Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Angkor.
Angkor Wat is a ubiquitous image across Cambodia, from its position on the national flag to local currency. Cambodians are proud of Angkor Wat, and rightly so. It will not ... Read more about Angkor Wat .
It’s best known as a viewing point for sunset at Angkor Wat and if you’re fond of battling your way through the masses, all with cameras surgically attached to their faces or at a constant arm’s length from their body as though it’s in control of them and not they in control of it, then feel free to join them. The sunset climb of Bakheng should hardly be described as a unique and ... Read more about Bakheng .
On July 3, 2011, Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon were in Siem Reap for a special ceremony to mark the official opening of the restored Baphuon temple. The opening was the culmination of nearly 100 years of work, punctuated by wars, conflict and occupation, made possible by the tireless dedication and optimism of the workers. The final stage, over the ... Read more about Baphuon .
A small but delightfully proportioned pyramid temple, Baksei Chamkrong is well worth a quick stop if you’re passing by. Set among tall trees between Phnom Bakheng and the south gate of Angkor Thom, it’s an oasis of tranquility — with often plentiful birdlife — before you reach the hectic south gate. It is possible to climb the stairs — with some 60 degrees of steepness no less — to ... Read more about Baksei Chamkrong .
Jayavarman VII ruled the Khmer empire from around 1181 to 1220 during which time he decided to strengthen his capital and protect it from further attacks — leading to the walled city of Angkor Thom. Surrounded by moats, an imposing laterite wall and five gates to enter and exit from, the site remained in use for hundreds of years after his death. Work commenced on the city more or less as a ... Read more about Angkor Thom .
Close to Siem Reap, with its own unique appeal and much quieter than your average Angkorian ruin, Banteay Kdei offers the perfect antidote the crowds at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm. It is also conveniently close to the Big Three so you can easily add it to your one-day itinerary, enjoy a little solitude and impress your friends with photos of more than just the usual tourist ... Read more about Banteay Kdei .
The Bayon was the state temple of Jayavarman VII and some of his successors, located at the centre of Angkor Thom. When it was first visited by Western explorers the site was totally overgrown, slowly but steadily being reclaimed by the jungle. Under the guidance of the first Angkor Conservator, Jean Commaille, the site was cleared between 1911 and 1913. At the time he lamented that “Every ... Read more about The Bayon .
As the name suggests, The Terrace of the Elephants is carved with lots and lots and lots of elephants and along with the Terrace of the Leper King, comprises the Royal Terraces. Try to visit here in early morning, when the elephants catch the morning light ... Read more about Terrace of Elephants .
Phimeanakas sits just about at the centre of what was once the Royal Palace compound, which likely began with the construction of the temple around the mid-10th century. It is attributed to either Suryavarman I, Rajendravarman II, or Harshvarman I. Laterite walls surrounded by moats mark the boundaries of the palace area, within which sit several large ... Read more about Phimeanakas and the Royal Palace .
Stark naked, a statue of Yama sits with one knee raised atop the terrace, surveying the Royal Square. Because it is tainted by discolouration and lichen, the statue was believed to be one of a leper, and the name stuck. The statue you see today is a replica, with the original now held in the National Museum in Phnom ... Read more about Terrace of the Leper King .
It sits just to the north of the Leper King Terrace and is worth a quick glance for its pleasant tree-filled setting. An active Buddhist temple is at the ... Read more about Tep Pranam .
Preah Palilay is believed to take its name from Parilyyaka, a forest that features in the stories of Buddha. This theory is supported by the range of Buddhist carvings at the site, including one of Buddha calming an enraged elephant and another depicting the offering of forest animals like monkeys, elephants and ... Read more about Preah Palilay .
The dozen towers that comprise the Suor Prat towers stand directly opposite the Palace enclosure and are placed symmetrically on either side of the royal road leading from the Victory gate to the Elephant Terrace. Really only of interest to those who have a pressing need to closely examine every single Angkor site, Suor Prat is believed to date to the early 13th century during the reign of ... Read more about Suor Prat .
This style — the aptly named Khleang style — is also evidenced at Phimeanakas and Ta Keo. While the two appear to have been constructed as a set, that isn't the case. The northern Khleang was built first, by Jayaviravarman, with the southern following later during the reign of Suryavarman I, but was never finished. Their actual purpose is a bit of a mystery, though given the name means ... Read more about Khleangs .
This collection of five temples, huddled to the north of the northern Khleang, (more or less opposite Tep Pranam), is largely ignored by most Angkor visitors. However, if time allows, it is well worth a wander through, and you'll have the advantage of having the place pretty much to yourself. The partly forested and monkeyed location with small moats and ponds dotted around makes for a great ... Read more about Preah Pithu .
This is a small single-shrined, sandstone temple set in dense forest. While it's an attractive setting, the temple isn't spectacular albeit with some decent carvings lying around. Its importance lies in it being, with the exception of upgrades to some of the Preah Pithu group, one of the last stone temples to be built at Angkor. If you want a bit of peace and quiet and fancy a stroll in the ... Read more about Mangalartha .
Set just off the road from the east gate to Angkor Wat to Banteay Kdei, with its five squat brick sanctuaries Prasat Kravan looks like a bit of a drab affair, but the real attraction is within. There’s a large platform on one side and a pond on the other, where you may spot the occasional frog fishing, as we did on our last ... Read more about Prasat Kravan .
Although it happens every single day with predictable regularity, somehow we usually only seem to find the time to give the daily occurrence of the sun setting more than a passing glance when on holiday. If the bus loads of travellers that make the eventide pilgrimage to the small hill of Phnom Bakheng are anything to go by, located in the central Angkor complex, then sunset chasing could be ... Read more about Sunset at Angkor Wat Moat .
Ta Prohm, of Tomb Raider fame and often referred to as the ‘one with the trees’, is a phenomenal example of the interplay between man and nature and should not be missed. The decision by the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient to leave Ta Prohm in its original state was inspired, as although in places the trees are slowly destroying the monument – with some having to be chopped down in 2014 ... Read more about Ta Prohm .
This unfinished massive temple mountain is almost 50 metres tall and was the first of the Khmer monuments to be built entirely of sandstone. Some say construction may have stopped due to a lightning strike – taken as a warning sign to not continue – others put forward the death of Jayavarman V as more likely ... Read more about Ta Keo .
Built in the late 12th century during the reign of Jayavarman VII, Ta Nei is fairly small and was built with a mix of laterite and sandstone. The main point of interest is the often lichen-covered pediments and lintels, some of which remain in reasonable condition, and its shady forest setting. Relative isolation — cars/vans can’t access the temple via the forest paths — means there are no ... Read more about Ta Nei .
Thommanon underwent a major reconstruction thanks to the Ecole francaise d’Extreme-Orient (EFEO) and is now in remarkable condition. Like many monuments this was originally a walled-in structure, but the outside wall has largely collapsed leaving the gopuras standing alone almost like mini-temples in their own right. Chau Say Tevoda, also a flat temple with a similar layout, sits opposite ... Read more about Thommanon .
Along with its sister temple Thomannon just over the road, Chau Say Tevoda is worth a look if you can spare the time between the more famous temples — but if you only have time for one then check out Thomannon for its superb lintels and ... Read more about Chau Say Tevoda .
The central temples of Angkor are ostensibly split up into two routes — not that you are bound to tour them as such — consisting of the Small Circuit and the Grand Circuit. The Grand Circuit is in fact just an extension of the shorter Small Circuit loop, taking in a few more sites. Both are on good, sealed roads which collectively knock off most of the key temples of interest within the vast ... Read more about The Grand Circuit .
Angkor Wat-bashing seems to have become the pastime du jour for many of the more sniffy travel writers, largely due to the ever-increasing volume of visitors at the justifiably popular temple sites. Of course we would all prefer to enjoy our very own private view rather than share our Angkorian sunrise with thousands of the great unwashed. But unless you are prepared to indulge in a spot of ... Read more about Pre Rup .
Situated in a wooded area just to the right of the road after leaving Angkor Thom’s north gate on the way to Preah Khan, Krol Romeas is not a temple and is thought to have been constructed as an arena of some sort, perhaps for taming wild ... Read more about Krol Romeas .
Crumbling ruins, photogenic trees, imposing causeways, an impressive Hall of Dancers, a columned building recalling Roman architecture, detailed carvings, quiet corners… We could go on. Preah Khan, the highlight of the Grand Circuit route, has it all. And with large proportions, its charm is relatively unaffected by its ... Read more about Preah Khan .
Only the dip of the wooden paddle breaks the serene stillness of the glassy water out on Baray Reach Dak, also known as the North Baray. With over a million tourists a year visiting the temples of Angkor, great swathes descend on the key temple sites daily seemingly oblivious to the fact the Angkor Archaeological Park in fact stretches over 400 square ... Read more about Baray Reach Dak Community Tour .
Just off the Grand Circuit between Preah Khan and East Mebon, Neak Pean is an artificial island temple — a hospital built by Jayavarman VII in the middle of the Northern Baray. Its interest lies in its picturesque setting and unconventional design, consisting of a series of complex ponds within the confines of the square laterite ... Read more about Neak Pean .
Banteay Prei lies just to the north side of the Grand Circuit, roughly between Neak Pean and Ta Som, and for its peaceful wooded location and some interesting carvings it’s worth a quick peek if you’re passing ... Read more about Banteay Prei .
Temples are thick on the ground in this area, near to Neak Pean on the Grand Circuit, indicating just how densely populated these northern suburbs of Angkor Thom ... Read more about Krol Ko .
Ta Som is a compact temple — laterite enclosure wall, reasonably well preserved gopuras and central shrine — all recently renovated. Of particular note is the much photographed eastern gopura covered in tree ... Read more about Ta Som .
The East Baray, a reservoir built due east of Angkor Thom, is an impressive 7.5 kilometres long by almost two kilometres wide. Despite its size, it’s a feature of the Angkorian landscape many tourists are utterly unaware of as it’s almost impossible to notice on ground level to the untrained eye — it has since dried up. It’s well worth looking at on an aerial map and satellite images for ... Read more about East Baray .
When you look at East Mebon today, surrounded by grass, trees, a road a matter of metres away and Apsara ticket guards at the base checking the flow of tourists arriving by foot, it is hard to imagine that when it was actually in use, East Mebon would have been surrounded completely by water and foot access would simply not have ... Read more about East Mebon .
Srah Srang, meaning ‘royal bath’, is a mid-sized baray opposite the east entrance of Banteay Kdei that runs out towards Pre Rup. Some 700 metres long and 300 metres wide, the baray was dug out in the mid-10th century but then built in the 12th century during the reign of Jayavarman VII. It has an almost sublime beauty to it — Angkor expert Maurice Glaize compared its majestic calm to that ... Read more about Srah Srang .
There may be no beach in Siem Reap, but we do have a baray which, when you look into it, is arguably much cooler. The West Baray is an enormous reservoir that was most likely constructed during the 11th century. At 8,000 metres long and 2,100 metres wide, it is equivalent in size to more than 2,000 football pitches, and was built by ... Read more about West Baray .
The multitude of temples at Angkor represent a true challenge to even a dedicated temple fanatic. Hundreds of temples lie in wait, some buried in growing jungle, while others sit conveniently right off the main road. With so much to see, a seven-day pass is clearly the best choice, buying ample adventure for US$60. While a million various routes exist, we took ones that balance chronology with ... Read more about An Angkor cycling guide .
Any recent visitor to the famed temple complex of Angkor Wat must find themselves wondering how many aeons ago all those wistful pictures of a deserted causeway bar a solitary dashing monk were ever taken. Today the typical sounds of dawn have been replaced by thumping boots, whirring cameras and hawkers flogging film. Entrances are staked out with tripods and their menacing owners who’ve been ... Read more about Angkorian traffic woes .
Banteay Thom is a charming temple where the principal appeal is its rural setting; it’s reached only by sandy tracks through paddy and scrubland where you’re likely to bump into a farmer, ox-cart or nobody en route. Locating the temple is not that easy, but the reward is an Angkorian temple to ... Read more about Banteay Thom .
Built upon the orders of Udayadityavarman II, it is thought that perhaps the central sanctuary here was constructed of wood, as that would explain why there is so little left. One impressive find though was a massive bronze statue of Vishnu found in 1936. The statue is now at the National Museum in Phnom ... Read more about West Mebon .
A small, crumbling ruin, the temple of Ak Yum lies just off the track along the southern embankment of the West Baray and was clearly heavily damaged during the lake’s ... Read more about Ak Yum .
The temple of Banteay Srei or the Citadel of the Women, boasts superbly well-preserved and highly intricate stone carvings that adorn the pink-hued sandstone of the delightfully small and intimate ... Read more about Banteay Srei .
Moss-swathed temples ensconced in jungle are waiting to be found on Phnom Kulen, “Mountain of the Lychees”. The low-lying plateau, 40 kilometres from Siem Reap, draws local and tourists alike to its cooling cascades, river carvings and prominent hill top pagoda, which together make for a popular and well-rounded day trip. Yet those with a taste for adventure will benefit further by traversing ... Read more about Phnom Kulen's less visited sites .
The story goes that a poor Samre farmer (Samre were a group of people who populated the Kulen hills to the northeast of Siem Reap) by the name of Pou had a particular talent for growing sweet cucumbers. When Pou presented some of the cucumbers to the then-king, he was so taken with them he secured the exclusive rights and commanded Pou to kill anybody who tried to enter his cucumber fields ... Read more about Banteay Samre .
The low-lying sandstone plateau of Phnom Kulen is 40 kilometres away from Siem Reap and the main Angkor Archaeological Park, taking around two hours by car or van. Sprinkled with many hard to reach crumbling ruins, the intrepid traveller can reach the less visited sites by moto. However, the key attractions are all easily accessible by road, which winds its way up to the top with some impressive ... Read more about Phnom Kulen .
Up amid the jungle on the Kulen Mountain Plateau lies Kbal Spean, not a temple but a natural bridge which lends its name to the river it crosses and the Angkorian site found here, where sacred linga are carved deep into the bedrock riverbed. The linga — a phallic symbol of fertility representing Hindu god Shiva — along with Hindu deities are blessed by the water flowing across them, which ... Read more about Kbal Spean .
With a similar overgrown feel to Ta Phrom, the atmosphere at Beng Mealea (which means Lotus Pond) is like no other — don’t be surprised to see Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones on site. Badly ruined in places, an elevated wooden walkway has been built throughout the crumbled central sanctuary which makes it more accessible and also allows for some rather unusual elevated views you wouldn’t ... Read more about Beng Mealea .
A remote, very rarely visited but atmospheric site quite unlike any of the other temples in the Angkor area, Chau Say Vibol (also Chau Srei Vibol) must have been a large, imposing and important site in its day. Now it's a a total ruin. The fact that it was clearly a strategic point, guarding the approaches to Angkor as well as the roads to Beng Mealea and Koh Ker, along with its fortress-like ... Read more about Chau Say Vibol .
A hill top temple with the same layout as Phnom Bok, also built by Yashovarman I, Phnom Krom’s temple may be less spectacular today due to its more ruinous state, but the vantage point overlooking the Tonle Sap Lake provides a good reason to ... Read more about Phnom Krom .
After Phnom Krom and Phnom Bakheng, Phnom Bok is the third of Yasovarman I’s hilltop efforts from the early 10th century. Once used as a strategic military post, Phnom Bok sits at the summit of the highest hill near to Angkor. At well over 200 metres high, this is considerably higher than Phnom Krom (140 metres) and Phnom Bakheng (a mere 70 metres). It makes for a wonderful change to the ... Read more about Phnom Bok .
The Roluos group of temples consists of Bakong, Preah Ko, Lolei and Prei Monti, making for an easy half-day tour from Siem Reap either in the morning or afternoon. The remnants of the first Angkorian capital, Hariharalaya, the temples are found near the contemporary town of Roluos which lends the group its name ... Read more about Roluos Group .
The highlight of the Roluos group of temples, those who come to Bakong are rewarded with sweeping views from a stunning temple complex surrounded by a peaceful ... Read more about Bakong .
Preah Ko — The Sacred Bull — is one of a handful of sites that make up the Roluos group of temples, moments from impressive Bakong. What remains of it today are six small brick towers in two rows of three, sitting on a sandstone base along with a handful of outlying buildings in various state of ruins; it was home to one of the first libraries built during the Angkor era. Each tower is ... Read more about Preah Ko .
Lolei is a small temple worth stopping by briefly if you’re visiting Bakong and Preah Ko – the main temples in the Roluos group – for a half-day tour from Siem ... Read more about Lolei .
Although Wat Athvea isn’t located in the central area of the Angkor Archaelogical Park, lying just outside Siem Reap town in the direction of Chong Kneas floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake, it is still part of the Angkor site and an Angkor pass is required to visit; Apsara Guards are usually on site checking ... Read more about Wat Athvea .
Angkor Gondola, also known as Kongkear boats, offers a serene boat ride on the calm moat of Angkor Thom. An attractive backdrop is provided by the laterite walls of this ancient city which creates a photogenic and memorable setting for a gentle cruise, lasting around 40 minutes as you drift between the South and West ... Read more about Angkor Gondola .
UPDATE: Here’s the Phnom Penh Post ... Read more about Balloon flights over Angkor .
With more than two million visitors a year flocking to Angkor – a number increasing annually – savvy visitors looking to avoid the crowds here quickly realise that what makes the difference between a packed-out temple versus a people-free one comes down to a combination of the right timings and the right sites. It is all too easy to get caught up focusing on Angkor Wat alone and forget the ... Read more about How to avoid the crowds at Angkor .
Acrophobics may not appreciate the liberating adventure of hurling themselves from the treetops along zip lines and canopy walkways – but everyone else ... Read more about Flight of the Gibbon .
Dougald O'Reilly is an archaeologist and the founder and director of Heritage Watch, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of Southeast Asia's cultural heritage. We chatted with Dougald by e-mail in a conversation that traversed looting, antiquities trafficking, Cambodia's struggle to preserve its history and, well, he did mention Tomb Raider ... Read more about Watching out for the future of Cambodia's past .
It’s a common question: Can you recommend a good guide for Angkor Wat? While everyone has their personal favourite when it comes to a real live guide for Angkor Wat, a relative newcomer to the tablet scene allows you to research beforehand and adds plenty of extra detail that even your living, breathing guide may not be familiar with. Meet An Interactive Guide to Angkor by Dougald ... Read more about Review: An Interactive Guide to Angkor .
With ever-increasing visitor numbers, Angkor is well established on the tourist map. Now, for the first time, it is also firmly on ... Read more about Google launches Street View images of Angkor .
For years, a rusty, rutted, oftentimes impassable track linked Poipet and Siem Reap, the bane of farmers and tourists alike. Efforts at construction, then re-construction then more re-construction were made, half-hearted and soon thwarted by the elements. If you listened to rumours, they’d tell you that it was all to protect the monopoly one airline held over the route between Bangkok and Siem ... Read more about The open road to Banteay Chhmar .
Small, pink hued and featuring the most exquisite and detailed carvings, Banteay Srey is considered by many to be one of the loveliest of all the Angkorian temples. Just under 40 kilometres from Siem Reap, the ‘Citadel of the Women’ was beautifully restored by French archaeologists who described it as a “precious gem” and a “jewel in Khmer art”. It is certainly worth the trip, and ... Read more about Banteay Srey day trip from Siem Reap .
If even after Angkor, you think you might have room for one or two temples more but don’t quite have the cash to cover it, despair not. Within reasonably short distances of Siem Reap it’s still possible to find temples that are easy to access and not subject to a charge for ... Read more about Siem Reap temples to visit for free .
Preah Khan has lived long in the shadow of its older sister, Ta Prohm. But as the hordes pore over the broken paths and scaffolding of the older temple, the very fact that Preah Khan is so often overlooked has become an integral part of its attraction. You are freer to explore here, without rubbing elbows with busloads of clicking, chattering tourists. But Preah Khan is more than a quieter, more ... Read more about Avoid the crowds at Ta Prohm: go to Preah Khan .
More than two million people will come to Cambodia before this year is out, and it’s a number that’s projected to keep rising as the years roll on. The government is preparing for six million visitors in 2015 and, since most of them will presumably still be coming primarily to visit the temples, it’s going to start getting seriously (even more) crowded around there indeed, especially at the ... Read more about Quieter Angkor temples .
If you wander into Monument Book Store on the riverside to the south of Old Market, you’ll discover, among many others, about half a dozen shelves piled high with guidebooks to Angkor. You may then spend several good hours puzzling over which one to get. Now, most of your problems have been solved with the recent publication of one single book, and I’ll get to that shortly. First though, ... Read more about Guidebooks to Angkor .