Over the last 10 years, Cambodia has soared in popularity and more travellers than ever before, are venturing far and wide, to experience this wonderful country for themselves. No trip to Cambodia would be complete, without visiting the iconic area of Siem Reap. Famed for its fascinating history and ruins, here are 5 spectacular must visit temples in Siem Reap.
Temple of Bayon
Dating back to the 12th century is the charming Khmer temple of Bayon. From afar, Bayon may appear similar to its neighbouring peers, but up close, you’ll notice one very distinctive feature – the stone towers all have smiling faces carved into them!
Dubbed as the “Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia”, exploring Bayon will leave you hankering to know more about its history and the meaning behind the smiling faces.
Ta Prohm became famous back in 2002 after featuring in Angelina Jolie’s Blockbuster Film,”Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”. Fame aside, Ta Prohm is spectacular in it’s own right, and owes its individuality down to tree roots which engulf a large proportion of the temple. This is one temple in Siem Reap which really does have to be seen, to be believed
The best time to visit is first thing in the morning, after the sunrise. This is one of the most popular temples in Siem Reap so, the earlier you arrive the better.
No visit to Siem Reap would be complete, without visiting the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat. Originally constructed as a Hindu temple of God, Angkor Wat was transformed into a Buddhist temple in the late 12th century.
The sheer size and complexity of the grounds will leave you speechless and watching the sunrise from Angkor Wat is also a pretty special experience. Do however be prepared for the crowds. Sunrise aside, the best time to visit Angkor Wat is the hottest part of the day, at around 3pm. I know, 37C is not pleasant but your camera will thank you for it as no one will be photo-bombing your pictures 😉.
Banteay Srei is one of the smaller temples in Siem Reap, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in stature. Cut largely from red sandstone and brick, Banteay Srei which dates as far back as AD 967, is adorned with some of the most intricate motifs you’ll ever see on a temple.
It’s no surprise that Banteay Srei is considered by many to be a jewel in the crown. The sheer work that has gone into producing these beautiful stone carvings is clear to see, which is why, this is one temple not to be missed!
Neak Pean is again unique in its own right and is a tiny island temple surrounded by water. You can’t physically touch or stand on the temple but, you can cross a beautiful walkway, over the river to reach Neak Pean.
Neak Pean was originally constructed for medicinal purposes and it’s name derives from the sculptures of snakes which run around the base of the temple structure. There are four connected pools, which represent Earth, Fire, Wind and Water and the waters are said by many to have healing properties.
Have you visited any temples in Siem Reap before or are you thinking of visiting?
Maggie O xox