We will begin the tour early in the morning at around 4:45am and take a short drive to Angkor Wat. We’ll see a beautiful sunrise and discover many amazing things in this mega-religious structure.
South Gate of Angkor Thom
South Gate of Angkor Thom, a 3km by 3km gate, built to protect the capital of Angkor Thom. It is the popular entrance to Angkor Thom. Two row 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 located at 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 in Angkor Thom that 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 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 Leper King is standing north of it with many stunning carvings inside that make you drop your jaw.
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 filmed in the temple. A large tree grows on the temple and it is a popular spot for photos.
Banteay Kdei was recently restored, but it is still open to tourists. There surrounding forest of the temple makes it look mysterious and quiet for explorers.
Srah Srang is the baray or reservoir of Banteay Kdei. It has stunning views, especially at the sunrise and sunset.
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.
Then, we’ll continue our tour northeast to Beng Mealea temple that is about 50km from the Rolous Group. The history of the temple is not clear. Many archaeologists assume that this temple was built during the Angkor Wat period in the early 12th century because its style of architecture looks exactly the same as Angkor Wat. Thus, this temple was built during king Suryavarman II’s reign who also constructed Angkor Wat temple.
In 1992, Beng Mealea became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known as “the sister of Angkor Wat” due to its identical design. The temple has collapsed because of the growth of trees and a long period of civil war. As a result, there are blocks of sandstones lying on the ground. Many tourists don’t make their way to Beng Mealea due to the distance. Thus, it becomes a mysterious and peaceful temple among many other temples in Siem Reap.
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.
After a long day of walking, will find a good place near the waterfall to stop and rest for lunch before we drive down the mountain to visit Banteay Srei temple. We will head to Banteay Srei which is about 10km from Phnom Kulen. The meaning of this temple in English is “Citadel of Women”, and it is known as the “Precious Gem of Angkor”. It is a must-see temple because it is unique as it was built from pink sandstones. Most parts of the temple remain in good condition, so the details of the finest ancient Khmer carvings are still seen today.