In the dense jungle of Cambodia, 200 miles north of the capital city
Phnom Penh, and about four miles from the town of Siem Reap, lies the
historic city of Angkor. It is a huge complex of more than 100 temples
dating back to the 9th century AD, which served as the capital of the
great Khmer Empire. Today it is hidden beneath a huge rainforest canopy,
and the glorious temples of yesteryears that have been ravaged by wars,
weather and looters.
What to do
Angkor is one of the greatest archaeological and architectural wonders
of the world. Once here, you can visit the 'temple mountain' monuments
of Angkor which will take you to a different realm altogether. The
complex spreads around an area of more than 400 sq km. One has to see to
believe the mystery and beauty of the temples. The most famous is the
huge and magnificent temple of Angkor Wat. Angkor is currently under the
jurisdiction of the UNESCO, but these magnificent monuments are open for
tourists to visit.
City at a Glance
Latitude 13?43' N
Longitude 103?9' E
Area 400 sq km
Language Khmer, French and English
Telephone Code 016 (Seam Reap)
The locals speak Khmer, French and English and the religion they follow
is Buddhism. One has to stay in nearby town of Siem Reap to visit the
The ruined city of Angkor was the ancient capital of the Great Khmer
Empire, which flourished from the ninth to fifteenth centuries AD. The
Khmer kingdom at Angkor was architecturally the most brilliant in the
whole of Southeast Asia. They had lived in the region for centuries and
were dominated by regional superpowers like the Javanese and Chinese. In
802 AD a young Khmer Prince, Jayavarman II, declared his independence
from Java and declared himself as the new King. He unified the Khmer
lands and established a belief that Khmers were the Gods incarnate and
identified himself with Hindu God Siva. Jayavarman and his successors
started the building of stone temples and expanding their territory. In
1177 AD, the Khmer capital was devastated by an attack by the Chams,
however the kingdom was restored subsequently. The Thais, who sacked
Angkor in 1353 AD, frequently attacked the Khmer kingdom. Continuous
warfare between the Khmers and the Thais forced the Khmers to leave
Angkor and move the capital to Phnom Penh. The glory of Angkor was over
by the end of the fifteenth century AD. After Angkor's desertion, the
jungle took over and in 1860 a French naturalist Henri Mouhot,
'discovered' the place again and made it famous. Till the 1960s it was a
popular spot for European Asians. The Civil war in 1970 and the takeover
by Khmer Rouge in 1975 made Angkor and surrounding Siem Reap a rebel
hotspot. Today the monuments are once again open to tourists.
Weather and Best Season to Visit
Cambodia has uniform climatic conditions throughout its territories. The
dry season is from October to April, it rains from May to September. The
best season to visit this place is from December to January.
The Angkor Wat
The magnificent Angkor Wat is the Khmer's most significant architectural
achievement. The temple complex, which took thirty years to complete,
covers 500 acres, is a gigantic representation of Mount Meru. It also
represents Hindu Cosmology. Five towers made of stylised lotuses rise
from the center, with the innermost tower rising to a height of 699
feet. The five central towers are enclosed by still more towers,
courtyards, and galleries. Angkor Wat is surrounded by a moat
representing the ocean surrounding the world.
outer galleries of the Wat, is the largest bas-relief sculpture in the
world. This sculpture depicts scenes from Hindu legends - the Ramayana
and Mahabharata, as well as depictions of heaven and hell.
The Angkor Thom
Jayavarman VII built this city called Angkor Thom with a 100 metre wide
moat extending 12 km. Within this one can admire the Bayon Temple, which
emerges form the jungle as a forest of heads. He also built a large
number of temples inside the city including Banteay Srei, Srah Srang,
Prah Khan, and Ta Phrom. Thse temples suddenly seem to appear from the
jungle giving them an eerie and a romantic quality. Unlike the others
these temples were not Hindu but Buddhist. The temple of Phimeanakas was
later enclosed within the Palace of Angkor Thom.
to the entrance gateways of Angkor Thom are further sculptural
representations of the Churning Of The Sea of Milk. A line of fifty-
four carved gods along one side and the same numbers of demons stand on
the other side of the walk.
Temple at Phnom Bakheng
The Phnom Bakheng Hill, only a short distance from Angkor Wat, was the
first 'temple mountain' at Angkor. According to Hindu mythology, the
temple mountain represents Mount Meru, the cosmic mountain and axis of
the universe. The temple originally had 109 towers but many of them are
missing now. The total number of levels in the structure totalled seven
representing the seven heavens of Hinduism.
This temple was the first to have been built with sandstone, surrounded
by a moat, the pyramid like structure rises to an impressive 200 feet.
This temple is an important milestone in Khmer history.
There are no glitzy shopping malls to speak of, except a few sprinkling
of souvenir shops in the Old Market, Siem Reap's main shopping centre.
Those interested can pick up high quality handicraft sandstone replicas
of the Angkor Wat Temples.
Where to Stay
The visitor has to stay in the nearby town of Siem Reap to access the
Angkor monuments. There are quite a few hotels located at the edge of
Siem Reap town like the Grand Hotel D' Angkor and some near the airport
like Angkor Hotel and City Angkor Hotel, which provide excellent five
star facilities. Ta Phrom Hotel, Angkor Village Hotel and Salina Hotel
are in the downtown area, which suit the average budget travellers.
Where to Eat
Eating options being less, one can try out the noodle stalls and
sandwich carts in the Old Market of Siem Reap that offer local
delicacies like steaming Cambodian noodles and pate-filled French
The visitor has to use the town of Siem Reap, the small town alongside
the still waters of the Siem Reap River, as a stopover to visit the
monuments of Angkor. The town comes alive with the flurry of activity
when tourists leave for the temples of Angkor or arrive from them in the
early mornings or evenings.
Air Travel Resources
Siam Reap is the nearest airport for Angkor and is well connected to
Phnom Penh and other nearby destinations. However Phnom Penh, being the
national capital has a better network of flights linking it with some of
the major cities around the world. Royal Air Cambodge, President
Airlines and Phnom Penh Airways operate their flights from these
Land And Water
National Road No 6 and National road No 5 can be used to reach Siem Reap
by road from Phnom Penh. Transportation on these routes is easily
available on both ends.
waterway along the Sap River and Tonle Sap Lake is popular nowadays and
is an option worth considering.
It is advisable to hire a local tourist guide from the Siem Reap Airport
who will bring the tourist around the whole of Angkor area. It is safe
to have a local guide who will function as a chauffer too. The guide's
car will take the tourist to all the places around Angkor.
Motorbikes for hire are available too, though it is advisable to take a
driver cum guide along.
Tourist Information Centre
Angkor Tourism Desk
Grand Hotel D'Angkor
Siem Reap, Seam Reap
Siem Reap Airport is 7 km west of town.
Tel: 380191, 380192
#362 Route 6
Cambodia Commercial Bank
South from Route 6
344 Krom, 7 Mondol
General Post Office
3 blocks South of Route 6
Next to Police Station
There are many pharmacies and medical labs in Siem Reap that provide
basic medical care facilities.
Information from: http://www.travelershub.com