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Wednesday Getaway: Angkor Wat In Cambodia


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Kacey Sifuentes



Welcome to the mystical world of Angkor Wat, a destination that will transport you back in time to the glorious days of the Khmer Empire. Located in the heart of Cambodia, Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most significant archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. It stands as a testament to the incredible craftsmanship, ingenuity, and spirituality of the ancient Khmer civilization.


Angkor Wat is not just a single temple, but an entire complex of awe-inspiring structures, including numerous temples, shrines, and reservoirs. It is a place where history and mythology intertwine, where beauty and spirituality merge. The sheer scale and grandeur of this extraordinary site make it a must-visit for adventurers, history buffs, and wanderers seeking to unravel the mysteries of the past.


Stepping foot on the grounds of Angkor Wat is like entering a different realm. The air is filled with a sense of reverence and serenity, as if whispering the secrets of a bygone era. The ancient ruins, adorned with intricate carvings and towering spires, emerge from the lush jungle backdrop, creating a mesmerizing sight that will leave you spellbound.


Whether you are passionate about history, architecture, or spirituality, Angkor Wat has something to offer for everyone. It is a place that evokes a sense of wonder and curiosity, inviting you to embark on a captivating journey through time.


Join us as we delve into the enchanting world of Angkor Wat, unraveling its history, admiring its awe-inspiring architecture, and uncovering its deep religious significance. Get ready for an adventure like no other as we guide you through the sprawling temples, offer tips for visiting, and highlight the nearby attractions and activities that will complete your Angkor Wat experience.


History of Angkor Wat

The history of Angkor Wat is intricately connected with the rise and fall of the Khmer Empire. The empire, which flourished from the 9th to the 15th century, left behind a rich and fascinating legacy, with Angkor Wat serving as its crowning jewel.


Angkor Wat was commissioned by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. It was originally constructed as the state temple and the capital city of the empire, symbolizing the king’s divine right to rule and prosperity.


Over the centuries, Angkor Wat underwent various transformations as the region’s dominant religion shifted from Hinduism to Buddhism. The temple’s religious significance transformed alongside these changes, incorporating elements of both Hinduism and Buddhism into its architecture and iconography.


The decline of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century led to the abandonment of Angkor Wat. The complex was gradually reclaimed by the jungle, its magnificent structures hidden from the world for centuries. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the temple’s grandeur was rediscovered by French explorers, sparking renewed interest in the site.


Today, Angkor Wat stands as a testament to the Khmer Empire’s architectural prowess and cultural legacy. Its intricate carvings, elaborate bas-reliefs, and towering central towers showcase the empire’s devotion to art, religion, and power. The temple complex attracts millions of visitors each year, who flock to marvel at its harmonious blend of religious symbolism and architectural brilliance.


Exploring the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat is like deciphering a historical puzzle. Every wall, every sculpture, and every corridor holds a story waiting to be unveiled. It is a journey through time that offers incredible insights into the civilization that once thrived in this part of the world.


Join us as we delve deeper into the architectural wonders and iconic features of Angkor Wat, uncovering the hidden stories that are etched in its ancient stones.


Architecture and Design

The architecture and design of Angkor Wat are nothing short of extraordinary. The temple complex showcases the pinnacle of Khmer architecture, characterized by its intricate carvings, imposing towers, and precise alignments. Each element of the design holds deep symbolism and reflects the religious beliefs and cultural values of the Khmer people.


Angkor Wat is designed as a microcosm of the Hindu universe, with Mount Meru at its center. The temple is surrounded by a vast moat, representing the cosmic ocean. As you cross the causeway and enter the temple, you are metaphorically crossing from the earthly realm to the divine realm.


The main structure of Angkor Wat follows a quincunx plan, with a central tower surrounded by four smaller towers, representing the five peaks of Mount Meru. The towers, known as prasats, are adorned with intricate carvings depicting mythological scenes, celestial beings, and religious narratives.


The temple’s architectural layout reflects a carefully calculated harmony of proportion and symmetry. The dimensions of the temple complex adhere to sacred numerical ratios, with each level and structure meticulously designed to create a sense of balance and unity.


One of the most remarkable features of Angkor Wat is its extensive bas-reliefs. These carved stone panels cover the walls of the galleries and depict various mythological and historical scenes. The bas-reliefs serve not only as decorative elements but also as visual narratives, illustrating stories from Hindu epics and Khmer history.


Another impressive aspect of Angkor Wat’s architecture is its intricate stone carvings. The walls, pillars, and lintels are adorned with exquisite sculptures of gods, apsaras (celestial dancers), mythical creatures, and other significant figures. These carvings showcase the incredible skill and craftsmanship of the Khmer artisans, whose work has stood the test of time.


The ingenious drainage and water management system of Angkor Wat is also worth mentioning. The temple complex has a network of canals and reservoirs that facilitated the control of water flow and helped maintain the stability of the structures, even during the monsoon seasons.


Exploring Angkor Wat is like stepping into a living masterpiece of ancient architecture. The intricate details, the harmonious compositions, and the grandeur of the structures will leave you in awe, providing a window into the artistic brilliance and engineering achievements of the Khmer civilization.


Join us as we unravel the architectural marvels of Angkor Wat, delving into its design principles, examining its intricate carvings, and discovering the hidden stories behind its magnificent structures.


Symbolism and Religious Significance

Angkor Wat is not just an architectural marvel; it is also a place deeply imbued with religious symbolism and spiritual significance. Built as a Hindu temple before adopting Buddhist elements, the temple complex reflects the religious beliefs and practices of the Khmer Empire.


The design and layout of Angkor Wat are rich in symbolic meaning. The temple represents the Hindu concept of Mount Meru, a mythical mountain at the center of the universe. Its five towers, rising majestically towards the sky, symbolize the peaks of Mount Meru and the abode of Hindu gods. The temple is believed to be a gateway to the divine realm, a sacred space where mortals can connect with the divine.


The intricate carvings and bas-reliefs that adorn the walls of Angkor Wat are not merely decorative; they also convey religious teachings. Many of the carvings depict scenes from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as stories from Khmer mythology. These narratives serve as a visual guide to the Hindu and Buddhist teachings and have a didactic purpose, providing moral lessons and spiritual guidance.


A prominent religious feature of Angkor Wat is the depiction of apsaras, celestial nymphs in Hindu mythology. These finely carved figures grace the walls of the temple, appearing in various forms and poses. Apsaras are believed to be celestial dancers who entertain and inspire the gods. Their presence in Angkor Wat signifies the celestial nature of the temple and reflects the reverence for beauty and the arts in Khmer culture.


As Buddhism gained prominence in the region, Angkor Wat underwent transformations to incorporate Buddhist elements. Buddhist statues and shrines were added to the temple complex, reflecting the religious syncretism that took place. Today, Angkor Wat is considered a sacred site for both Hindus and Buddhists, attracting pilgrims and devotees from around the world.


Visiting Angkor Wat is not only an awe-inspiring architectural experience but also a journey of spiritual discovery. The sacred ambiance, the intricate carvings, and the timeless symbolism create an atmosphere that invites contemplation and introspection. It is a place where visitors can connect with ancient spiritual traditions and gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of religion, art, and culture.


Join us as we delve into the symbolism and religious significance of Angkor Wat, exploring the mythical tales depicted in its carvings, the role of apsaras in Hindu mythology, and the transformative power of this sacred place.


Exploring the Temples of Angkor

Exploring the temples of Angkor is a journey into the heart of ancient Khmer civilization. Within the sprawling complex, you will find not just Angkor Wat, but a multitude of other temples and structures that are equally captivating and steeped in history. Here are some of the must-visit temples that will leave you in awe:

  1. Angkor Wat: As the crown jewel of the complex, Angkor Wat is the main highlight that shouldn’t be missed. Spend ample time exploring its massive courtyards, ascending its steep steps, and admiring the intricate carvings that adorn its walls.
  2. Bayon: Located within the ancient city of Angkor Thom, Bayon is famous for its enigmatic smiling faces carved onto the towers. This temple is a masterpiece of Khmer architecture and provides a surreal and mystical atmosphere.
  3. Ta Prohm: Known for its captivating blend of ancient ruins and overgrown tree roots, Ta Prohm offers a truly unique and otherworldly experience. As you wander through its crumbling corridors, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an Indiana Jones movie.
  4. Banteay Srei: Often referred to as the “Citadel of the Women,” Banteay Srei is famous for its intricate and delicate carvings. The pink sandstone used in its construction adds to its charm, making it one of the most visually stunning temples in the complex.
  5. Preah Khan: Preah Khan is a vast temple complex that was once a royal city. It offers a labyrinthine layout, beautiful carvings, and atmospheric corridors that transport you back in time.

Each of these temples has its own unique character and charm, and exploring them allows you to unravel the secrets of the Khmer Empire while immersing yourself in the beauty of their architecture and art.


Keep in mind that visiting the temples of Angkor can be an overwhelming experience due to their vastness and sheer number. It is advisable to plan your visit wisely and allocate enough time to fully appreciate each temple. Additionally, wearing comfortable clothing, bringing sun protection, and carrying plenty of water are essential as the weather can be hot and humid.


Whether you choose to explore the well-known temples or venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems, the temples of Angkor will leave an indelible mark on your soul. They are a testament to human creativity, spirituality, and the enduring legacy of an ancient civilization.


Join us as we embark on an expedition through the temples of Angkor, delving into their unique features, unraveling their historical significance, and sharing tips to make the most of your visit.


Tips for Visiting Angkor Wat

Visiting Angkor Wat is an unforgettable experience, but it can also be overwhelming if not properly planned. To make the most of your trip and ensure a smooth visit, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  1. Plan your visit: Angkor Wat is massive, with numerous temples and structures spread across a vast area. Take the time to plan which temples you want to visit and create an itinerary. This will help you make the most efficient use of your time and ensure you don’t miss any must-see sites.
  2. Get an early start: Angkor Wat is most enchanting during sunrise, with the soft early morning light casting a golden glow on the temples. Arriving early not only allows you to witness this magical sight but also helps you beat the crowds. Start your day before dawn to secure a prime spot for sunrise.
  3. Respect the dress code: Angkor Wat is a sacred site, so it’s essential to dress respectfully. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and wear clothing that covers their knees. Wearing a hat or bringing a scarf to shield yourself from the sun is also advisable.
  4. Stay hydrate: Exploring the temples can be physically exhausting, especially in the tropical climate of Cambodia. Bring a refillable water bottle and stay hydrated throughout your visit. There are also several cafes and stalls within the complex where you can purchase drinks and snacks.
  5. Follow the rules: Signs and markers are placed throughout Angkor Wat, indicating restricted areas and reminding visitors to respect the site. Be mindful of these markers and follow the instructions to prevent any damage to the temples and ensure the preservation of this cultural treasure.
  6. Engage a knowledgeable guide: Hiring a local guide can greatly enhance your experience at Angkor Wat. They can provide valuable insights, share historical and cultural information, and guide you to lesser-known parts of the complex. Having a guide can make the trip more immersive and educational.
  7. Take your time and explore: Angkor Wat is not a place to rush through. Allocate enough time to truly appreciate the intricate carvings, explore hidden corners, and soak in the awe-inspiring ambiance. Some temples require climbing steep stairs or navigating narrow pathways, so take your time and be mindful of your surroundings.
  8. Capture the memories: While it’s important to be present in the moment, capturing the beauty of Angkor Wat through photographs allows you to relive the experience later. Bring a camera or smartphone with a good quality camera and capture the stunning architecture, intricate details, and breathtaking landscapes.
  9. Support the local community: There are many souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants around Angkor Wat where you can support the local community. Consider purchasing gifts or enjoying a meal at these establishments as a way to contribute to the local economy and gain a deeper connection with the culture.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your visit to Angkor Wat. Remember to approach the temples with respect, curiosity, and a sense of wonder as you uncover the secrets of this magnificent ancient site.


Nearby Attractions and Activities

While exploring Angkor Wat is undoubtedly the highlight of any visit to Siem Reap, the surrounding area offers a wealth of other attractions and activities to enhance your experience. Here are some nearby attractions that are worth exploring:

  1. Angkor Thom: Located just a short distance from Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom is an ancient walled city that served as the capital of the Khmer Empire. Explore its iconic South Gate, Bayon temple with its famous smiling faces, and the Terrace of the Elephants.
  2. Tonle Sap Lake: Take a boat ride to Tonle Sap Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Southeast Asia. Immerse yourself in the unique floating village, observe the local way of life, and witness the captivating sight of stilted houses, schools, and markets on the water.
  3. Phnom Bakheng: Climb to the top of Phnom Bakheng, a temple mountain located on a hill, to witness a breathtaking sunset over the Angkor complex. The panoramic views from the top are truly spectacular.
  4. Biking Tour: Explore the countryside surrounding Siem Reap on a biking tour. Cycle through local villages, lush rice paddies, and peaceful trails, immersing yourself in the rural charm and discovering a different side of Cambodia’s culture and way of life.
  5. Artisans Angkor: Visit Artisans Angkor, a social enterprise dedicated to preserving traditional Cambodian craftsmanship. Take a guided tour of the workshops and witness talented artisans weaving silk, carving intricate sculptures, and creating beautiful jewelry and handicrafts.
  6. Phare, The Cambodian Circus: Experience the unique blend of traditional and modern performing arts at Phare, The Cambodian Circus. This extraordinary circus troupe uses acrobatics, dance, and storytelling to bring Cambodian myths and legends to life.
  7. Siem Reap Night Market: Indulge in some retail therapy at the Siem Reap Night Market. Browse through an array of stalls selling handicrafts, souvenirs, clothing, and artwork. Sample local street food and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling market.
  8. Traditional Cambodian Cuisine: Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the flavors of Khmer cuisine. Try traditional dishes like amok, fish curry wrapped in banana leaves, or lok lak, a stir-fried beef dish. There are numerous restaurants in Siem Reap where you can sample authentic Khmer cuisine.

These nearby attractions and activities offer a diverse range of experiences, allowing you to delve deeper into the culture, history, and natural beauty of the region. Enhance your visit to Angkor Wat by immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of Siem Reap’s offerings.


As you explore these attractions, remember to respect the local customs and traditions, support local businesses, and immerse yourself fully in the unique experiences that Siem Reap has to offer.


Accommodation and Dining Options

Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor Wat, offers a wide range of accommodation and dining options to suit all budgets and preferences. Whether you’re seeking luxurious resorts, boutique hotels, or budget-friendly guesthouses, there’s something for everyone. Here are some recommendations for accommodation and dining in Siem Reap:


  1. Luxury Resorts: Siem Reap is home to several lavish resorts that offer top-notch amenities, exquisite dining experiences, and luxurious spas. Some popular options include Amansara, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, and Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor.
  2. Boutique Hotels: For a more intimate and personalized stay, boutique hotels are a great choice. These smaller, often family-owned establishments offer unique designs, exceptional service, and a cozy ambience. Look for options like Viroth’s Hotel, Templation Hotel, or The Aviary Hotel.
  3. Budget-Friendly Guesthouses: Travelers on a tighter budget can find comfortable and affordable guesthouses in Siem Reap. These accommodations offer basic amenities, friendly staff, and a chance to mingle with fellow travelers. Check out options like Jasmine Lodge, Onederz Hostel, or Garden Village Guesthouse.
  4. Eco-friendly Resorts: If you’re conscious about sustainable travel, consider staying at one of Siem Reap’s eco-friendly resorts. These resorts prioritize eco-friendly practices, including energy conservation, waste management, and support for local communities. Green Valley Guesthouse and Phum Baitang are excellent choices for eco-conscious travelers.
  5. Homestays: Experience authentic Khmer hospitality by opting for a homestay. These accommodations allow you to stay with local families, immersing yourself in their daily lives, and gaining a deeper understanding of the local culture. Homestay options like Cambodia Homestay Village and Theam’s House offer a unique cultural experience.


Siem Reap boasts a vibrant dining scene, offering a variety of culinary delights that cater to all tastes. From traditional Khmer cuisine to international fusion dishes, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your palate. Here are some dining options you shouldn’t miss:

  1. Street Food: Immerse yourself in the local food culture by trying street food in Siem Reap. Sample traditional dishes like Khmer noodles, grilled skewers, and fresh fruit from street vendors or at the Angkor Night Market.
  2. Khmer Fine Dining: Indulge in a fine dining experience with a modern twist on traditional Khmer cuisine. Many upscale restaurants in Siem Reap offer exquisite dining experiences using locally sourced ingredients. Cuisine Wat Damnak and Embassy Restaurant are highly recommended.
  3. International Cuisine: Siem Reap is home to a range of international restaurants catering to various tastes. From French bistros to Italian trattorias, you can find a diverse array of international cuisines. Consider trying restaurants like Marum, The Hashi, or Mahob Khmer Fusion Food for a fusion of international flavors with local ingredients.
  4. Vegetarian and Vegan Options: Vegetarian and vegan travelers will be pleased to find several restaurants in Siem Reap that cater specifically to their dietary preferences. Vibe Café, Chamkar Vegetarian Restaurant, and Peace Café are popular choices offering delicious plant-based dishes.
  5. Food Markets: Visit the local food markets in Siem Reap, such as Psar Chas (Old Market) and Phsar Leu Thom Thmey, to experience the vibrant atmosphere and sample a variety of street food and Cambodian delicacies.

No matter your accommodation choice or dining preference, Siem Reap has something to satisfy every traveler’s needs. From luxury experiences to budget-friendly options, and from traditional Cambodian dishes to international delights, the city offers a rich culinary and hospitality scene.


Enjoy your stay in Siem Reap, savor the local flavors, and immerse yourself in the warm hospitality that this captivating city has to offer.



As we come to the end of our exploration of Angkor Wat and its surrounding attractions, we hope that this article has piqued your curiosity and inspired you to embark on your own adventure to this remarkable destination.


Angkor Wat stands as a testament to the brilliance of the Khmer Empire and serves as a gateway to a rich cultural and historical past. From its awe-inspiring architecture and intricate carvings to its deep religious significance and mystical symbolism, this archaeological wonder offers a captivating experience that transcends time and connects us with the ancient Khmer civilization.


Exploring the temples of Angkor is like stepping back in time, immersing yourself in a world of beauty, spirituality, and artistry. From the grandeur of Angkor Wat to the enigmatic smiles of Bayon and the ethereal beauty of Ta Prohm, each temple unveils a unique story and leaves a lasting impression.


Beyond the temples, Siem Reap offers a variety of attractions and activities that further enrich your experience. From the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake to the vibrant markets, traditional cuisine, and cultural performances, the city provides a complete immersion into Cambodian life and culture.


Siem Reap is also home to a range of accommodation options, from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses, ensuring there is a comfortable stay for everyone. And with a diverse culinary scene that spans from street food to international fusion cuisine, your taste buds will be delighted at every turn.


As you plan your visit to Angkor Wat and Siem Reap, remember to approach the site and its surrounding area with respect and awe. Take the time to learn about the cultural and historical significance, engage with the local community, and contribute to the preservation of this extraordinary heritage.


Whether you embark on a spiritual journey, an architectural exploration, or a cultural adventure, your time in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap promises to be an unforgettable experience. Let the magic of this ancient wonder envelop you and create memories that will last a lifetime.


So pack your bags, embark on a new journey, and prepare to be immersed in the wonders of Angkor Wat and the vibrant city of Siem Reap. An adventure of a lifetime awaits!