What To Do in Siemriep
The temples of Angkor were built between the 9th and 14th centuries, when Khmer civilisation was at the height of its extraordinary creativity. From Angkor, the kings of the mighty Khmer empire consolidated their position as one of the greatest powers of South-East Asia, ruling over a vast territory that extended from the tip of what now is southern Vietnam north to Yunnan in China and from Vietnam west to the Bay of Bengal. It is easy to spend a week or more at Angkor, seeing the temples at a leisurely pace, even returning to the main attractions several times to see them in different light conditions. Unparalleled in South-East Asia, Angkor rates among the foremost architectural wonders of the world and is truly magnificent.
The traveller’s first glimpse of Angkor Wat, the ultimate expression of Khmer genius, is simply staggering and is matched by only a few select spots on earth such as Machu Picchu or Petra.
Angkor Wat is, quite literally, heaven on earth. Angkor is the earthly representation of Mt Meru, the Mt Olympus of the Hindu faith and the abode of ancient gods. The ‘temple that is a city’, Angkor Wat is the perfect fusion of creative ambition and spiritual devotion. The Cambodian god-kings of old each strove to better their ancestors’ structures in size, scale and symmetry, culminating in what is believed to be the world’s largest religious building, the mother of all temples, Angkor Wat.
The fortified city of Angkor Thom was built by Angkor's greatest king, Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181-1201). The city has five monumental gates, one each in the north, west and south walls and two in the east wall. In the center of the walled enclosure are the city's most important monuments, including the Bayon, the Baphuon, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas and the Terrace of Elephants.
The temple of Ta Prohm rates with Angkor Wat and the Bayon as one of the most popular attractions of Angkor. Its appeal lies in the fact that, unlike the other monuments of Angkor, it has been left to be swallowed by the jungle and looks very much the way most of the monuments of Angkor appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them. Indiana Jones would be thrilled.