Phnom Bakheng, the temple mountain dedicated to Shiva, offers a 360 degree view of the Angkor Archaeological Park and is a popular spot to watch the sunset. However, the sun does not really set behind Angkor Wat. Today was also particularly too cloudy for any actual sunset viewing, but watching the crowd more than made up for it.
Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II, roughly between 1113 AD and 1150 AD, as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, Angkor Wat gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century.
Designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the gods of Hindu mythology, Angkor Wat is considered the the largest religious monument in the world today.
Best Time to Visit. Do wake up before dawn to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat and then come back between 11AM-3PM for less crowds and a more quiet experience.
For Practical information about Hours and Admission (Angkor Pass), click HERE
Bayon, the State Temple of King Jayavarman VII, in the center of Angkor Thom is famous for its multitude of serene, smiling and gargantuan stone faces of Avalokiteshvara on its many towers. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful temple in the whole Archaeological Park.
The hauntingly beautiful Ta Prohm is one of King Jayavarman VII’s major temples and one of the largest in temples in the Angkor complex. The temple-monastery has intentionally been left in it’s "natural state" as an example of how Angkor looked upon its discovery in the 19th-century.
Best Time To Visit. Early in the morning when everybody else is at Angkor Wat. The temple is also specially serene and atmospheric at this time of day.
Hidden Gem. Although it is popularly known as the "Tomb Raider Temple" because Angelina Jolie, Ta Prohm’s other claim to fame is a bas-relief of what seems to be very convincing rendition of a stegosaur on a vertical strip of roundels on one of it’s gopuras. Just yell "Dinosaur!" and someone will point you to its location.
Largely unrestored, the 12th-century temple of Preah Khan is one of King Jayavarman VII’s largest projects. It is believed to also have functioned as a Buddhist university.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat 2.0
Banteay Srei is one of the smallest temples in Angkor and the only one not built by a monarch. A Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva whose name means ‘Citadel of the Women’. The temple is believed to have been built by a woman, as the elaborate carvings are supposedly too fine for the hand of a man. Because of this, it is considered by many to be the jewel in the crown of Angkorian art.
To Get Here. Hire a tuk-tuk for a 30 minute ride to Banteay Srei.
The Angkor National Museum is a state-of-the-art showpiece on the Khmer civilisation. The exhibits are themed by era, religion and royalty.
The Dance of the Apsara Divinities, the Khmer classical dance created by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia in the mid-20th century under the patronage of Queen Sisowath Kossanak.
Since I’m from one of the countries that do not need a visa to enter Cambodia or Thailand, crossing the border to/from either side is an easy and straightforward process: exit stamp on Cambodian side. Walk a little. Entry stamp on the Thai side. The first time I went through this process, it took only around 10 minutes to cross. The second time, took 2 hours (!) as there were more people in line to have their passports stamped.
Before you Cross. If you are NOT from an ASEAN country, check your visa requirements and have them in order before embarking on your trip, or get one at the border if you are a national who qualifies for a visa on arrival.
Hours of Operation. The border is open from 7AM-10PM ONLY.
Avoid Eye Contact. Ignore anyone who approaches you — touts and scammers. Just because they are really annoying.