A remnant of the Khmer Empire of Cambodia, Angkor is a huge temple complex centred on the temple of Angkor Wat, one of the largest Hindu temples in the world. Immediately recognisable and utterly exotic, this is another of those ‘must-visit’ sites, drawing thousands of visitors each year from all over the world. Read on to find out more about this incredible complex!
The Khmers are ancestors of Cambodians and rulers of the central Indochina region from the 9th to the 15th Century. Built in a spirit of religious fervour, Angkor Wat was built according to the Hindu idea of the universe – a rectangle, surrounded by ocean and enclosed by a wall, with a holy mountain at the centre. The temple represented the mountain, and the moat surrounding it represented the ocean. The sandstone walls of the buildings are carved in bas-reliefs, depicting religious figures, scenes from Hindu mythology, and city and peasant life at the time.
Although it’s mostly surrounded by jungle now, and definitely isn’t on the list of the world’s biggest cities today, it’s thought that Angkor was the world’s largest preindustrial city. Featuring scores of temples, basins, dykes, reservoirs and canals, Angkor was the very epicentre of Khmer Kingdom.
Key sites in the complex include the jungle-submerged Ta Prohm Temple which features in the film ‘Tomb Raider’, as well as the Bayon Temple with its giant stone-carved faces. A minimum of 2-3 full days is needed to visit the main ruins of the fabled Angkor complex.
As a gateway to the Angkor complex, Siem Reap is the ideal base for exploration. With a picturesque riverside location, colonial and Chinese-style architecture and leafy tree-lined boulevards, Siem Reap is embracing its ever-growing number of visitors with new hotels, restaurants and luxurious spas.
Visit Angkor Wat on our tours to Southeast Asia!