Not a walk in the park by any means, here’s a handy guide through the world’s oldest religious site, catered for both day-trippers and those seeking an immersive, multi-day experience.
A visit to the Angkor National Museum ahead of your journey would help enrich your experience with a comprehensive understanding of the temple’s traditions.
Be sure to beat the heat with sunscreen and dress light. Do note that tops should have your shoulders covered and shorts should extend to knee length in observance of temple traditions. Hiking shoes are also advisable to make your journey around the temples that little bit easier. Alternatively, do as the locals do with a sturdy pair of sandals!
It’s easy to get lost in an area that spans over 400 square kilometers, so be sure to pick up a map beforehand and plan your route in advance. Be prepared to set off before sunrise to get the full Angkor experience - the park closes by 6pm. Here we go!
Start the day soaking in the breathtaking sunrise at the tower of Angkor Wat when you first arrive. Roam through the Buddhist-inscribed bas-relief corridors of the temple, lined with imagery that depicts scenes from Hindu mythology.
From there, head to Angkor Thom, once home to over 1 million people and built in an almost perfect square. Start at The Bayon to witness its 54 carved faces in stone before heading to Baphuon, a temple built in tribute to Hindu god Shiva. Nearby is Terrace of the Elephants, a once royal grand stand for public ceremonies.
Venture east via tuk tuk from Angkor Thom to Ta Phrohm, a location heavily featured in the movie Tomb Raider. Abandoned since the 15th century, the temples façade now seamlessly merges with its surrounding jungle.
Wrap up your day with a gorgeous sunset view at the mountain temple of Bakheng, overlooking the fields of Angkor Wat and The Bayon.
Angkor Wat rewards travellers who dedicate more than a day to exploring the historical site. Venture further off the beaten path to visit places like Prasat Neak Pean, a tranquil island built by King Jayavarman VII. Used as a hospital, the island house four connected pools, each representing the elements of water, earth, wind and fire.
Known for its reddish glow, Pre-Rup stands out as one of the better preserved temples in Angkor Wat. Built using a mixture of brick and sandstone, the temple was used to house Buddhist funeral ceremonies. While there, visit the nearby East Mebon, known for its well preserved elephant statues.
Hindu followers not only celebrate life but also acknowledge death, as witnessed at Terrace of the Leper King, highlighted with what is believed to be statue of Yama, the Hindu god of death.
While Angkor Wat has no shortage of roadside vendors selling everything from snacks and refreshments, here are some nearby dine-in options in the area to get away from the heat.
Blue Pumpkin Angkor Café serves up familiar all day breakfast classics along with an array of homemade ice creams and sorbets (including their in-house special Khmer Delight), dressed with sweet potato, red beans & black jelly.
Chez Sophea & Matthieu keep things interesting by serving Khmer favourites like chicken curry and fish amok alongside traditional French fare like foie gras, confit and fresh coffee.
Beyond the historical splendor of Hindu temples, experience another side to Angkor Wat and travel 25 kilometers up north to the village of Banteay Srey District. Boasting the only major temple not built by a royal, Banteay Srey District offers a variety of charming village activities from home stays to boat tours and is also home to the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity. Within the village, be sure to try their local speciality nam ben chok, rice noodles slathered with fish or curry gravy.
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