10 Angkor temples worth a visit

10 Angkor temples worth a visit

20170102-AU6A3994

The main reason tourists flock to Cambodia is to visit one of the most famous and important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia: Angkor. There are so many temples in the Angkor area that it’s simply not possible to see them all. Based on our visit in January 2017 and the trip-planning research we did beforehand, we made a list of the 10 most beautiful Angkor temples.

Our top tip when exploring Angkor temples is to slow down. Don’t rush around trying to see as many temples as you can fit into one day. Most probably, by the end of such a day you would feel templed out—you would reach the point at which you could no longer appreciate the architecture, all the temples would look the same, and stones would be just stones, no matter how they were carved. Visiting just a couple of temples each day and then doing other activities—like visiting the Tonlé Sap villages, Siem Reap market, or Wat Bo Monastery, the Apsara dance show, or swimming in Phnom Kulen waterfall—worked best for us. And don’t forget to rest at your hotel’s pool during the hottest part of the day.

1. Angkor Wat

No visit to Angkor Archaeological Park is complete without a visit to Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. Many people visit Angkor Wat at sunrise to grab an iconic photo of the sun rising behind the towers. If you do that, be prepared to share the view with thousands of others. Or, you can go in the evening instead—that’s what we did. The Angkor Wat temple faces west and looks beautiful in the evening light. Angkor Wat never feels empty; there are still a lot of tourists visiting in the evening. But we were not competing with thousands of people trying to take a photo by the pond; there were only about ten people besides us enjoying the view.

20170104-0X8A9997

20170105-AU6A5719

Open hours: Daily from 5:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
When to visit: Go in the evening, and stay until it closes.
Time needed: 2 hours. You can easily spend even more time there if you want; the complex is massive, and every square centimeter of wall space is adorned with carvings.

2. Bayon

Bayon is recognizable from the giant stone faces that adorn its towers. There are 54 towers of 4 faces each, totaling 216 faces. It’s actually difficult to find a spot where stone eyes aren’t watching you. There is still a debate about whose face is depicted there. The version we’ve heard is that it is a combination of King Jayavarman VII and Buddha.

20170102-0X8A8976

20170105-0X8A0057

20170105-AU6A5060

20170102-AU6A3969

Open hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
When to visit: The best light for photography is around 4:30–4:45 p.m. (in January), and after about 5 p.m., the temple becomes pleasantly empty. It is also very quiet early in the morning.
Time needed: 1 hour.

3. Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm, used as a location in the film Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie, is famed for the trees growing out of the temple walls. It offers many great photo opportunities but hosts too many tour buses throughout the entire day, with enormous queues for taking photos near the most picturesque trees.

20170102-0X8A8512

20170102-0X8A8518

Open hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
When to visit: Early morning, as soon as it opens; you might get lucky and be allowed to enter even a bit earlier. After 9 a.m., Ta Prohm gets very crowded.
Time needed: 2 hours.

4. Preah Khan

We absolutely loved this temple—it was our favorite. It gets much less tourist traffic than the first three temples, and there are tons of nooks and crannies to discover. The monstrous tree roots creeping over the ruins at the east-side gate are not to be missed.

20170101-AU6A2507

Open hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
When to visit: Early morning.
Time needed: 2 hours.

20170105-AU6A5261

20170105-0X8A0393

5. Ta Som

Ta Som should be visited even just for the coolest temple doorway in the entire Angkor Archaeological Park. Make sure you walk the entire grounds to the very back.

20170105-0X8A0496

Open hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
When to visit: Anytime.
Time needed: 1 hour.

6. Ta Nei

Ta Nei has had little restoration and is very authentic. With the jungle that has overtaken this temple and the boulders that fill most of the area, we felt like we were part of an archaeological expedition making our way through the grounds.

20170102-0X8A8739

Open hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
When to visit: Anytime.
Time needed: 30 minutes.

7. Banteay Kdei

This is one of the quieter temples, and because it’s located in a forest, you can feel and hear nature around you. It is not as overtaken by the jungle as the nearby Ta Prohm. Only at the back of the temple is there an impressive banyan tree breaking up the temple surface and growing on top of it.

20170102-AU6A3584

20170102-0X8A8658

Open hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
When to visit: Anytime.
Time needed: 1 hour.

20170102-0X8A8703

8. Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei is a very small temple. The carvings in the pink stone are very detailed and simply amazing. Tourist buses will disappear around 4:30 p.m., making the visit a lot more pleasant.

20170103-0X8A9341

20170103-0X8A9319

Open hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
When to visit: The last hour before closing or the first hour after opening.
Time needed: 1 hour.

20170103-0X8A9436

9. Preah Palilay

Preah Palilay is a very secluded temple that has some pretty cool trees in front of the chimney-like tower. There is a little Buddhist monastery near the temple, and the presence of monks is not uncommon.

20170102-0X8A8832

20170102-0X8A8854

Open hours: Daily from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
When to visit: Anytime.
Time needed: 30 minutes for the temple and 30 minutes for the nearby monastery.

20170102-0X8A8864

10. Terrace of the Leper King

This is not actually a temple, but the place shouldn’t be missed. The Terrace of the Leper King is located in the northwest corner of the Royal Square of Angkor Thom, right next to The Elephant Terrace. There is a hidden maze-like trek with walls covered in amazingly well-preserved bas reliefs from top to bottom, making it a great photo op.

20170102-AU6A3891

20170102-0X8A8907

When to visit: The light was beautiful when we visited around 3:30 p.m.
Time needed: 30 minutes.

Good to know:

  • A pass is required to enter Angkor Archaeological Park. The price of a single-day ticket is $37, a 3-day pass is $62, and a 7-day pass is $72. Every driver in Siem Reap knows where to buy the tickets. We had 5 full days in Siem Reap and bought a 7-day pass.

 

Visited in January 2017.

3 Comments

  • Avatar
    Алексей

    Здравствуйте Марина!

    Скажите пожалуйста на счет прививок – делали ли вы какие-то прививки специально для этой поездки? Есть ли какие-то советы по этому поводу?

    Мы собираемся посетить Камбоджу в 12.2017/01.2017 и это будет первый визит в юговосточную Азию. Если это имеет значение, то летим из Германии.

    Спасибо.

    July 2, 2017 at 10:06 PM
    • Marina
      Marina Shalamova

      Здравствуйте Алексей!
      Прививки лучше обсуждать с вашим врачем. Мы ничего не делали перед Камбоджией, но мы регулярно ездим в ЮВА и Африку, и у нас итак уже стоят все базовые и рекомендованные прививки.
      https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/cambodia

      July 2, 2017 at 10:53 PM
      • Avatar
        Алексей

        Большое спасибо!

        July 3, 2017 at 9:31 PM

LEAVE A COMMENT

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.