Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia, built in the early 12th century as a temple and capital city. It is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation firstly Hindu and dedicated to the god Vishnu, and after to Buddhist.
It is the world’s largest religious building and is of classical Khmer architecture it has become a symbol of Cambodia, even appearing on its national flag, and it is the country’s prime tourist attraction.
Angkor Wat lies 5.5 km north of the modern town of Siem Reap
Built within a moat and having an outer wall of 3.6 km (2.2 mi) long it is the biggest of the Temples you will see. It is the southernmost of Angkor’s main sites in an area of Cambodia where there is an important group of ancient structures although Angkor Wat is an amazing place some of the other Temples and structures hold the same magnificence.
One of the first Western visitors to the temple was a Portuguese monk who visited in 1586 and said that it “is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of”.
However, the temple was popularised in the West only in the mid-19th century on the publication of Henri Mouhot’s travel notes. The French explorer wrote “There were no ordinary dwellings or houses or other signs of settlement including cooking utensils, weapons, or items of clothing usually found at ancient sites. Instead there is the evidence of the monuments themselves”.
These temples are amazing.
I visited these temples over 12 years ago first time and have been back many times since and although things have changed it still retains that magical feeling.
You are better off in my opinion planning your holiday out of season if this is intended to be one of the highlights of your holiday, and that is only due to the large amount of people who visit the temples now.
If your holiday is booked for the high season I would recommend getting up very early and arriving at the temples before dawn to be there when the sun comes up. You can also go late and stay for the sunset which also has that amazing feeling of wonder.
You will be staying in Siem Reap which is 20 minutes from the Temple check point, when you arrive and have your photograph taken and complete a small form, you will get a laminated pass with your photo on and valid for however many days you think you will be visiting the temples for, which you may on occasion be asked to produce by the security that wander amongst the temples to ensure no damage or thefts of ancient stones are occurring.
Prices of passes are not particularly high and are approx. $35.00 US for 1 day or $75.00 US for 3 days.The town of Siem Reap has also developed very quickly to cater for the large increase in tourist numbers and now has a street full of restaurant/bars and many others scattered around town.
There are a number of Hotels in the town varying from very basic and cheap accommodation right through to the must luxurious suites in very exclusive Hotels. You will also find shops, markets, crocodile farm, museum, traditional craft school and a few other attractions should you need some time off from visiting the Temples, or if you are staying in one of the reasonable Hotels you will have a swimming pool to relax in followed by a great massage and out for an evening with a Khemer Cultural Show and a good selection of both Western and Khemer food.
We will arrange your complete trip if you would like including all your transport, guide, accommodation, flights and give you some ideas of where to go to eat and drink.
Angkor Wat required considerable restoration in the 20th century, mainly the removal of accumulated earth and
vegetation. Work was interrupted by the civil war and Khmer Rouge control of the country during the 1970s and 1980s, but relatively little damage was done during this period other than the theft and destruction of mostly post-Angkorian statues. They are still restoring many of the Temples today which are spread over apprx.100km2.
This article was written by Nam. She works at “Holiday Garden Resort” which is a private road with Luxury Villa’s for holiday rentals in Pattaya, Thailand. Her husband is English and has lived in Thailand for 9 years and has traveled extensively throughout Asia.
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