Located in the northwest of Cambodia, Siem Reap is the gateway to the famous Angkor temples and the ancient world of the Khmer Empire. Our Temples at Leisure explores this UNESCO World Heritage Site, visiting the most remarkable temples in this Hindu-Buddhist temple complex.
Start the day with a private transfer to Ta Prohm, one of Angkor’s most popular temples thank to the combination of trees growing out of its ruins. The temple was built in 1186 by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Buddhist temple in honor of his family, its main image was modelled on the king’s mother. The temple today is overgrown and covered by silk-cotton and fig trees, giving a haunting yet exotic atmosphere.
Drive a short distance to Ta Keo, which is possibly the first to be built entirely of sandstone by Khmers. King Jayavarman V succeeded his father when he was ten years old, and began the construction of his own state temple when he was seventeen in 975. The works stopped when the king died in 1001, but it would have been one of the finest temples in Angkor had it been completed.
Continue to Angkor Thom, the capital of King Jayavarman VII's empire. Literally translates as “Great City”, Angkor Thom is an entire walled city covering an area of 9 km2 (3.5 mi2). The royal capital from 1181, the site includes several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by the king and his successors. The population of the city was about 1 million, far bigger than any city in Europe at the time. Located at the center of the city is Bayon Temple - King Jayavarman VII’s state temple, crowned with 216 giants, smiling faces of the king.
Also visit the Terrace of the Elephants, which was used by King Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army, and the Terrace of the Leper King. Both are homes of amazing Bas-relief carvings. Then return to your hotel to relax and have lunch.
After your leisurely break, your exploration continues while entering the rear gate of the Angkor Wat. Built in early 12th century by about 300,000 workers in 30 years, the temple is claimed to be the largest religious building in the world. The temple was built as the earthly representation of the universe with the central tower symbolizing Mount Meru, the sacred five-peaked mountain of Hindu and Buddhist cosmology and is considered to be the center of all the spiritual universes.
Return to your hotel in late afternoon.