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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
Royal Enclosure (Royal Palace)

Royal Enclosure (Royal Palace)

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For about 500 years, a wooden palace stood near the center of the city of Angkor Thom, the former capital of the Angkor Empire. Today, a large walled area called the Royal Enclosure (or Royal Palace) is all that remains. It houses two bathing pools and the Phimeanakas, a small pyramid temple.More
#2
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
#3
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
#4
Terrace of the Leper King

Terrace of the Leper King

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Just north of the Terrace of the Elephants in the 800-year-old city of Angkor Thom, the Terrace of the Leper King takes its name from the statue that stands atop it. Around 20 feet (6 meters) high, the grand platform stands out for the detailed carvings on its exterior and interior walls: kings, princesses, spirits, sacred snakes, and more.More
#5
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
#6
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
#7
Neak Pean

Neak Pean

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The prolific King Jayavarman VII was behind the creation of numerous temples in Angkor, but Neak Pean is one of his most unusual. A bit off the trodden tourist path, the temple sits on a small island in a reservoir, flanked by four smaller ponds fed by carved gargoyles. Scholars believe that in building the temple, the king was trying to recreate the sacred Anavatapta Lake in the Himalayan Mountains, which is believed to be situated at the top of the universe.At the time Neak Pean was built, devotees would come to the temple to bathe in the waters, which were believed to have healing powers. This site in particular is an interesting example of one of many “hospital” temples and structures Jayavarman was famous for building.While the central temple itself is blocked off, a wooden platform takes visitors out toward it and makes for a beautiful stroll, especially in the evening when the light of the sunset reflects off the water.More
#8
Pre Rup

Pre Rup

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A favorite Angkor sunset spot, Pre Rup is a 3-tier mountain temple topped with five sanctuary towers. Built in 961 AD as a temple to the Hindu god Shiva, Pre Rup’s name means “turn the body,” and some believe it was used for cremations. Its warm brickwork and red laterite stone look beautiful at sunrise or sunset.More
#9
Banteay Kdei

Banteay Kdei

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Less visited than Siem Reap’s “big three” (Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm), Banteay Kdei is a 12th-century Buddhist monastery that lies conveniently close to Ta Prohm and Srah Srang. The towering trees that overgrow the site add atmosphere, while it’s easy to imagine ancient monks praying and sleeping in the tiny cells as you stroll.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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