There is probably nothing that can prepare a person for Angkor. Books read and photographs seen many times still cannot capture the atmosphere of this place. Lost in the jungle, the once magnificent city of the mighty Khmer Empire has its unrelenting magical charm of mystery and grandeur.
The temples of Angkor are Cambodia’s national symbol and are also one of the hopes for a better future for the country. The calming and stabilization of the political and security situation in the country has enabled the long-awaited boom in tourism. While this means the development of tourist infrastructure, on the other hand, the massively overcrowded Angkor, one of Asia’s most visited and most impressive monuments, may gradually begin to lose some of its unique atmosphere.
However, the rapid influx of wealthy Western tourists also has its negative effects. Perhaps nowhere else have we encountered such outrageous overpricing and also pretense, otherwise not very typical for this part of Asia. Fortunately, not everyone here is like that yet, just go a little further from the main tourist routes.
Angkor is the largest archaeological site in the world, covers an area of an incredible 230 km2 and contains about 200 temples. From the 9th to the 15th century, Angkor was the capital and heart of the Khmer Empire. Most of its great temples were built in the 12th century, during the heyday of the empire. Angkor was built on a site believed to be the home of Hindu gods. They are actually the largest and also the most beautiful Hindu monuments outside India. At the time, Angkor was the largest metropolis in the world with a population of half a million.
When Angkor was reconquered by the Thais in the 15th century, it was abandoned and the capital of the empire became Phnom Penh. However, the reasons for Angkor’s decline were probably more complex and complex, with environmental problems and the related lack of food resources also playing a role. Probably the most serious of these problems were large-scale deforestation, disruption of the fragile water system of the canals and probably also overfishing in Tonlé Sap Lake. Angkor then lay forgotten and engulfed in the jungle until its rediscovery in the 19th century.
The sunrise over Angkor Wat is an extremely impressive scene. It is a wonderful welcome at one of the most beautiful Asian monuments. Angkor Wat is the most famous and also the most impressive and impressive of Angkor temples. It is undoubtedly a masterpiece of Khmer architecture and is considered to be the largest religious structure in the world. The typical silhouette of the temple is formed by five towers in the form of lotus buds. It was built between 1112 and 1152 by King Surjavarman II. as a tribute to the god Vishnu, whose incarnation the Khmer kings considered themselves. The temple has an area of 235 m2 and the temple facade is 187 m wide. The access road is twice as long as the facade of the temple. It was deliberately built in such a way that, from the point of view of perspective, the impressiveness of the temple stands out even more and the newcomer saw the temple in its full beauty. The silhouette of Angkor Wat at sunrise or its reflection in the surrounding moats is perhaps the most typical local scene photographed here. Yet it still remains an experience to see it all with your own eyes.
However, Angkor is not just Angkor Wat, in the shadow of its glory stand other great temples. Among the most famous is Bayon, the main temple of the fortified city of Angkor Thom, built around 1200 on an area of more than 10 km2. Bayon is characterized by its forest of towers, depicting the face of the mythical Lokeshwara stylized in the form of the builder of the temple, King Jayavarman VII. There are a total of 54 towers and each has 4 faces of the king. The whole area of Angkor Thom has an area of 9 km2.
One of the largest imposing buildings in Khmer, the Ta Prohm Buddhist temple, is, unlike other temples, left in its original state, as it was found, completely engulfed in the jungle. The ruins of the building are permeated with a massive intertwining of tree roots, which, like tentacles, surround a variegated stone. The arms of the jungle give the temple a unique atmosphere of the mysticism of a long-lost world.
A little further away from the main complex lies the best-preserved Angkor temples, the elegant Banteay Srei, recently finally opened to the public after demining. Although relatively small compared to other Angkor monuments, Banteay Srei is considered the most beautiful temple in Angkor due to its delicate elaborate reliefs.
Angkor is undoubtedly one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, and unfortunately it has also affected the turbulent history of Cambodia. UNESCO has created an extensive program to save the monument, which has unfortunately also been inscribed on the World Heritage List in Danger since 1992. International efforts to save him have made it probably the largest workplace for rescuers and archaeologists in the world.
The imposing city of the defunct Khmer Empire thus attracts with its beauty and uniqueness, awakens the imagination of its visitors and the national pride of ordinary Cambodians.
How to get to Angkor Wat from Siem Reap
There are many tours available all around the Siem Reap city and every hotel is able to book a tuk-tuk driver to get you there.
Never buy your tickets before arriving at Angkor Wat Ticket Purchase Centre (outside the complex) on your way there. There are 1, 3 and 7 days tickets available as the extremely large complex might need more time to see both the sunset and sunrise and explore the whole site thoroughly.
Note: Ask the Tuk Tuk driver to drive along the Siem Reap River on the right-hand side on the way to Angkor Park. The route is so much nicer than through the city along the main road.
When should I arrive to see the Sunrise?
It is necessary to hit the road from Siem reap at around 4:00 AM as the journey itself takes around 20-30 minutes by tuk-tuk and you may need to buy your ticket if you haven’t done before. From parking area at the Angkor Wat complex, it is another 800m walk to water lily pond.
Advice: Exchange the phone number with your driver as it will make it so much easier to find him on your way back.
There will be 2 different tour circuits available. See the Angkor Wat map below.