No trip to Cambodia would be complete without a pilgrimage to the temples in Angkor!
Angkor, which is the name of the entire temple compound, is a great piece of ancient history. It is a magnificent jewel, worthy capital of the powerful Khmer Empire 830 years ago. It is also believed to be the largest city in the world at that time since it had around 4 million inhabitants.
Angkor is located in the northern part of Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is considered as one of the most important archeological sites in the South-east Asia and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
We travelled from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by motorbike. It was the longest mini-motorbike adventure we had as we rode 400 km. It was a trip full of fun and adventure.
Passes are required before you can enter the Angkor area. Make sure that you get a right ticket for you. If you are into architecture and you like visiting temples, they offer a 7 day pass which costs $60. However, if your time is limited or if you think you are already burnt out visiting monuments and temples, there is a 1 day pass available which costs $20 to explore the temples. The 3 day or 7 day tickets don’t have to be used on a consecutive days, which is a good thing especially if you feel that you need a break in between. The 3-day pass is good for any 3 days within a week while the 7-day pass is good for any 7 days within a month.
We bought a 3 day ticket ($40) and spent 3 days visiting the temples so that we experienced as much as we could. Each temple has its own unique appeal with spectacular photo opportunities. When we visited Angkor, so many temples were crammed with people, but we made the most of it and braved the crowds.
We like Angkor! The temples of Angkor are simply among the most breathtakingly beautiful places that we have ever been privileged to see. They are all overwhelming and the ruins are interesting. Amazing stonework and carvings are scattered everywhere. We were also fascinated to learn about the history. The view is great, even seeing this once made our hair stood up and our heart skip a beat.
We were lazily wandering around the Angkor Wat, the largest, prime, and most famous among the temples in the Angkor complex. We were attracted to its complexity and astonishing architecture. We also enjoyed the series of elevated towers, chambers, porches, galleries and the courtyards.
We rode north towards Angkor Thom. It is like a great walled city. At the entrance of Angkor Thom we were greeted by different smiling faces. We first visited Bayon temple, a temple which is widely known for its multitude of Buddha’s mysterious faces looking at you from a distance and from every corner with benevolence. Our amazement had continuously increased as we continued to visit other temples.
After we strolled Bayon, we headed to North Kleang which means “The Warehouse Temple.” We were told that no one knows what this temple was built for; probably it was used as a storage place for some very important things. This building has a simple design and it is rarely visited by tourists. We climbed the top and explored the place.
It was already the hottest part of the day and the humidity was absolutely unbelievable, we felt that we needed a quick snack so we stopped in one of the restaurants inside Angkor Thom to get some fresh coconut juice and cold beers.
Our next stop was at the long Terrace of Elephants. It was a huge area and the grandest terrace of Cambodia where the King watched public ceremonies.
From the Terrace of Elephants, we continued our journey to Ta Prohm temple where we ended our 2nd day of temple hopping. This temple is best known for the twisted trees that sit over the ruins.
We started our 3rd day at Ta Keo temple, a temple mountain which was built entirely of sandstone. We conquered Ta Keo, climbed the top at our risk and enjoyed the beautiful view.
Then we continued our journey to Thomannom temple, a single-towered temple which was built around the time of Angkor Wat by King Suryavarman II. It was restored in 1960 by a French organization.
After visiting Ta Keo temple, we headed towards Baphoun Temple, a three-tiered mountain temple. It was built by Udayadityavarman II as his state temple dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu. When we visited the place we couldn’t get through the central structure since at the time the restoration was still ongoing. Instead, we explored some of the outer parts of the temple.
In short, the Temples of Angkor were simply inspiring. We were exhilarated, energized and enriched by the history of the place after our 3 day pilgrimage. Even though it was a long, tiring 3 days, our exhaustion was matched with enduring sense of wonder at the magnificence we witnessed throughout. With the bit of energy we had left we spent another couple of days to visit other places in Siem Reap. … 😉