We will take a short drive to Angkor Wat, the most stunning temple in Cambodia and the biggest religious building in the world. Then we will discover many temples in the small circuit of Angkor Archaeological Park.
South Gate of Angkor Thom
The South Gate of Angkor Thom was built to protect the capital of Angkor Thom. It is a popular entrance to enter Angkor Thom. Two rows of devas and asuras from the Hindu myth of Churning of the Sea of Milk were built at the front of the causeway.
Located about 1km from the South Gate, Bayon temple is the heart of Angkor Thom as it was the state temple of king Jayavarman VII. The 54 towers decorated with 216 of Avalokiteshvara’s smiling faces, makes it look like an alien construction.
Baphoun is the second biggest temple of Angkor Thom and was built in the mid-11th century as a state temple of king Udayadityavarman II for the Hindu God Shiva. It is a pyramid-shaped temple that has three tiers. It is a must-see temple for its gorgeous architecture.
Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King
They are the two close terraces built at the front of the Angkor Royal Palace. The 350m-long Terrace of Elephants was served as a large viewing stage for public ceremonies and used as a base for the king to watch his military training. Next to the Terrace of Elephants, the Terrace of the Leper King is stands north of it with many stunning carvings inside that make your jaw drop.
Chau Say Tevoda, Thommanon and Takeo
Here are the group of temples located outside Angkor Thom capital. They are very impressive temples that should not be missed on this tour.
Ta Prohm was once used as a Buddhist Monastery and a university during the Angkor Period. It is called the Tomb Raider temple since the movie was been filmed in the temple. A large tree grows through the temple and it is the most popular spot for photos.
Banteay Kdei was recently restored, but it is still open to tourists. The surrounding forest of the temple, makes it look mysterious and quiet for explorers.
Srah Srang is a Baray or reservoir of Banteay Kdei. It has very stunning views especially during the sunrise and sunset.
Sunset at Angkor Wat or Bakheng Mountain
Before, we finish our trip, we will continue our journey to the most beautiful sunset sites, Angkor Wat or Bakheng Mountain. You can either see the sunset at the biggest religious monument, Angkor Wat or on the most impressive Bakheng temple, standing on the top of Bakheng Mountain.
We’ll pick you up from your hotel in the morning and head out of town towards the Rolous group, located about 13km from Siem Reap’s Pub Street. It was the first capital of Khmer Empire, Hariharalaya. After, king Jayavarman II established his capital on Mount Kulen in 802, he then moved his capital to Hariharalaya, perhaps for better source of food or for defence purposes.
There are some of the earliest khmer-built temples which mark the beginning of classical period of Khmer civilization, dating back to the late 9th century. The Rolous temple group includes Bakong, Lolei, Preah Ko and other small temples. In most buildings of Rolous group, towers were built from bricks, and carved areas such as columns, lintels and decorative niches were made from sandstones.
After exploring Angkor Wat, we will continue our trip out of the Angkor archaeological sites to Kampong Phluk, located about 37km from Angkor Wat. Kampong Phluk is another floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake in Siem Reap. You will learn about the local culture and discover the lives of people who live on the water.
The hand-made houses are stabilized by a 6-meters stilts to prevent the houses from the floods during the rainy season. In the dry season between December to April, motorbikes can travel through the village. Here, there are clinics, pagodas, schools, restaurants, and churches, etc. Besides visiting the village, we can see the floating forest and wildlife too. This must-see tour will help you to relax while you take it all in.
Then, we will go out of Angkor Thom to visit Preah Khan or the “Holy Sword” temple that has a marvelous architecture style from the Khmer Empire.
Not far away from Preah Khan, we’ll go to visit Neak Pean, built to dedicate to Buddha. This temple once was used to be a medical centre. It is an island temple surrounded by the moat represent as Mt Meru. Neak Pean is right at the centre of Preah Khan’s Baray.
Ta Som is a 12th-century temple built by the great Khmer king Jayavarman VII in honor of his father. Its most significant view is the eastern gopura where a lone fig tree has been grown on the top.
East Mebon is the temple situated in the middle of now dry East Baray. It is the model of the later Pre Rup temple that will also be visited.
Pre Rup means “Turning the Body” and it is a temple located 1km south of East Mebon. It is a popular temple for sunrise and sunset.
We will visit only two wonderful archaeological sites of Angkor, Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean. It will be a good learning experience about the history and culture of Cambodia.
When we pick you up at the hotel, we will begin our tour with Banteay Srei temple, meaning the “Citadel of the Women” or “the Citadel of Beauty”. It is located about 35km northeast of Siem Reap city. The only temple that wasn’t constructed by a monarch, Banteay Srei was built in 10th century by two courtiers of King Rajendravarman II, Vishnukumara and Yajnavaraha. This temple was Consecrated on 22 April 967 A.D and dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.
Banteay Srei is considered as a “precious gem” or “the jewel of Khmer art” because it is different from other temples in Cambodia and was built from pink sandstone. Most of the structures and decorative wall carvings are still noticeable today. Many Cambodian people think that this temple was built by women because of its very beautiful carvings that could be done by women.
After visiting Banteay Srei, we’ll go to visit Kbal Spean, located in the jungle about 12km from Banteay Srei. This archaeological site is known as “the River of a 1000 Lingas”. The reason it has this name because numbers of old stone carvings and countless Lingas, the phallic symbol of god Shiva can be seen in the riverbed. The carving of Kbal Spean took two reigns of the king, Suryavarman I and king Udayadityavarman II, who ruled between the 11th and 12th century. This brilliant ancient site is highly recommended to anybody who is interested in studying about the history of Cambodians.
Banteay Samre was built by king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as a Hindu temple. It uses the same materials as Banteay Srei, and it is still in good looking until today
We will come and pick you up from the hotel and begin our trip to the 40km-long mountain range, Phnom Kulen. We must be there before 11am because it has only one small road. It is located about 50km north of Siem Reap town and it was the source of sandstone to build temples during the Angkor period. When driving up the steep hills, we will see the most beautiful landscape ever seen.
It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Phnom Kulen is also a protected area as a National Park by the Cambodian government. There are many interesting sites to visit on Phnom Kulen. We will see the elegant waterfall that is divided into two parts. The top is a 5m high and 20-25 wide waterfall, and the lower part is a 15-20m waterfall that used to film Tomb Raider. It is a good place for relaxing and swimming.
We will go to visit Preah Ang Thom, a 16th-century giant reclining Buddha, measuring up to 8 meters. The statue was carved into a huge sandstone. Preah Ang Thom is considered as a holy place to worship in Phnom Kulen. We will also see a big foot-print of Preah Bat Choan Tuk near Preah Ang Thom.
We then will visit the River of 1000 Lingas or Kbal Spean, located 1.5km from the waterfall. To access Kbal Spean, we have to walk on a small path into the forest. There are many figures of Lingas and Yoni and other carved Hindu Gods into the rocks of the riverbed.
Then, we will hike back to the mountain to see the Terrace of Sdach Kamlung or Terrace of Leper King, meaning in English. There is a small wrecked monument built of bricks in the middle of the plain terrace.