A jungle empire! Angkor in Cambodia is a must-see!

This place is just as amazing as it is cracked up to be – definitely a top 5 site in the world! A lost city found in the jungle, that turned out to be a huge empire. Where the banyan tress still claim most of the area and the monkeys roam free. It is just like you are Lara Croft!

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My husband and I went in January 2004 as part of a 3-month long journey through Asia. We just stayed at backpacker hostel in Siem Reap and went to the complex for two days in a row. We could easily have spent more time…

We took a tuk-tuk out to the temple complex, where we rented bikes. This was a nice calm way to get around and you will not have a chance to see it all with some means of transportation. A 3-day pass was 40 US Dollars.

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Me biking through one of the gates

Angkor is the largest religious monument in the world and Angkor Wat is a 7th wonder of the world! At one point 1.000.000 people lived there! The entire site is called Angkor; Wat means temple in Khmer language. Angkor Wat is the largest and best preserved temple and was built in the first half of the 12th century (113-5BC). The construction of the complex is estimated to 30 years and it was built by King Suryavarman II, dedicated to Vishnu. The overall profile is suppose to look like a lotus flower!

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Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is a funeral site for the Khmer king. It is a miniature replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world. The central tower rises from the center of the monument symbolizing the mythical mountain, Meru, situated at the center of the universe. Its five towers is the peaks and the outer wall symbolizes the mountains at the edge of the world, and the surrounding moat the oceans beyond.


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Detail of Angkor Wat – Apsara is apparently a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.

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Angkor Wat. The stairs are so steep so you have to crawl. This is the point – humility before the gods!

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The temples are cared for by Buddhist Monks

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Detail of the very fine Angkor Wat carving

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Angkor Thom is another major temple complex with Angkor. Angkor Thom means “Great City” and served as the last capital of the Khmer Empire enclosing residences of priest, officials of the palace and military, as well as buildings for administering the kingdom.

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Prasat Bayon

The most photographed temple is Prasat Bayon- the one with the many faces. Bayon was built in late 12th century to early 13th century, by the King Jayavarman VII, dedicated to Buddhist. Over 2000 large faces carved on the 54 towers.

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Faces at Bayon

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Lion (I guess) close to Bayon

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The Prasat Ta Prohm Temple is one of the most atmospheric ones. This is the one were “Tomb Raider” and Angeline Jolie were filmed. It is so fantastic, because it is still partly taken over by the jungle. The banyan trees grow in and over the ruins and shows the state that the early archaeologists found many of the the buildings.


Ta Prohm


Ta Prohm

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Angkor Wat in the setting sun

Do you think Angkor is top 5 site in the world?