There are few places anywhere on earth to match the splendour of Angkor Wat. The temple is one of the largest monuments to religion ever built and is truly one the wonders of the world. Believed to have been constructed as a temple and mausoleum for King Suryavarman II at the peak of the Khmer empire in the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat is probably the best-preserved of the Angkorean temples. As with other Angkorean temples and walled cities such as Angkor Thom, the central theme of Khmer architecture revolved around the idea of the temple-mountain.
By the time building on Angkor Wat was begun early in the 12th century, this had been elaborated to a central tower surrounded by four smaller towers. The central monument represents the mythical Mount Meru, the holy mountain at the centre of the universe, which was home to the Hindu god Vishnu. The five towers symbolise Mount Meru’s five peaks. It is difficult to express in words the enormous scale of Angkor Wat, but it can be explained in part by a look at the dimensions of the complex, 190 metres wide and forming a rectangle measuring 1.5 km by 1.3 km.
The moat surrounding the temple represents the oceans of the world. A rectangular wall measuring 1025 metres by 800 metres borders the inner edge of the moat. There is a gate in each side of the wall, but unusually for the mainly Hindu-influenced Angkorean temples, the main entrance faces west. This entrance is a richly decorated portico, 235 meters wide with three gates. However, the temple’s greatest sculptural treasure is its 2km-long bas-reliefs around the walls of the outer gallery and the hundred figures of devatas and apsaras. This intricately carved gallery tells stories of the god Vishnu and of Suryavarman II’s successes on the battlefield. The whole complex covers 81 hectares.
You must possess an admission pass (an ‘Angkor Pass’) to visit the temples and sites in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Passes may be purchased at the main entrance on the road to Angkor Wat.
Passes are sold in one-day (US$37), three-day (US$62) and seven-day (US$72) blocks that must be used on consecutive days. The prices apply only to foreign visitors. There is no discount for students, but for children younger than 12 is free (with showing their passport). A photo of you will be taken at the counter. The Angkor Pass is not transferable to another person.
The Angkor Pass can only be purchased at the official ticket centre, located 4km away from Siem Reap town and open from 5am to 5.30pm every day. Tickets purchased from hotels, tour companies and other third parties are not valid. There is a significant fine for not possessing a valid ticket inside the park. For more information, please visit www.angkorenterprise.gov.kh.
Most of the temples in the park can be visited from7.30am – 5.30pm, but there are exceptions:
- Angkor Wat and Srah Srang can be visited from 5am – 5.30pm, to make it possible for visitors to witness the sunrise;
- Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup can be visited from 5am – 7pm, to make it possible for visitors to witness both the sunrise and sunset.
More information, including Angkor Visitor Code of Conduct can be found here.
Prasat Baksei Chamkrong is located 150 meters (492 feet) north of Phnom Bakheng and 80 meters (262 feet) from the road leading to the south gate of Angkor Thom. A visit to Baksei Chamkrong can be combined with a stop at the south gate of Angkor Thom. Enter and leave the temple from the east entrance.
The stairs to the Central Sanctuary are in poor condition but the architecture and decoration of this temple can be viewed by walking around it (in a clockwise direction). It was built in middle of the tenth century (947) and was the first temple-mountain at Angkor built entirely of durable materials brick, laterite and sandstone. Even though it is small the balanced proportions and scale of this monument are noteworthy. Inscriptions on the columns of the door and the arches give the date of the temple and mention a golden image of Siva.
The Siem Reap River parkways and the big park in front of the Hotel Grand d’Angkor are nice for a jog, stroll and people watching, especially in the early evening hours when the locals are out in numbers. The river area is pleasant and the park is nicely landscaped. There are plenty of drink and snack vendors around. The king’s Siem Reap residence is just across from the park.
The Lotus Farm is a unique fair-trade eco-textile workshop in the world. The visit aims to present in detail the whole process of fabrication, from the extraction of the fibres in the stem of the lotus, to the weaving of the fabric.
It is the most ecological fabric in the world, creating products of excellent quality combined with the respect of the environment and of the social values.
The Lotus Farm is located 15 minutes from Siem Reap downtown, on road 63 to Phnom Krom and Chong Kneas (Tonle Sap). Click here for more information.
The Lake is the largest fresh water body in South East Asia. It is an important commercial resource, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia, and is located about 15 km south of central Siem Reap. Chong Khneas is the name of famous floating village at the edge of the lake.
Travel from Siem Reap to the boat dock takes roughly 30min, while the boat trip through the floating village takes approximately two hours. You will explore the different of Khmer, Muslim and Vietnamese floating households and the floating markets, fisheries, clinics, schools, basketball course, pigsty and other boatloads of tourists.
The boat trip usually includes two stops: one at a touristy floating ‘fish and bird exhibition’ with a souvenir and snack shop, and the other at the very highly recommended Gecko Environment Centre, which offers displays and information introducing the ecology and biodiversity of the lake area.
The Civil War Museum in Siem Reap is the only war museum in Cambodia. It offers visitors a unique and insightful view of the perils that Cambodia faced during the last three decades of the 20th century. It gives also visitors an excellent opportunity to learn more about what actually occurred during Cambodia’s ‘war years’.
It has a unique collection, you will also be able to see war machines like the tank T-54, the jet fighter aircraft MiG-19, the helicopter Mil Mi-8 and the field artillery gun 85-mm divisional gun D-44.
You can take a free guide to lead you around. Each of the guides has his own unique background: war veterans, eye witnesses of the war and landmine victims. Therefore, not only could they tell you about the last three decades of the 20th century history of Cambodia and about the collection of the museum, but also about their personal experiences during the defined period of time.
You can hold small arms, from a M16 or a AK-47 (Kalashnikov), to a machine gun like the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR).
The purpose of this museum is to keep the memory of such an important episode in the history of Cambodia alive and to preserve the unique collection for posterity.
The War Museum is located near National Highway No. 6, between the city of Siem Reap and Siem Reap International Airport.
The War Museum Cambodia is open daily from 8:00 to 17:30 hours.
- $5 foreign visitor
- $1 Cambodian
Fee includes free guide, parking, Wi-Fi, and photography/video permit.
The museum opened in November 2007. A visit is a comfortable, air-conditioned alternative to visiting the temples themselves, and a nice educational supplement to the history of Angkor if you visit the park without a tour guide. It’s composed of eight separate galleries, all connected by a vaulted corridor with a series of fountains and lined with what seems like all the Angkorean limestone lion and demon heads missing from statues at the temples. After an explanatory film screening called Story behind the legend, you’re pointed toward the galleries:
Gallery 1: 1,000 Buddha Images
This is the only gallery that’s just one large room, rather than a series of maze-like alcoves, and the sight of all these Buddhas at once is striking. Hundreds of small and miniature Buddha figurines, made of metals, jewels and wood, all individually illuminated, line the walls here, identified according to the period they were made during and where they were discovered. In the centre, life-size and larger Buddha characters are displayed. The display includes Buddhas from Banteay Kdei, Bayon, Angkor Wat and Preah Vihear.
Gallery 2: Pre-Angkor Period: Khmer Civilisation
This gallery and all the subsequent ones combine mural-size explanations and short films through maze-like rooms explaining Angkorean history. The styles of figurines precede the trademark Angkor style, and there’s a large collection of lingas, lintels and colonnettes.
Gallery 3: Religion and Beliefs
This room explains several of the most significant Hindu and Buddhist religious stories and folk tales depicted on Angkorean temples, including the most memorable Churning of the Sea of Milk carved into the rear wall at Angkor Wat. Carvings of Buddhist and Hindu religious figures are concentrated here as well.
Gallery 4: The Great Khmer Kings
The gallery focuses on King Jayavarman II, Yasovarman I, Soryavarman II and Jayavarman VII, those most responsible for Angkor’s greatest constructions. Figures of the kings and relics from the temples they commissioned abound.
Gallery 5: Angkor Wat
There’s a large film gallery inside this section of the museum. It features beautiful, panoramic images of the temple and explanations of how it was constructed. There are also many restored figures from the temple itself as well as post-Angkorean wooden statues used for worship at the temple until several hundred years ago.
Gallery 6: Angkor Thom
In addition to recovered artefacts from Angkor Thom, this gallery includes a history of and artefacts from the vast irrigation projects commissioned by the king who built Angkor Thom with his smiling face looking out from every tower: Jayavarman VII.
Gallery 7: Story From Stones
This room is one of the most interesting. It’s a collection of stone pallets with ancient Khmer and Sanskrit inscriptions. The writing on each slate is explained on placards below. The writing on them includes the declaration of the construction of a new hospital, lists of slave names, mediations of land disputes and adulations of kings and gods.
Gallery 8: Ancient Costume
From Apsaras and kings to princesses and warriors, this room contains the busts and statues of distinct fashions and styles as they evolved throughout Angkor time. There’s also a collection of ancient jewellery and headdresses.
1 Apr – 30 Sep: 8:30am to 6:00pm
1 Oct – 31 Mar: 8.30am to 6:30pm
Online Reservations: http://www.angkornationalmuseum.com/booking
There is a crocodile farm on the south end of Siem Reap with about 300 crocodiles of various sizes. They charge USD $1 admission for foreigners and 1,000 riel for Cambodians. Just head south on Sivutha Street, cross the bridge and it’s down another km from there.