The geographical and spiritual center of the ancient city of Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple 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.The Basics
As with other signature Angkorian sights, entry to Angkor Thom—and with it Bayon Temple—is included in the Angkor Archaeological Park admission ticket, available for durations between one day and a week. Choose among bicycle tours, tuk-tuk tours, and car tours, or opt for a small-group or private tour. These typically explore Bayon and Angkor Thom, including Terrace of the Elephants, Royal Enclosure, and Baphuon. Travelers who visit with a guide get historic background on the reliefs.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Most visitors to Siem Reap visit Bayon Temple, but it holds special appeal for history buffs and photographers.
- As with other sites in Angkor Archaeological Park, a dress code applies to Bayon Temple. Wear an outfit that covers your shoulders and thighs.
- To truly appreciate the faces of the Bayon Temple, you need to enter the temple and climb steep stairs. There is no wheelchair-friendly alternative.
Bayon lies at the center of the city of Angkor Thom, part of Angkor Archaeological Park, about seven miles (11 kilometers) north of downtown Siem Reap. Angkor Thom is about a half-mile (one kilometer) to the north of Angkor Wat. There is no public transport to or within the park, so most travelers opt to join an organized tour or arrange a private driver or driver/guide with a motorbike, tuk-tuk, or air-conditioned vehicle.
When to Get There
Bayon Temple is one of Angkor kingdom’s signature sights, after Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat, and it's open from early morning to late afternoon seven days a week. As the site faces east, tour groups tend to arrive in the morning. For a quieter visit, visit Angkor Thom in the afternoon and make Bayon Temple your last stop.
Whose Face Is on the Temple of the Faces?
King Jayavarman VII ruled the Khmer Empire in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, building Ta Prohm and establishing Angkor Thom. Bayon Temple was originally constructed with 54 towers, each boasting four faces. Some believe they represent the king overseeing the empire’s 54 provinces; others believe they show him as a god-king; still others think they are Buddha or even Brahma.