Visiting Kingdom of Cambodia wouldn’t be complete without visiting its iconic temples. It is a home of hundreds of century-old architectures made by strong spiritual devotions and great Khmer empire culture. Angkor Archeological Park, a complex located in Siem Reap, is where most of its beautiful temples are located and it attracts millions of visitors each year!
So if you wish to visit this country and do temple hopping, I listed some of the temples you shouldn’t missed seeing.
No question, Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s most iconic and most visited temple. It was built during 12th century to worship God Vishnu and said to be one of the largest religious site in the world. Be overwhelmed stepping on its massive ruins as Angkor Wat was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is 1992. The temple structure is even included on Cambodia’s national flag so you shouldn’t miss seeing this pride.
Angkor Thom is a complex in Angkor Archeological Park and the last capital city of the Khmer empire. The complex has five 20-meter high gates with four faces and two rows of seven-headed Naga carrying figures.
Bayon Temple is located at the heart of Angkor Thom complex and known for its four-smiling faces stone towers. It was built late 12th century as official temple of King Jayavarman VII. The faces carved on the towers are said to be the face of King Jayavarman VII.
Ta Keo is a temple-mountain in Angkor or should I say a “pyramid-like” temple. It has five towers on the uppermost part of steep pyramid. The stairs going up is so steep that I was too afraid to go on the uppermost level.
Ta Prohm is one of the popular temples in Siem Reap since it was featured in the movie and game Tomb Raider. One distinct feature of this temple are the huge trees that grows and shrouded the century-old ruins. Due to its jungle-like structure and atmosphere, it became popular to tourists.
Banteay Kdei means “Citadel of Chambers” and believed to be the smaller version of Ta Prohm and Preah Khan. The temple said to be occupied by monks over the centuries until 1960s.
Banteay Srei which means “Citadel of Beauty” is located about 30 km away from Siem Reap center. Be amazed of its meticulously carved structures made by pink sandstones making it worth your visit. You will appreciate its beauty especially in the early morning where the color of its ruins tend to be somewhat orange, golden brown or pinkish which is far different from those found in Angkor complex.
Preah Khan is actually one of my personal favorites. It is built in 12th century for King Jayavarman VII to honor his father. Like Ta Prohm, it has huge trees that grows out on the ruins but with lesser tourists and has walls carved with Garudas. Big part of the temple is still destroyed and left unrestored but for me that what makes it more special, seeing the beauty of the untouched past.
Neak Pean is an island temple on the middle of a man-made lake. You can reach it by passing through a wooden bridge. It was originally designed to be “hospital” since ancients believed that going to those pools will cure diseases.
East Mebon is a 10th century temple dedicated to Hindu God Shiva that stand on an artificial island at the mid of now dry reservoir.
The temple’s name means “turn the body” which Cambodians believed that this temple has been used for funeral ceremonies. Pre Rup is much like a smaller version of East Mebon. We passed through this temple early in the morning and it is a must-view to see!
It is a temple at the top of hill located about 10 km southwest of Siem Reap dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The temple has three towers built during the 9th century. It is one of the best spot to watch sunset with the view of Tonle Sap Lake during wet season or fields during dry season.