Cambodia is home to more than 1,000 temples, and the nation's crown jewel is undoubtedly Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. This massive complex (picture at top) is just one of several temple sites you can visit when in Siem Reap, though. We explored Siem Reap as the first stop on a two-week voyage with Avalon Waterways through Cambodia and Vietnam. Here are the five temples we wandered through (while sweating buckets under the hot sun).
Angkor Wat is famed for its spires that represent lotus buds, and the sprawling facility that was "lost" has been gradually reclaimed from the forest of the past two centuries. Now, a UNESCO World Heritage site, visitors flock to the picturesque temple, which is depicted on the Cambodian flag, to marvel at the stone buildings that feature intricate carvings and reliefs that tell the stories battles and daily life in the Khmer Empire.
Over the centuries the trees and temple have merged, with the roots both destroying parts of the walls while holding up other sections. The jungle also has spread a mossy carpet over several surfaces, and massive bee hives hang in the trees. The effect creates a spooky and surreal atmosphere at the temple, displaying the incredible power of the jungle. While most temples in Cambodia have rigorous programs for preservation and restoration, Ta Prohm receives limited stabilization work to keep the towers and walls safe to explore.
The aim is to preserve the unique and visually appealing aura of the muscular roots embracing the temple.
To visit these sites in and around Siem Reap, visitors must get a park pass, which allows access to all temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Tickets can be bought at the ticket center complex on the main road to Angkor Wat. Tickets are $37 for one day or $62 for a three-day pass, and you will be photographed to create a ticket with your picture on it. It's also easy and inexpensive to hire a tuk tuk (or remork) driver to take you all around Siem Reap during your stay. Just flag them down on the road whenever you are set to head out for the day.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy your visit to Siem Reap. It's an amazing experience to be sure.