor Thom, a huge 12th-century site that dwarfs even Angkor Wat in size, Baphuon attracts visitors with its reclining Buddha and dilapidated charm.More
#5
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
#6
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
#7
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
#8
Phimeanakas

Phimeanakas

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Set near the center of the Royal Enclosure in Angkor Thom, Phimeanakas served as the king’s personal temple during the 10th and 11th centuries, before Jayavarman VII constructed Angkor Thom around it. Historians believe the three-tiered temple was once topped with a gold-covered tower, but very little of it remains.According to local legend, the king would visit the top of the temple each night to meet a woman with the head of a naga (a serpent deity), and that if he failed to show up for the tryst, disaster would strike his kingdom.While many of the temple’s decorative elements have been removed over time, it’s still worth making the short but steep climb to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with excellent views of nearby Baphuon.More
#9
Bakong

Bakong

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Often overlooked by visitors exploring Angkor Archaeological Park, Bakong is a 5-tier temple with its own unique charm. One of the earliest temples in the region, Bakong was built within a strict geometric matrix, a style recognizable in the later Angkor Wat. The temple grounds, home to multiple freestanding satellite temples, provide a welcome break from the crowds of nearby Angkor Wat.More
#10
Phnom Bakheng

Phnom Bakheng

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Built during the ninth century at what was the center of the royal city at the time, Phnom Bakheng (also known as the temple of Shiva) is one of the oldest temples in Angkor. The five-tiered pyramidal structure, built on top of a hill, and was originally surrounded by 108 towers, an auspicious number in many Eastern religions.While the temple ruins of Phnom Bakheng are impressive, the reason most visitors come is to watch the sunset from the top or to attempt to snap the money shot of Angkor Wat rising up from the jungle in the distance (the site sits less than a mile from Phnom Bakheng). To avoid the crowds, consider coming at sunrise instead.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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