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Siem Reap

Images of Angkor Wat have become iconic of Cambodia, but there are many more lesser known temples to visit in the vast archaelogical National Park close to Siam Reap. 

Extending over 400 square kilometres and with 1000 temples to see, the park contains the ruins of several capitals of the Khmer Empire that existed between the 9th and the 15thCenturies. Siem Reap itself, a few kilometres from the park,  will be your home for the time that you spend visiting the ruins here. The town has an excellent selection of restaurants, bars and boutique shops for you to explore.

Things to See and Do:

The iconic Angkor Wat with its tall towers resembling Mt. Meru, built in the early 12th Century and still in use today. This should be number one on your list of temples to visit and shouldn’t be missed on a Cambodia holiday. Whether you see this temple at sunrise (as we recommend) or sunset, it doesn’t matter, you will be one of hundreds of other people doing the same thing. It’s the busiest and most popular of all the sites in Angkor.

Ta Prohm is the most exciting temple to see in the park, with tendrils of overgrown roots that, over the centuries, have disfigured the temples beautifully. Ta Prohm is best visited at dawn, not only for the blissful lack of other tourists or for the feeling of being lost in the jungle, but the sun will illuminate the moss-covered walls giving you a sense of complete awe for the original builders.
 
Angkor Thom was built to honour the Hindu Gods that they worshipped. It is much bigger than Angkor Wat, but most of the complex is covered in rainforest. The centre piece is the incredible Bayon Temple with numerous stone heads that adorn the towers of the temple. Due to the tall temples making it a little dark for photos, go around 10am or 4pm, which should give you enough light for some great shots.
 
Preah Khan, meaning Sacred Sword, is partially reclaimed by the jungle and is definitely a temple you should try and visit as part of your tour. In its heyday it was a thriving monastery and university with around 1000 monks. There are many small sanctuaries here, each devoted to a particular God.
 
Similar to Preah Khan, Banteay Kdei , Banteay Kdei is just across from the Srah Srang Reservoir, the Royal Bath, a popular spot for fishermen to cast their nets. During the dry season, the remains of a temple can be seen in the middle of the lake.
 
Banteay Srei is best seen in the early morning, mainly to miss the crowds but also to make the most of the accommodating light. Banteay Srei is a small but beautiful temple with delicate bas-reliefs wrought out of pink sandstone. Often spoken of as the Jewel of Khmer Art for its complex carvings.
 
Phnom Kulen was the first capital of the Angkorian civilisation, but due to its location in thick jungle it is one for the serious adventurer! It is, nevertheless, well worth the effort to get there. Built between the 7th and 8th Century, most of this complex is hidden by the jungle but the laterite towers are an incredible sight, and there is an impressive ancient kiln site and a stone sculpture of the God King of the Elephants.
 
Tonle Sap Lake is an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Located south of Siem Reap, it is well worth an afternoon out on the lake visiting the many floating villages and experiencing lake life up close. You can also see the ruins of Phnom Krom, which are also best seen at sunset. 

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