If you’re spending any time in Cambodia, Angkor Wat is a must-see attraction. The largest of the temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park, it is also believed to be the largest religious structure in the world. For hundreds of years, visitors from all around the world have been awed by it’s stunning design.
- Symbols, Motifs & Characters – In this large Hindu temple, you will find all sorts of carvings of spiritual characters. There are thousands of carvings carefully etched into walls, representing spiritual beliefs and certain eras of the Angkor Wat history.
- The Harmony of the Architecture – The architecture of Angkor Wat is widely praised. Comparisons are often made to the architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome.
- The Army of Suryavarman II – The western section of the south gallery depicts the great army of Suryavarman II. You’ll see Suryavarman himself riding an elephant and wielding a mighty battle axe.
- The Elephant Gate – The elephant gate is just what it sounds like: a gate so large that the kings of Khmer would use to mount and dismount elephants directly from the gallery.
- The Battle of Gods and the Demons – This amazing gallery depicts the battle between the 21 gods and various demons in Hindu tradition. The gods are featured with their traditional attributes (including four-armed Vishnu).
- Personal Tour Guides – Local guides will come up to you offering their services and knowledge of Angkor Wat. They will walk you through the entire temple, giving insights on the history, traditions and carvings on the temple walls. Like everything in Cambodia, you can negotiate the price.
- Literature & Guide Books – Locals sell guide books at the entrance or inside Ankor Wat.
- Shops – There are shops inside selling souvenirs, t-shirts and artworks.
- Arrive Early – There are few things more spectacular than witnessing a sunrise from Angkor Wat. Sunset is pretty spectacular too!
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- Tuk Tuks (recommeded) – For $6-$12 a day, you can get a driver to take you around the Angkor temples. These can be arranged at most hotels or you can negotiate with drivers on the streets who are normally even cheaper. Cambodian people are generally very caring and offer whatever they can. They can recommend temples to cover during a day and will patiently wait for you outside each temple, before moving onto the next attraction.
- Bicycles – Renting a bicycle is an excellent way to explore Angkor Wat (but make sure you’re reasonably fit). The best place to rent a bike is at Siem Reap, which is about 6km away from Angkor Wat. It only costs $1 per day in most places.
- Tour Buses – This is the most expensive transport option ($25-$75 per day) but it is a good one if you want a guided, air-conditioned tour of Angkor Wat.
|Construction on Angkor Wat began during the reign of the Khmer King Suryavarman II (ruled 1113-1150). Suryavarman II ruled and impressive empire that dominated modern day Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.Angkor Wat was built as the king’s state temple and capital city. This impressive temple is larger than any cathedral built in Europe. Unfortunately, the temple was not finished at the time of Suryavarman’s death, and was sacked by the enemies of Khmer 27 years after his death.While initially constructed as a Hindu temple, by the 13th century it was converted to Theravada Buddhist use. While Hindu elements remain, it is primarily used as a Buddhist temple to this day.During the 16th century, the first Europeans arrived in Cambodia. The few explorers and monks who made it to Angkor were struck by the beauty of the temple. When the French conquered Cambodia in the 19th century, Angkor Wat became a proud possession of the French Empire.Angkor Wat survived the many wars of the 20th century in Cambodia, including the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge. Today it is a popular tourist destination for Cambodians and foreigners. Its cultural significance to Cambodia is clear on the Cambodian flag, which prominently features Angkor Wat.|
- Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world.
- There were riots in 2003 when a false rumor from a Thai soap opera actress claimed that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand. Needless to say, Angkor Wat is highly valued by Cambodians.
- Angkor Wat is visited by almost 700,000 tourists per year.
- UNESCO lists Angkor Wat as a World Heritage Site.