I hope you like temples! We have definitely arrived at the part of the trip that is temples, temples, and more temples! Temples in Siem Reap, temples in Bagan, temples in India – the next few weeks are filled with temples!
The Angkor Wat Archaeological Park has a ton of temples that aren’t just Angkor Wat. And to be honest – some of them are much more fun! Each has its own personality, which is fun to see in such a small amount of land area. And, each has a ton of photo ops, so get ready for a lot of pictures in this post!
Outside of Angkor Wat, the most well-know temple in the complex is Ta Prohm – and it’s well-know for one small portion: where they filmed sections of Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie.
The whole temple has essentially been left to the elements – it’s such a clear visual of how ephemeral even the most solid things are on this planet. This once-majestic, giant temple, is now largely heaps of stones that have been broken up by the giant trees growing through and around them. It’s now a different kind of majestic.
I love the moss growing everywhere and seeing how the jungle has reclaimed its own. The broken bits and blocks laying every which way make it feel much more like you’re discovering something. The whole temple makes it easy to see why they’d put a movie like Tomb Raider there.
The trees are the most giant I have ever seen – just the roots growing are many times bigger than me, and then the trees are so high!
Angkor Thom and Bayon
Angkor Thom is another well-known complex within Angkor Wat – it was constructed a bit later and is actually quite a bit larger. The main temple is a bit different and smaller than Angkor Wat. However, there are more smaller temples within the walls of the complex.
Angkor Thom is well-known by the gates to get into the complex – there are statues guarding the gate, and then the gate itself is giant!
The main temple within Angkor Thom is called Bayon, and it’s known as the “temple of faces” – there are giant faces carved in every direction and in many places around the temple!
This temple is one on the grand loop, and can frequently be missed by people trying to see Angkor Wat in a day. I loved Preah Khan! It was pretty empty compared to those on the main loop, so it was fun to look around.
It also had a ton of super detailed carvings that were so cool!
Neak Pean was a smaller temple that was set on an island. It was cool to get there because you have to pass over quite a long bridge, and the views of the water are gorgeous! Then you go through a bit of forest and you’re at Neak Pean.
Pre Rup reminded me so much of Ollantaytambo in Peru! It was also built like a fortress that was quite high off the ground (with quite a few steps…), and the color of the stone felt similar.
This was the last temple I went to on the second day of touring, so I was so tired and hot when I got there! I got so few pictures, mainly because I sat down in the shade and then was joined by a few other tourists who were also hot and tired. It was cool to meet them! We ended up all just enjoying the shade for a good while, and then I decided to go. It was a cool temple, but by that point, I was just templed-out!
Banteay Kdei was another pretty-giant temple! I honestly didn’t pick up the history of it – I just enjoyed the buildings and the carvings.
And those were the other temples I went to! It was quite the three-days of exploration. Cambodia is crazy hot in the summer!