In a new series of articles we look at what is here or literally on our doorstep that we have yet to do or see. To start,an absolute must: a visit to Angkor Wat. Why? Because it holds the Guinness World Record for the largest religious structure in the world and last year defeated Pompeii to become the eighth Wonder of the World. It also only takes one hour 10 minutes to fly to Siem Reap from Don Mueang airport to Siem Reap.
Sure, there are all the irritating immigration hoops you’ll need to jump through. Getting a reentry permit before you go to protect your visa, paying $30 dollars at the airport for your Cambodian visa stamp. Then frustratingly having to go back to immigration and present a TM30 when you return – but it’s all worth it. On recommendation of a friend, we decided to hire a Cambodian guide who picked us up early from our hotel to purchase a pass to cover all the temples we would be visiting. Then we set off to get our best spot for one of the most iconic experiences – witnessing sunrise over Angkor Wat.
Built in the 12th century by the Khmer King Suryavarman II, the sprawling temple complex wasn’t just a place of worship – it was the beating heart of a vast empire. Unfortunately by the 15th century Angkor Wat’s decline mirrored that of the empire itself as the jungle slowly reclaimed the once-thriving city. Yet, unlike many forgotten ruins, local people continued to revere the temple, leaving offerings and tending its grounds. So when in the 19th century, Western explorers stumbled upon the site, it sparked renewed interest and conservation efforts began.
Originally conceived as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, there are intricate carvings everywhere depicting celestial dancers, fearsome warriors, and mythical beasts from Hindu epics. Long galleries hold details of Kurukshetra battles with commanders riding horses, elephants and carriages. But as the Khmer Empire shifted toward Buddhism,the temple gradually adapted to include Buddhist iconography like the serene Buddhas that replaced former fierce temple guardians.
It is important to dress respectfully when you visit with no shoulders or knees shown. Especially if you wish to ascend the steps that the worshippers from a bygone era dared to build as a stairway to the heavens. From the top, there are some excellent views looking out at the silent, enduring grandeur of Angkor Wat , now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing millions of visitors each year.
Our guide and driver was Sokcheat Than Whatsapp +855 96 223 3213 Email: [email protected]