Prepare for the divine inspiration! The temples of Angkor, capital of Cambodia’s ancient Khmer empire, are the perfect fusion of creative ambition and spiritual devotion. The Cambodian god-kings of old each strove to better their ancestors in size, scale and symmetry, culminating in the world’s largest religious building – Angkor Wat, and one of the world’s weirdest – the Bayon. The hundreds of temples surviving today are but the sacred skeleton of the vast political, religious and social centre of an empire that stretched from Burma to Vietnam, a city that, at its zenith, boasted a population of one million when London was a scrawny town of 50,000. The houses, public buildings and palaces were constructed of wood – now long decayed – because the right to dwell in structures of brick or stone was reserved for the gods.
The temples of Angkor are the heart and soul of the Kingdom of Cambodia, a source of inspiration and national pride to all Khmers as they struggle to rebuild their lives after years of terror and trauma. Today, the temples are a point of pilgrimage for ails Cambodians, and no traveler to the region will want to miss their extravagant beauty.
It is easy to spend as long as a week at Angkor, seeing the temples at a leisurely pace, returning to the principal attractions several times to see them at different times of day, and taking in newly emerging sites further a field. However, many travelers feel that four or five days is the ideal length of time to spend at Angkor. This is just about long enough to fit in all the highlights of the Angkor area, but even with only two days at your disposal you can pack in a lot (providing you make some early starts). One day at Angkor? Sacrilege! Don’t even consider it.
Must see temple of Angkor activities:
- Stare in awe at the mother of all temples, Angkor Wat
- Succumb to the enigmatic smiles of the 216 giant faces of the Bayon, Angkor’s strangest temple
- Experience nature running riot at the mysterious ruin of Ta Prohm, the original Tomb Raider temple
- Marvel at the exquisite carvings adorning the tiny temple of Banteay Srei, the finest seen at Angkor
- Venture into the jungles of Cambodia to discover the River of a Thousand Lingas at Kbal Spean