Seeing the Angkor temples in northern Cambodia is something I never thought I’d get to do. Angkor is made up of multiple temples and former capital cities of kings. The grounds were built between the 9th and 12th centuries, according to archeologists. They were mostly Hindu but later leaned towards Buddhism. To this day Angkor remains the biggest religious monument in the world although little is left compared to its former glory. After some preliminary research, it seemed that this dream of wandering the forests of ancient gods and giant trees could actually come true. Fast forward a few months later and I’m arriving in Siem Reap to kick-off a three week vacation in two countries and five cities.
The very first morning of my stay in Seim Reap I had a tuk-tuk driver arranged and was off to see the remains of the temples of Angkor. You can rent the services of a tuk-tuk driver for $15USD, plus tip. That covers him for an 8 hour day of work and allows him to wait for you to poke around at the different temple locations and drive you from spot to spot. You will need a tour bus or tuk-tuk, as the distance between sites is quite large.
The first stop was the site the grounds are known for; Angkor Wat. It’s the first stop once you pass through the admission gates ($20USD for one day or $40USD for three). I was told that the word angkor means “city” in Khmer and that the entire complex was the former capital city of the Khmer empire. Here’s a look at Angkor Wat:
My next stop was the majestic Bayon temple. This spot known for the many-faced towers that keep watch over the former capital city of Angkor Thom. When we pulled up to the Bayon temple, it took my breath away. I couldn’t see the stone tower faces at first due to the tuk-tuk canopy but once I was able to look up, I had to take a moment to appreciate what stood before me. Here’s a look at the beautiful temple of Bayon.
The final place in Angkor I’d like to share is perhaps most famously known for being a shooting location for the 2001 action movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. This temple is called Ta Prohm and is known for the huge trees that erupt through stone in a slow battle for dominance over the land. Some researchers say that these powerful tree beasts will someday erode the foundation of Ta Prohm and leave what’s left in further ruin once the forest has claimed its throne. This was one of the reasons I wanted to get there sooner rather than later. Without further ado, I present to you the temple of Ta Prohm.
Seeing these three main temples and a few other smaller ones took me 6 hours to walk through. If you’re planning on heading there and want to see a longer tour of the grounds, I suggest the 3 day pass. It’s really busy around sunrise and sunset at most locations since tourists are hunting down that perfect temple picture. Starting my trip in a place like this was incredibly humbling and hard to top. That being said, there were more adventures had and they’ll be published over the next few weeks. Thanks for reading and be well!