This is a third installment of a 4-part blog post of our Laos and Cambodia trip. If you haven’t read a previous post, you may read it here [Exploring Laos and Cambodia (Part 2) — Vang Vieng to the Four Thousands Islands Region].

It was David’s and my second time in Siem Reap to visit Angkor Archeological Park. I had written a post about our first visit here. Despite having been here before, I was still looking forward to seeing the Angkor again. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Angkor Thom

The literal translation of Angkor Thom or Nokor Thom is the Great City. The ancient city of the Khmer Empire is located on the west bank of the Siem Reap River. Built some time in the late 12th century AD, Angkor Thom is thought to have been populated by up to 150,000 people. The city was abandoned some time prior to 1609. [Wikipedia]

The south gate of Angkor Thom
Visitors and a tour guide in front of Bayon Temple
The Bayon. Somehow I managed to snap this pictures without anyone in the frame.
Fascinating stone carving
A long causeway at Baphuon Temple
A visitor wearing a mask. During our visit, it wasn’t as hot, but any opportunity to be in the shade was always welcome.

Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm Temple is probably one of the most recognizable temples in the Angkor Archeological Park. It was used as a location in the film Tomb Raider, which was released in 2001. It is interesting to see how the restoration of the temple is being done to stabilize the ruins while preserving the presence of the trees that are actively overtaking the ruins.

The jungle temple of Ta Prohm
Even with the number of visitors to the temple, Ta Prohm had this eerie feel of being in an abandoned place.

Angkor Wat

Built in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. In my opinion, it rivals that of Ancient Greece and Rome. Add it to your bucket list of things to see.

A local kid in front of Angkor Wat. This is generally the first sight of Angkor Wat seen by visitors.
An impressive view of the central structure of the temple after walking through the outer wall
Inside Angkor Wat after entering pass the outer gallery
View of the ground of Angkor Wat seen from a walkway between the inner four towers

Banteay Srei

The temple of Banteay Srei was built in the 10th century. It features intricate red sandstone carvings that resembles carving in wood. Seeing it the second time didn’t make it any less mind-blowing. It’s one of the must-see sites in the Angkor Archeological Park.

Unlike other Khmer temples, the Banteay Srei temple is quite smaller in size.
Intricate relief carving of red sandstone. What a craftsmanship!
A figure inside the inner enclosure of the Banteay Srei
Carving of devatas on walls of Banteay Srei temple is thought to be the origin of its modern name, which means Citadel of Women.

Visited new sites

During our second visit to the Angkor Archeological Park, we visited several sites that we had seen before, like Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and its Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei. However, we also got an opportunity to visit three temples we haven’t visited in our first trip. There are always something new to see and they are equally amazing.

We had an early start of our day. By 8:30 am, we arrived at Preah Ko Temple.
But we were not the only one here. Some visitors had already arrived. Preah Ko Temple was built in the late 9th century, earlier than Angkor Wat. Unlike in other temples we had seen so far, Preah Ko Temple features plaster or stucco carvings. Stucco was first applied to the brick tower before being carved.
Next stop was another late 9th century Bakong Temple. The structure of Bakong is a stepped pyramid, similar to the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia.
Next is Banteay Samre Temple, built in the mid 12th century in the Angkor Wat style.
Workers at Banteay Samre Temple. Restoration of these sites is a never-ending task.
Greeted briefly by temple cats

It had been ten years since our first visit to Siem Reap. It was clear that the town has become even more popular with visitors. There are a lot of business popping up to serve the booming tourism. One thing we found we didn’t like was many relentless souvenir sellers in front of the archeological sites, which we didn’t see during our first time. Despite that, we found that Siem Reap town, even with the increasing number of tuk-tuk drivers and street vendors, managed to remain its gentle and charming vibe. Good to see.

Both of our trips to Siem Reap, we visited the town in February, which is a dry season and peak season for tourism. Our tour guide suggested that, to avoid crowds, we should consider visiting the Angkor in June or first half of July. Although there is some rain, it doesn’t rain all day. Not only it’s less busy, but it’s also not as hot. I have seen pictures of some of the temples in the rainy season, I think if we get a chance to come back again, I want to come in the rainy season.

4 thoughts

  1. The temples are so cool! i’m always amazed at how these places have stood the test of time, even though nature is trying to reclaim them as was the case in Ta Prohm! Hope to make it there someday!

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