No visit to South-East Asia is complete without a trip to Cambodia’s World Heritage Temples of Angkor complex that covers more than 400 kilometres. Although home to hundreds of temples in various structural states, the most renowned and iconic temple is Angkor Wat.
As mentioned the Temples of Angkor site is huge! However, there are many ways to navigate your way around from elephants and tuk-tuks to bicycles and there are multi-day passes to the area available to everyone. My choice was to hire a tuk-tuk driver for two days at a negotiated price. The driver was pretty handy when fighting his way through the flooded streets of Siem Reap back in Cambodia’s wet season of October 2011.
I want to take you on a short photo journey through just a few of my favourite temples.
After the fall of the Khmer Empire the Temples of Angkor were left to be reclaimed by the jungle for centuries before being restored.The evidence for this can be seen at Ta Prohm Temple – the location used in the film Tomb Raider, where trees en-strangle the ruins. This atmosphere of this temple is intense, it’s a real step back in time.
Angkor Thom Temple has 5 entry gates but it absolutely must be accessed via the south gate, Why!? Because the causeway is lined with 54 gods and 54 demons which are quite a site leading up to the huge entry tower that has four large, stone faces.
If you’ve never had the feeling that someone was watching you, you will certainly feel it at Bayon Temple as you enter a maze of hundreds of huge, stone faces staring (yet smiling) in all directions. You will find yourself in awe of the craftsmanship of such a spectacular building.
Angkor Wat Temple is simply huge, the largest of all the temples of Angkor and is surrounded by water. The most popular sight of Angkor Wat is at sunrise when the warm colours of the rising sun and shimmering temple reflection in the water make a post-card perfect backdrop for the temple – even on the cloudiest of days! Tourists flock in their thousands to see the encapsulating sight year- round. It’s not difficult to see why Angkor Wat is so popular, it’s a maze of stone corridors, courtyards and chambers made even more mesmerising by the dancing light of sunrise.
The temple grounds are full of opportunities to explore, scramble through passageways and windows, climb the monstrous steps and even meet some friendly locals! Be warned, there are a lot of street sellers lining the temple complex, particularly children. However, as I found some small change and a game of naughts and crosses is enough to bring a smile to a little girls face. You need more than a full day to really appreciate the Temples of Angkor so schedule yourself some time in your upcoming itinerary.