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Cambodia is a country in the Indochina area comprising Vietnam Laos Cambodia. This country has surpassed vigorous historical and religious events which causes the country’s backward. The local life standard is much improved these days, though the evidences of the past are still remained such as the killing fields with thousands of bare skulls piled up, or the ruin of Angkor Temples in Siem Reap. Above all, more than 2000 years enigmatic heritages left by previous emperor regime make Cambodia Travel unique and awe-inspiring.
The capital of Cambodia is Phnom Penh once called as the Pearl of Indochina, a city with influential Colonial architecture and culture. And the must-to-see city when you are on you Cambodia Holiday is Siem Reap – the old Khmer Kingdom located in the northwest of country.
Siem Reap is accessed by direct flights from many cities. In the Indochina region, there are flights from Phnom Penh, Sihanouk Ville, Saigon, Hanoi, Da Nang, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Bangkok, etc. Traveling by bus is possible. The visitors can travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by 50 minutes flights or 6.5 hour by local but very good quality bus such as Giant Ibis. There are local buses from Saigon of Vietnam (15 hours with a couple of hours lay out in Phnom Penh) and buses from Bangkok to Siem Reap (8 hours).
Alt anh: Angkor Temples – Siem Reap
With thousands of temples in Angkor complex, you might get confused and even afraid that you might miss a really attractive one. Let’s check out below top ten temples to make sure you’ve seen the best ones:
Alt anh: Angkor Wat Temple
This iconic temple is the largest one in the Angkor Complex. It was built in early 12th century as the temple dedicated to Vishnu God. The 5 lotus stupas appeared outstanding on top of one tallest in the center and the other four at corners of the rectangle representing Mount Meru and its Hindu cosmology ideology.
This grandeur temple, with the impressive bas-reliefs carving storying eloquent and spiritual events such as Lanka battle, the churning of the ocean of milk, Vishnu incarnation, etc. has become the country’s symbol and also an illustration on the ancient King’s ingenuity. Late 12th century, it was turned into a Buddhist temple due to the religious prosperous at the time.
Angkor Wat, a mountain-temple and gallery-temple, is a definite must when you are in Siem Reap. Its opening hour is from 5am (the main temple will be from 7.30am) to 5pm. The visitors can come here for the sunrise and then walk through the Lion and Negra snakes entrance heading toward the temple. It will take 2.5 – 3 hours to admire Angkor Wat.
Alt anh: Bayon Temple - Siem Reap
Settled right in the center of Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple appeared like a ruin pile when looking from afar. It must until you come closers and realize dozens of 4 facets Gothic towers ornated with 4 mysterious gigantic faces from 4 sides. The precise number is 54 towers with total 216 faces.
Many researchers stated that the faces are alike to the faces of Jayavarman King VII and Avalokiteshvara Buddha’s face which bespeak the King’s omnipresence and himself as god-king. These enigmatic bas-reliefs and the far-out structure make Bayon one of the things to do in Siem Reap.
To reach Bayon, let get to the South gate of Angkor Thom, walk along the guarding causeway crossing over the moat and then carry on just 5 minutes, you will find Bayon Temple on the left.
Alt anh: Ta Prohm Temple - Siem Reap
This Buddhist Temple was erected in 1816 as King’s Monastery; then dedicated to worship Jayavarman King VII ‘s mother after his completion of Angkor Wat Temple. Probably the very initial impression on this temple is the outlandish vistas when almost of its parts are swollen by the huge trees’ roots climbing over and hugging to choking but not destroying the temple. This causes a curiosity and admiration from visitors and also make Ta Prohm Temple unique among Angkor Temple in Siem Reap.
The paths in the temples somewhat mislead and become a labyrinth due to unruled slanting of tree roots. One of the overwhelmed feeling when spending around 2 hours exploring this temple will be the giant jungle and powerful nature. Ta Phohm Temple is dubbed as “Tomb Raider Temple” when Angela Jolie was wanderlust through temple’s serene corners with soft sunbeam shining.
Alt anh: Banteay Srei Temple - Siem Reap
There are so many temples in the Angkor archeological park, but it’s not fed up at all when stuff a couple of temples in one day because each of them is pretty unique and worth to pay a visit. Banteay Srei is not freakish when being the only temple built with pink-stone temple. It is also called “Women Temple”. This is not the most enormous and magnificent but an absorbing temple as a highlights of Angkor Temples in your Cambodia holiday.
Banteay is around 40 km (25 miles) from Siem Reap Center. Though it’s a bit far comparing to the ones in Angkor archeological park, the temple is still worth as you can combine with a promise-to-be-exciting visit to rural villages and have an enjoyment on countryside landscape.
Alt anh: Phnom Bakheng Temple – Siem Reap
If you have ever wondered the best temple for sunset in Angkor Temples, Phnom Bakheng is the answer. On its peak, there will be an incredible sunset view on the descent of Angkor Wat as well Western Baray. With such enormous quantity of visitors spend their holiday in Cambodia, the crowd is a concern. These days, it’s limited with 300 guests per day only. If you don’t mind the busy atmosphere, set the time and arrive at around 4pm.
Except being a sunset viewing spot, Phnom Bakheng mountain temple with the height of 65m crowned with 5 shrines which represent Mount Meru, is significant itself as “The First Angkor” constructed in late 9th century when King Yasovarman founded the state and order the very first temple erection. Visiting this emblematic temple early in the morning and at other time of the day except sunset is also a great idea.
Alt anh: Preak Khan Temple – Siem Reap
Listed in Grand Circus of Angkor archeological park, Preak Khan is sited in the northern side of Angkor Thom. Due to the circus rand, biking is not recommended. It’s featured by the stele inscribed with valuable historical, religious and cultural writings. Each Preah Khan Stele is measured 2m by 0.6m with impressive reliefs carving.
You can enter Preah Khan Temple by its 4 gates. The temple is comprised by 4 enclosures respectively reached by the 4 causeways from 4 outland with Dharmasala as a “fire house”, Halls of dancers, the Six sanctuary building, and the first enclosure – as Angkorian Gopurams with ornaments inside; the Inner sanctuary and some outer temples.
Alt anh: Banteay Chhmar Temple - Siem Reap
Banteay Chhmar or “The Citadel of Cats” is among of very least visited temple with roughly only 1,500 annually. Embraced by the jungle foliage, this one is truly an off-the-beaten track in Siem Reap. Little is known that Banteay Chhmar is the 4th largest one after Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Preak Khan temples. Banteay Chhmar is a peaceful and elegant and placid temple with extraordinary bas-reliefs carving. The outstanding one to name is Avalokiteshvaras – multi armed buddha relief. Additional to the core temple, there are other 9 satellite temples to be discovered. This temple entrance fee is separated to Angkor Temple ticket, at USD 5/adult.
It takes 2 hours driving from Siem Reap to Banteay Chhmar. One day trip from Siem Reap is recommended to escape from the crowd and have a perfect journey to authentic rural countryside of Cambodia. If hotel and comfortable stay is not your concern, there is a choice of staying overnight at local homestay in Banteay Chhmar and intermingle further to actual local life. You will able to:
Local people are amiable to talk with and learn about their living as well as culture and thoughts. If traveling during some festival or special events like wedding or village events, you would be invited by the smiley and hospitable people with a more memorable journey.
Banteay Chhmar is highly suggested for those who could spend longer duration for Cambodia Holiday or who is joining a Cambodia responsible travel as Banteay Meanchey Province is still with 23% population living in poverty. Buying the temple entrance fee, staying in homestay and enjoying the activities are best way to delve into the local culture as well as support the villagers.
Alt anh: Beng Melea Temple – Siem Reap
Beng Mealea is a Hindu Temple located remotely in the jungle interpreted as “Lotus Pond was constructed in the same time and shares some similarities with grandeur Angkor Wat. Walking on the corridors in the ruin temple covered with moss and admire its friezes is simple but awe-inspiring. Beng Melea must be one of the things to do in Siem Reap if you are a temple buff. Entrance to enter Beng Melea is USD 5/person. To fill the day venturing far from Siem Reap, you can combine the visit to another marvelous hidden temple Koh Ker or take a hike on Kulen Mountain.
The most ideal time to stroll around Beng Melea is sunrise and early in the morning with fresh air, enchanting light, stirring bird sing and definite quietness.
This temple is around 70 km (43 miles) from Siem Reap center with a ride if 1.5 hour per way. There is a driving tip that from National route 6, let wend your way with the small paths as it will offer a picturesque Siem Reap off-the-beaten road among luxuriant countryside.
Alt anh: Kor Ker Temple – Siem Reap
Located 120 km (or 75 miles) from Siem Reap via 2.5-hour drive, Kor Ker and the journey to this temple treat us a delighted vistas and pleasant remoteness. Due to its isolation and hiddenness in the jungle, Kor Ker temple’s precious jewels sadly have been salvaged for times.
Kor Ker Temple where once the Khmer capital is with pyramid structure comprised of 7 terraces of roughly 40 meter high. It is entered by only the west gate. The rest sides are lush jungle. The Angkor Temple entrance pass is not applied for this one, and visitors will buy Kor Ker Temple ticket separately at USD 10/ person.
Alt anh: Preah Vihear Temple - Siem Reap
Prasat Preah Vihear could be one of the most exceptional Hindu temples in Cambodia; and is also a renown Cambodia pilgrimage place. Situated 202 km (125 miles) from Siem Reap of roughly 5-hour drive, and closed by the frontier of country with Thailand, on a peak of Dangrek Mountains at 525 m high (1,722 ft), the temple cast an intriguing view to the lowland. Prasat Preah Vihear is also less than 100km (62 miles) from Laos Border which can be added into a-life-time design Vietnam Laos Cambodia border tour.
The architecture of Preah Vihear Temple, same to most of Hindu temples, represent the Mt. Meru and is dedicated to Shiva. But it’s unique with a sanctuaries complex allied by an 800m paved and stair cased axis, along with the temple.
The whole design plan and the surrounding breathtaking view making it a treasure of Cambodia Travel.