Angkor Wat, what is so special about it? Why you must absolutely visit it when you are in Cambodia? What to expect? And how to get a wonderful experience in exploring the temples?
I once dreamed of the princess Indradevi, the wife of the great King Jayavarman 7. She was trying to show me her famous city. I am not quite sure if it was Angkor Wat or Angkor Thom.
The Princess has been known as one of the most intelligent women in her period. She knew Sanskrit and composed a lot of poems to describe the King and her kingdom.
I am not a guide person but I will try to do the same in this blog post to introduce you a brief history of Angkor Wat and provide you the best practices to avoid the crowd and make yourself free while visiting the temples.
Let’s get started!
A brief History of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is a temple complex, located in Siem Reap province, northwest of Cambodia. Most of the temples in Siem Reap were built during the Angkor period where Khmer civilization reached the top of its glory. At that time, the Khmer Empire was the most powerful nation in the region.
Angkor Wat itself was built in 12th century by the King Suryavarman 2, dedicated to the god Vishnu. The temple was built on a very large scale, followed a precise master plan. The recherche suggests it has to be thousands of people working every day in the project.
According to history, it took almost 40 years to build such a “heaven on earth” temple.
It was a well-structured temple, built in the middle of the canal, had thousand of status embedded into the wall of the temple. You will learn a lot about history by just looking at the wall temples.
It tells many different stories and activities.
How Angkor Wat was built
Some say it was the god who built it. Some say it was all built by humans. It depends on what you believe.
It was a temple built by many bricks of stones, placed on ones to others. We still don’t know what they were using to stick from one stone to another. Despite some damage, the main structure of the temple is well maintained through thousands of years.
After you visit the temple, you might need to sit and spend some time to imagine how they possibly built such a great temple. You will leave the temple without finding any clear explanation.
National Geography has made a video to find out how Angkor Wat temple was built. I hope it could answer to some of your questions:
It is hard to explain the beauty of the temple by pen or in an article. You need to go and visit on your own eyes.
After you have a chance to visit the temple, you will be proud to tell people that you visited one of the greatest temples in the world.
Besides Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, there are a lot of interesting temples such as Ta Prohm (featured in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie), Banteay Srei and many other temples.
The Fall of Angkor
It is hard to believe that the Khmer empire ended right after it reached its top powerful country in the region.
Starting from the 15th century, the country started to lose its wars, lands, and territories to its neighbor countries: China, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Angkor city was abandoned and the new city was founded in Phnom Penh, the current capital of Cambodia.
Angkor Wat, later on, was discovered and promoted in the 19th century by a French naturalist named Henri Mouhot.
Angkor Wat now is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is restored and maintained to welcome tourists from all around the world.
Angkor Wat Travel Tips
1. Best time to visit Angkor Wat
Cambodia is a tropical country. It has 2 seasons: raining and dry. The best months to visit the temples would be from November to March. But keep in mind that this is the peak season for tourists as well.
Otherwise, you can visit Cambodia anytime. The hottest months of the year would be April and May. But if you wake up early and visit the temple before noon, that would be a great experience as well.
It is recommended at least to reserve 3 days to visit the important temples. You won’t be able to visit all the temples but you would have enough time to see the essential ones.
2. What to wear while visiting temples
The most recommended clothes to wear while visiting the temples are T-shirt and jean. It is not permitted to wear the sexy dresses at the temples. Pay your respect to the Cambodian tradition and culture. You will get the reward back from the local authorities and the Khmer people.
3. How to avoid the crowd
Visiting Angkor Wat is the top in the list of everyone. If you follow the flow, you will meet a lot of others tourists at every time you arrive.
The best tip to avoid the crowd is to wake up early. Put your alarm cloth at 04:30. You would arrive at the first temple at 5 am in the morning. Then you will be the first person to visit the temple.
Enjoy this freedom.
4. Best Transport in Siem Reap
If you know how to ride a motorcycle, it is the most recommended transport to visit the temples. You can rent the motorcycle from a lot of places in the city, including from your hotel.
If you don’t want to drive yourself, you can book a Tuk Tuk for a whole day. They will drive you to see the temples.
5. Best hotels to stay
There are a lot of best hotels in Siem Reap. You can find any type of facilities upon your preference. You can book a room at the hostel or a 5-star hotel.
Here are the hotels I recommend Top 10: best Hotels in Siem Reap.
6. Further reading about Angkor Wat
Below are the fiction and nonfiction books that will give you more information on Angkor Wat: