Why Siem Reap
- The largest religious monument in the world
- An Architectural Masterpiece
- Spectacular Hindu symbolism
- Rich cultural heritage
- The classical style of Khmer
Angkor Wat Grand Circuit
To make your trip to Angkor Wat the most unforgettable, you have to complete your trip with Angkor Wat grand circuit. You can check out more temples that are highlighted in the green circuit as they are part of the larger grand circuit. You can have a look here at Angkor Wat Circuit Map . The red circuit is only the small circuit tour that I had included in my previous post. If you wish to read about it, click here. 😊
Preah Khan is one of the most significant buildings erected during the ancient Khmer empire.
Sadly, it was a dry season during my visit, I did not find it surrounded by a moat.
A long walkway and a couple of lions standing guard were found at one of the entrances which the King used to embark a boat to the Neak Pean temple.
This temple allowed me to wander around at the narrow corridors, courtyards and hidden chambers, therefore I think you should plan at least two hours to cross the temple from west to east to make sure you will not miss every beautiful corner here.
Since it is largely unrestored with trees growing through the structure, it becomes a great photography spot. The colors on its wall are unique as a mixture of green, black, red, and purple were painted on the wall.
Around the temple, we found many well-preserved carving and also large guardians at the entrance of the temples. There were also huge sections of grassland, massive trees around and on top of the buildings. Nature plays a big role here and turns this temple to an amazing place to explore.
The stupa at the central sanctuary, a linga with its yoni, the hall of dancers, the biggest strangler fig growing on a wall, the 2-story pavilion, the baray on the east, Gopura with giant stone guardians, the hidden Devata, the house of fire are the highlights of Preah Khan.
Many has been to this place at its beautiful time when the whole area is surrounded and reflected by pools of water. A wooden bridge leads to the temple, beautiful lotuses on both sides of the pathway, making it exactly like a water temple. It is no doubt that Neak Pean has its best view and it is most photogenic in the wet season.
Unfortunately, I did not get to see any of these during my visit.
Even though I visited Neak Pean in the dry season, only dry woods, dirty waters, poor animals to be found here, this place is still beautiful. I did not think it was boring to explore. I would rather say it was very interesting since I had a chance to see the different sides of this place.
Neak Pean means “the entwined snakes”. The temple itself stands in the middle of the pond. This central pond is surrounded by four smaller pools that represent fire, water, earth, and wind. In the past, people believed that water played an important role because it had the power of healing.
Ta Som is a medium-sized temple with no upper floors or rooms. Everythings are on the ground level and the central shrine is surrounded by enclosure walls. It was inspired by the style of Bayon but it is smaller. It is also one of Cambodia’s face tower monuments.
Although some of the carvings were destroyed back in the days, they were well restored in the temple throughout many centuries. During the restoration works, some decorations were brought up again after centuries of burying under the ground.
If you are lovers of ancient Khmer art, you must visit Ta Som as the decorations, carvings, and the art atmosphere here is remarkable.
Like Ta Prohm, it is also famous for its strangler fig. It is at the eastern face tower which offers a chance for great pictures. It is making the entrance almost like a stone-cracking tree. However, if you look closely, you will find faces at the eastern and western gates of Ta Som.
If you think Ta Prohm is overly rated due to the movie “Tomb Raider”, it is almost impossible to take a nice picture there as there are too many tourists. Then this place is perfect for you.
The strangler fig stands upright, but it is no longer alive. It does not grow anymore, that is why I guess it will fall anytime soon. So if you want to visit this dramatic sight, hurry on and visit the spectacular tree while it is still standing upright on the monument.
Tips » Unlike most of the other temples which they are best to visit in the early morning and late evening, Ta Som is an exception! The beautiful carvings and the dramatic strangler fig entrance, they will be hiding in the shadow. Thus, visiting Ta Som between 9 am to 12 pm (early noon) will be the best time.
Pre Rup is a mountain temple that has its stepped stairs and pyramid structure. It used to be surrounded by moats as well. From far, we could already see three large towers standing right in the middle.
What to explore at Prae Roup?
- 6 large towers to the East
- Three stepped pyramid
- 5 Prangs on the upper platform
I think the highlight at Prae Roup is the 5 prangs on the upper platform.
The temple’s lowest level is surrounded by 12 shrines. We then passed through the three steep pyramids and found a stairway leaded to the upper platform with five towers, the staircase was guarded by lion statues on both sides. At the top, we found four towers forming a square with a fifth one at its center.
These five towers represent Shiva’s home – the sacred Mount Mehru.
Tips » Since the temple is built of bricks, the warm tones are best to see early in the morning or when the sun is setting. Therefore, the upper platform is also popular for its sunset view.
Few areas appeared to be unfinished, or it had been dismantled later until today no one knows. These unfinished towers are full of mysteries.
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES IN Siem Reap
Bantaey Srei – The pink temple
Banteay Srei is the first ever modern temple I found within the Angkor. 😍😍😍
It means “citadel of the women” or “citadel of the beauty”. Just like its name given, she was truly built as a beauty.
The temple was built by red sandstone that gives the temples a pinkish tone. Therefore, it has the nickname of the “pink” temple, “the Jewel of Khmer Art”, and “The Lady Temple”.
I found this place cute and lovely because of the buildings and structures are quite mini in size 😂. I felt like a giant queen back there. You will get mind blown by how elegant it is despite it is the smallest in size within the Angkor site.
Banteay Srei is also famous for its decorative wall carvings. It is the finest stone carvings to be found in the Angkor site and it is very well preserved.
In order to prevent further deterioration of this much-visited temple, the inner sanctuary has been closed.
Although Banteay Srei is not included in the Angkor Wat circuit. It is located in a remote area where there are no other monuments around. It is not too far away. If you check Angkor Wat Circuit Map , it is at the Northeast of Angkor Thom.
Every temple that I had visited in the kingdom of Angkor told different stories. Unlike Bayon and Angkor wat, which I felt gravity and mysterious, standing at Banteay Srei, I felt the power, elegance, and wealth. It was quite a different experience to many of my adventures in the other temples so far.
This is one of the temples that I remember most vividly.
You have to visit Banteay Srei.
Until here, if you have already found all these temples impressive, I am sure you will like the one I am going to introduce in my next post. But now, let me have my “Fika” and I will tell you next time 😉
— “Fika” means a coffee break in Swedish.
– Cambodia, June 2016 –