Allotting 1 day to explore the Angkor temple complex is squeezing in too much. This is what I learned when a friend and I had this trip in 2013. Because we only had limited time, we wanted to see as many temples as we can. However, I realized it’s best experienced slowly (and with some quiet time despite the tourist crowds) to better appreciate each structure’s history, architecture and intricate design. Besides, given the weather in Cambodia, it can get exhausting after around 5-6 temples.
Each one has its own story to tell, so it’s best to hire a guide or bring a guide book to make the trip more meaningful. And because there were just so many, I had to type in the names of each temple after I taking a photo so I wouldn’t forget. 🙂
We availed the sunrise tour at Angkor Wat, but it was a cloudy morning in Siem Reap. Nevertheless, Angkor Wat stood majestically in the center. Just thinking about how much history this place holds gives me the goosebumps.
After Angkor Wat, we made our way around the complex on a tuktuk. The driver hardly spoke any English so it was quite challenging, especially when we were negotiating the payment. They have what they call the inner circle of temples- the ones closer to the center, including the famous temples, and then there’s the outer circle or the farther ones (Bantay Srei is the most notable in this group).
The temples came in all forms, colors and sizes.
Some were pretty straightforward which made them easy to navigate..
Some were entangled in century-old trees.. Ta Phrom is famous for being featured in the Tomb Raider movie.
Some were built high, with several floors and elegant steep staircases..
Some temples had stricter rules for entry. We didn’t go inside this one because of the dress code 😦
Some were guarded with intimidating gates..
While others were kept hidden deep in the forests.
(above: walkway leading to Neak Poan)
Some temples gave a more rustic vibe in orange and golden hues.
Aside from elephants, the most common personality is the apsara. Most of the temple walls also depict stories of Buddhist mythology. I can’t help but be amazed at how detailed they are, and how they were able to preserve all these.