CAMBODIA (P2: Angkor temples)
Angkor Thom was built in the late 12th to early 13th century during Jayavarman VII reign and it is a Buddhism temple. Angkor Thom is a 3 km square walled and moated royal city and was the last capital of the Angkorian empire. Angkor Thom has 5 entrances to it, with the south gate being very popular with the tourists before they head towards Bayon, which was the state temple of the city. Angkor Thom is a must to all Angkor tour itineraries.
Angkor Wat was built in the early to mid 12th century. Suryavarman II constructed Angkor Wat into a huge temple like mountain with 5 huge towers, which can be seen from afar and was dedicated to the Hindu God and Vishnu. Angkor Wat is the main temple on most visitors’ list and gets very crowded in early mornings and late afternoons. Angkor Wat temple is one of the most photographed temples of Angkor. Angkor Wat is the most famous Angkor temple so it is a must for your Angkor tour itinerary.
Banteay Samre was built in the mid 12th century and it is about 3km off the main temple area. It is not a high temple, but some of the carvings are in excellent condition. Well worth adding to your Angkor tour if time permits.
Banteay Prei was built in the late 12th to early 13th century and it is a temple which receives a small amount of visitors, but the Apsara and lintel carvings are in quite good condition. This is a smaller Angkor temple but if you are really interested in the architecture then is worth adding to your Angkor tour itinerary.
Banteay Srey was built in the late 10th century and was dedicated to the Hindu God. Banteay Srey basically means “citadel of the women” and Banteay Srey has some of the best carvings of all the temples. Banteay Srey is best seen in the early mornings or late afternoons if you want to take some good pictures. Banteay Srey closes earlier than the other temples around 5:00pm. We strongly recommend you add Banteay Srey to your Angkor tours.
Beng Mealea was built in the early 11th century and was dedicated to the Hindu God. Beng Mealea was built in a similar style as Angkor Wat and, although the carvings here are not so good, many tourists like to visit it because of been overgrown by trees and other vegetation. The admission for Beng Mealea is separate from the main temples admission and it costs US$5 per person to enter. This is one of our favourite Angkor temples so we would well recommend you add it to your Angkor tours.
East Mebon was built in the late 10th century on an island in the middle of the East Baray and it was dedicated to Shiva in honour of the King’s parents. Although East Mebon is a nice Angkor Temple, we would recommend you only add this to your Angkor tour itinerary if you have plenty time in Siem Reap.
Kbal Spean was built between the 11th and 13th centuries. Kbal Spean is around 55km from Siem Reap and most people go there to see the impressive 1,000 lingas, which are carved into the river bed. You not able to enter Kbal Spean after 3:00pm. The road to Kbal Spean is in good condition now, and a trip takes around an hour and half tuk tuk and just over an hour by car. You can combine Kbal Spean with Banteay Sreay and Banteay Samre. You need the normal temple admission ticket to enter Kbal Spean. Kbal Spean is well worth adding to your Angkor tour itinerary especially during the wetter months of the year.
Năm 1050, vua Suryavarman I ngăn con suối Stung Kbal Spean trên đỉnh núi để thực hiện bức tranh điêu khắc đá dưới nước với hàng ngàn tượng về Linga, Yoni (miêu tả bộ phận sinh dục của nam và nữ) được tạc thẳng vào nền đá cùng với hàng ngàn bức phù điêu chạm trổ rất tinh vi về các tượng thần Deva, tiên nữ Apsara. Tại thượng nguồn dòng suối, có nhiều phiến đá khổng lồ chạm trổ nữ thần sắc đẹp Laksmi vô cùng sống động. Phải mất hơn 100 năm, công việc này mới được hoàn thành. Người dân Khmer gọi đây là dòng sông ngàn Linga. Đến giờ người ta vẫn chưa thể trả lời được người xưa đã làm như thế nào để có thể thực hiện công trình này và tạc tượng dưới dòng suối này được.
Người ta cho rằng, nếu cho trẻ em tắm suối này, trẻ em sẽ rất mau lớn và khỏe mạnh, thông minh. Vào mùa lễ hội, hàng ngàn trẻ em Khmer được bố mẹ cho tắm dưới dòng suối này, với cầu mong con cháu họ sẽ khỏe mạnh.
Koh Ker was once the capital of the Khmer Empire. Koh Ker is a large complex located around 110km from Siem Reap. However, due to its location not many tourists make the journey to this distant Angkor temple. If you are real enthusiast then we would recommend making the effort to go out to Koh Ker as it has some very impressive Prasats.
Kulen Mountain is a huge plateau which is around 70km from Siem Reap town. Kulen Mountain is a main attraction to many Cambodians as it is probably the most sacred mountain in Cambodia in the eyes of many Cambodians and it is often used as a place of pilgrimage during the weekend and public holidays. There is small Wat at the bottom of the mountain where there is a large reclining Buddha carved from sandstone. Nearby there is a nice waterfall especially during the rainy season and there a bathing pools which have carvings in the riverbed of a number of Lingas. Kulen Mountain gets very busy at the weekend with Cambodians, but it is a fun place to go. The trip takes a while and you will need to go by taxi or mini bus as the road conditions are not that good plus you also have to get up the mountain which a tuk tuk will struggle to do. The entrance fee is US$20.
Cụm đồi Kulen thuộc địa phận các huyện Svay Leu và Varin, tỉnh Siêm Riệp, cách trung tâm thành phố Siêm Riệp 50 km. Đường lên Kulen hiểm trở nhưng khá tốt vì được nâng cấp. Từ trên đỉnh đồi Mahendra, du khách có thể ngắm nhìn toàn thể công viên Angkor từ trên cao. Từ đỉnh núi có dòng suối Kbal Spean trong veo được xem là nơi phát nguồn của dòng sông Siem Reap. Trên đồi Mahendra, Jayavarman II đã tuyên bố nền độc lập của vương quốc Khmer và chọn nơi đây làm kinh đô đầu tiên.
Cùng với số phận của Angkor, kinh đô này từng một thời gian bị quên lãng giữa rừng núi âm u. Năm 1968, một nhà thám hiểm người Pháp đã phát hiện ra Kulen. Chiến tranh triền miên và vào năm 1980-1990, Kulen trở thành căn cứ địa của Khmer Đỏ. Con đường dẫn lên núi Kulen đầy mìn, rừng rậm âm u và rất nguy hiểm. Mãi đến năm 2000, người ta khai phá một con đường dẫn lên núi, và con đường này trở thành con đường hành hương về nguồn của người Khmer.
Cả khu rừng Kulen có tất cả 37 ngôi đền, chùa cổ có tuổi đời hàng ngàn năm, nhưng đặc biệt nhất vẫn là chùa Paang Thom, nơi đây ngoài bức tượng Phật được tạc thẳng vào núi đá, phần thân tượng dài 9,7m, cao 3,3m.
Neak Pean was built in the late 12th century. Neak Pean is best visited in the wet seasons as the pools that surround it are full of water, so are ideal for taking pictures. We would recommend adding this Angkor temple.
Phimeanakas was built in the late 10th and early 11th century. The carvings here are not very good, but it is the tallest temple which you can climb in Angkor Thom, so well worth climbing just for the views at the top.
Phnom Bakheng was built in late 9th and early 10th century. Phnom Bakheng is located on a hillside accessible by a steep climb or by elephant up a path. Phnom Bakheng is extremely busy around 5:00pm, because all of the tour groups and other tourists scramble to the top to see the sunset from it. There are good views of Tonle Sap Lake and you can also see Angkor Wat in the distance. Phnom Bakheng is also know as Bakheng mountain and this is one of the most popular places for taking photographs of the sunset. Phnom Bakheng is on most people’s Angkor tours itinerary.
Phnom Krom was built in the late 9th and early 10th century. The 3 towered temples are in poor condition, but the view from the top is good one of the Tonle Sap Lake and countryside. If you are going to visit one of the floating villages, then you can see this at the same time as it is out towards the lake. Phnom Krom is a nice place to take photographs of the lake.
Prasat Suor Prat were built in the early 13th century and they are 12 more or less identical towers which are more or less opposite the Terrace of Elephants. They are not much to look at close up, but are picturesque from the Terrace of Elephant and make some nice photo shots.
Pre Rup was built in the late 10th century. Pre Rup is a temple with some nicely carved doors and from the top of the temple there is a great view of the surrounding area. Pre Rup is another Angkor temple which is great for seeing sunset plus you get some great photographs from this temple at most times of the day.
Preah Khan was built in the late 12th century. Preah Khan is a huge complex with many carvings and passages and this is a temple well worth seeing. Preah Khan is a one of the nicest Angkor temples of on the Grand tour and it is best photographed in the early mornings or late afternoons. We recommend Preah Khan is included in one of your Angkor tours.
Roluos Group: Bakong is the main Angkor temple of the Roluos group and it was built in the late 9th century by Indravarman I, dedicated to the Hindu God. Bakong is the most impressive Angkor temples of the Roluos group, but other nice temples include Preah Ko which was the first Angkor temple to be built in the Roluos group and Lo Lei which was built in the middle of a Baray. The Roluos Group is about 13km from Siem Reap heading south towards Phnom Penh. The Roluos group temples are best photographed in the late afternoons.
Srah Srang was built in the mid 10th and late 12th century. Srah Srang is in poor condition on an island in the Baray, but it is an alternative place to see sunrise other than Angkor Wat. Sras Srang is a great place for early morning photos.
Ta Keo was built in the late 10th and early 11th century. Ta Keo is a plain towering temple which is well worth a visit if you have plenty of time, but there are very little carvings too see here.
Ta Prohm was built in the mid 12th and early 13th century. Ta Prohm should be near the top of every visitor’s list as it is a large complex with passages and open plazas and it is also the temple where many people want to get the photo with the trees growing out of the walls. Ta Prohm is a must for all Angkor temple tour itineraries and it is one of the best places to get some great photos.
Ta Som is a very nice Angkor temple on the Grand tour circuit and the best time take photographs of this temple is around 10:00am in the morning.
The Terrace of Elephants was built in the late 12th century. The Terrace of Elephants is on everyone’s itinerary, because it is a over a 2 meter wall with Elephants and Garudas carved in to the wall. It is best photographed in the mornings because of the light.
Terrace of the Leper King
Terrace of the Leper King was built in the late 12th century. Terrace of the Leper King is next the Terrace of Elephants which have carvings of Demons and Nagas, but the carvings are not as good as the carvings in the terrace of Elephants. The Terrace of Leper Kings is part of the Angkor Mini tour.
Thommanon was built in the late 11th century. Thommanon is only a small temple, but it is very good condition and it is well worth a visit, especially for photos during the wet season.
Wat Athvea was built in the late 11th century. Wat Athvea is not in the main temple area but around 8km south of Siem Reap and is a quite a good place to see the sunset.
West Mebon was built in the late 11th century. West Mebon are basically ruins on an island on the West Baray where it once stood. You can visit West Mebon by boat on a visit to the West Baray.