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Indochine Tour - 14 Days

Angkor Temple Guide


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The ruins of Angkor are found to the north of the Tonle Sap Lake near modern-day Siem Reap and many people visit Siem Reap with the sole intent of using it as a base from which to visit Angkor. The largest pre-industrial city in the world at 400sqk, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the wonders of the world.

The site features some 30 Hindi and 20 Buddhist temples and many have been left to crumble into disrepair but are still fascinating and unforgettable places to visit. At the heart of the site is the Hindi Phnom Bakheng temple with its 108 surrounding towers and the much-photographed Angkor Wat itself stands to the side in the jungle.

Angkor's temples and other structures are amazingly well preserved. Thousands of tourists pass through the temples every day. While pathways are worn smooth from the passage of millions of feet and centuries of rain, some of the bas-reliefs seem so starkly new they might have been carved into their sandstone as recently as yesterday. In fact, thanks to the on-going restoration programme they may have been!

Because of the sheer scale of the site it's recommended to hire a guide in Siem Reap over a few days.



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angkor wat photo

Constructed: Early - Mid 12th Century C.E.
King/Patron: Suryavarman II
Religion: Hinduism
Style Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is one of the most stunningly impressive pieces of architecture in the world. Consisting of a three-tiered pyramid crowned by five lotus-shaped towers, which rise 65 metres above the ground. Without doubt Angkor Wat is the star attraction of any visit to Angkor.

The temple was constructed by King Suryavarman II and dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu. It served as his state temple, though many have the opinion that Angkor Wat was constructed as the King's funeray temple, due to the temple's uncommon westward orientation.

A moat surrounds the temple as well as an exerior wall measuring a massive 1300 metres x 1500 metres, and the temple is 1 km square. Bas-reliefs and carvings cover the walls of the temple both inside and out.

The visual impact of Angkor Wat, particulary on one's first visit is really amazing. As one passes through the outer gate glimpses for the first time, it's size and architecture makes it appear two-dimensional, like a giant postcard photo against the sky.


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bayon temple photo

Constructed: Late 12th Century C.E.
King/Patron: Jayavarman VII
Religion: Buddhist
Style Bayon

The two must see temples of Angkor are without doubt, Angkor Wat and Bayon. The Bayon temple are probably the most recognized of all due to the giant stone faces which are connected to Khmer art and architecture.

Consisting of 37 standing towers, most but not all sporting four carved faces oriented towards the cardinal points. No-one knows for sure who the faces represent, but they may be Loksvara, Mayahana Buddhism's compassionate Bodhisattva, or perhaps even a combination of Buddha and Jayavarman VII. Bayon was the state-temple of Jayavarman VII. Some of the main features to look out for, are the bas-reliefs on the lower level's exterior wall and on the upper level where the stone faces reside. Real-life scenes from the historical sea battle between the Khmers and the Chams, are displayed on the southern walls, in the form of bas-reliefs.


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preah khan photo

Constructed: Late 12th Century C.E.
King/Patron: Jayavarman VII
Religion: Buddhism
Style Bayon

In 1191, five year after the building of Ta Prohm, the king dedicated this temple to be the shelter of the idol of his father, Dharnindravarman II, in the likeness of Bodhisattva Lokesvara. The causeways lead to the temple are bordered by the same figures carrying a Naga symbolized the Churning the Sea of Milk. This architectural element was the mark of a royal city. It may have served as a temporary residence of King Jayavarman VII while he was rebuilding the capital after the Charms sacked Angkor in 1177.

Preah Khan is the name of the sacred sword, the safeguard of Cambodia, which is preserved in the palace of Phnom Penh, it seems that there is a connection between this precious arm and the name of the monument, a name which is not unique among the temple of the country. It is among the largest monuments. It includes a set of four concentric enclosures are longer to the east and west (800m by 700m, 7m high), giant Garudas and serpents are decorated every 50m around the 3km long wall.

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ta prohm photo

Constructed: Mid 12th - Early 13th Century C.E.
King/Patron: Jayavarman VII
Religion: Buddhism
Style Bayon

One of the must see temples in the Ankor Complex is Ta Prohm. Most would remember this temple monastery because of its association to the 'Lara Croft Movie' featuring Angelina Jolie, and others because of the lasting impression it makes to the visitors. They say that Ta Prohm was one of those very few temples chosen by the French explorers that was left in its 'natural state', as an example of how most of Ankor looked on its discovery in the early 19th century.

As you enter, you get greeted by a playing band, all land mine victims playing classic Cambodian songs with their native instruments. Trees intertwined among the ruins are especially responsible for Ta Prohm's atmosphere, and have in fact have consistently driven writers to always highlight this extraordinary feature. Although the trees are more of a destruction, they still serve as a support for the buildings.

Ta Prohm is a great ruin living among ancient trees, and is one temple you cannot miss when visiting the Ankor Complex.

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angkor thom photo

Constructed: Late 12th - Early 13th Century C.E.
King/Patron: Jayavarman VII
Religion: Buddhism
Style Bayon

"Angkor" comes from "nagara", which means "town" or "city", "thom" is the Khmer word for "big" or "large". The area of about 10 square kms is surrounded by a huge wall some 8 metres in height and a moat a 100 metres wide, now largely dry. In the wall are a number of large gates, the largest being in the center of the north and south walls. Two are set in the eastern wall.

At its peak, Ankor Thom may have had a population of a million people, more than any other city in the world at that time. Inside the walls a number of kings had their residences built. As houses for mortal people were all built in wood nothing remains of those today




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