Cambodia has many names including Land of Khmer, Goldenland, Land of Peace and Prosperity, or as it's officially called - Kingdom of Cambodia. Whatever your preference may be, it's a fantastic country shrouded in a cloud of mystery.
This beautiful, religious country draws visitors from all over the world every year because of its enchanting temples. After Angelina Jolie filmed the movie "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider", she really put the little city of Siem Reap on the map. People began visiting the town and the temples, falling in love with the architecture and mystery of it all. There is a wonderment about this kingdom that is stuck in an ancient world colliding with a modern one.
Most visitors can’t describe the sensation they feel when they see Angkor Wat the first time other than it has put a spell on them. Once you see the majestic temple, your first thought is how did they build this with primitive tools to stand the test of time. Next thought is a series of feelings - joy, amazement, awe, astonishment…
If you have only one day or a few days to visit, here is a list of my favorite and most important temples. I suggest getting a guide as they know a lot about the history of each temple.
When most people think of Cambodia, they almost always think of Angkor Wat. It’s said to be the largest religious monument in the world. It was built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple but later becoming a Buddhist temple. Visitors can go into the temple as well as climb to the top to view the surrounding area.
Another famous temple is The Bayon or also known as Angkor Thom. Bayon is known for its massive smiling, stone faces throughout the temple. Built in the late 12th or early 13th century, this is the last state temple built in Angkor. It’s located in the former city of Angkor Thom, thus where its name originates. It is said to have 200 faces present day, but at one time there could have been many more. You may climb through the small, dark walkways to explore all the faces and rooms in the temple.
Ta Prohm was made famous by Angelina Jolie when she filmed the Tomb Raider movie. Due to the film, most call it the Tomb Raider Temple as opposed to the official name. However, this temple is not only known from the movie, but also because the trees tower over the temple, draping their roots down the walls and through the walkways. This temple has not been restored, other than manmade walkways, which allowed the plants to take over the temple encompassing it in a dense jungle. Climbing is not allowed in this temple as it’s a pile of rubble, but you may walk along the pathways admiring the majestic trees and how they seem to defy the odds by living on and in the rubble.
This temple is visited for the aerial view looking over the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Although, there is not much exploring to this temple, there are a lot of staircases, so be ready to sweat once at the top. Last renovated in 2011, the temple is in good condition.
Cambodia is an excellent destination to visit, but can also be a bit overwhelming when deciding where to visit. Call me today for details and advice for your next Southeast Asian trip.
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