Must-See Temples at Angkor Wat
Dating back to the ninth century, the palaces and temples of Angkor Archeological Park served as capitals of the ancient Khmer empire for six centuries. Angkor Wat may be the most famous temple complex of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s certainly not the only one. Here are a few other temples you shouldn’t miss.
Angkor Wat Angkor Wat, located just north of Siem Reap, is one of the largest Khmer ruins in the region and the most recognizable landmark in Cambodia. Built by King Suryavarman II in the early 1100s, this Hindu temple was dedicated to Vishnu. Most visitors choose to come here either at sunrise or sunset when the light is at its most atmospheric.
Bayon This popular temple is known for the 216 enigmatic stone faces—believed to represent compassion—that are carved into its stone towers. Constructed during the late-12th and early-13th centuries, the small complex once served as the official state Buddhist temple for King Jayavarman VII.
Ta Prohm One of the best-known standalone temples of Angkor, Ta Prohm has been overtaken by strangler figs since it was abandoned centuries ago. The strange combination of man-made architecture and nature have made it one of the most popular stops in the park, especially since its appearance in the 2001 film Tomb Raider.
Ta Som This temple, also overtaken by roots, offers a quieter alternative to often busy Ta Prohm. The entrance alone, through a tree-encased doorway, is worth the visit. Don’t be surprised if you have this off-the-beaten-path temple mostly to yourself.
Banteay Srei Situated about 24 miles (38 kilometers) northeast of Siem Reap, Banteay Srei is a favorite among temple buffs for its fine collection of intricate stone carvings picked out of rose-pink sandstone. In fact, it was called “a jewel of Khmer art” by the archaeologists who uncovered it. Visit on your own or as part of a multi-day tour of the area’s many temples.