Temples of Siem Reap
One of the highlights of not only Cambodia but on every world traveler's bucket list is to visit the temples of the Khmer Kingdom. While Angkor Wat is the temple with the household name, there are many more to see than just than this ancient temple from the 12th century.
Angkor Wat: Well this is a no brainer to add to your list of temples to check out. The question is how long and how many times will you visit this temple.
Detailed engravings cover ever inch depicting a story from centuries ago. Going for sunrise is on everyone’s bucket list which is why you’ll see a hoard of tourists all lining up for the same picture.
Yet my favorite moment at Angkor Was was just an hour before sunrise. We had a seasoned tour guide and he took us through a back entrance to where everyone stands for the sunrise that included going through the temple. We were literally the only people in the temple using our flash lights on our phones to navigate the pitch black corridors. Finally, he brought us to an outer edge of an adjacent building (which actually was the library) where we sat on the corner and admired the temple in complete silence with glow of the stars shining down.
Gate to the Lost City: While this may be obvious in the name, this isn’t a temple but is still a sight worth seeing. There were four main gates to the ancient city of Angkor Thom and this gate is the one left most in tact.
Bayon: One of the great parts about the temples of Siem Reap is that each of them are unique in nature. Bayon is no exception as there are over 200 faces built into it making it an enjoyable one to climb around on. This was one of my faves.
Preah Kan: This temple was another example of the uniqueness that comes with the temples in Siem Reap. This one was engulfed by the jungle creating a sense of serenity as we walked through.
Ta Som: A much smaller temple, it used to be famous for having tree trunks cover the face. Unfortunately, the tree fell thus the picture all the tourists are looking for is no longer there.
Bantarey Sai: While a lot of the temples are within the same vicinity, Bantarey Sai is about 30 minutes from the main area. While are the temples have intricate designs, this temple in particular is known for the preciseness of it’s carvings.
Ta Prohm: This was my favorite temple and is often the favorite temple of most tourists. Outside of it being the most interesting temple, it also became famous as this was the set for Angelina Jolie’s hit, Tomb Raider. While there are other temples engulfed in the jungle, Ta Prohm easily takes the cake in terms of sheer awe.
Pre Rupp: This pyramid shaped temple is one of the hot spots to watch the sun go down in Siem Reap. That said, Samantha and I were wiped after 7 hours of temple touring on our first day in Cambodia so we thought it would be better to watch the sunset at our private pool villa with a cocktail in hand.
Here are some general tips for touring the temples:
-Transportation: The temples are not really close enough where you can walk from temple to temple so the three options are bike, tuk tuk and car. Tuk Tuk is probably the easiest and cheapest (our tour package came with a car) although you may want to have a tour guide to help you get around and give you some insight to the temples.
-Spread it out: Touring the temples is a lot, you may want to spread it out over a day or two if you can so you don’t get templed out. There is plenty more to do in Siem Reap than just explore the temples. I would spend no more than 4 - 5 hours in one day exploring the temples because it can become exhausting, especially in the heat.
-Sunrise at Angkor: It’s going to be packed, if you want to get a front row seat so you don’t have a bunch of selfie sticks and go pro poles in your way, you’ll need to go a little earlier.