Angkor Wat(Siem Reap), CAMBODIA

Area Code 063 US$1=4000riel, June 20, 2005

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The magnificent Temples and Monuments at Angkor rank among the world's greatest Archaeological sights.
Built on a site believed to be the home of Hindu Gods, the complex covers an area over 160sq km. Constructed between the 9th & 13th C, at the height of the Khmer Empire, by a succession of Khmer Kings. It was built both as an honor to Indian Gods and as a showcase of their own wealth and power.

If you plan to spend 3+ days here,the best temple strategy is to split your day into morning & afternoon sessions. The temples are at their most impressive at sunrise & sunset. These times of day are the coolest & offer the best photographic opportunities and there will be fewer visitors.

Sunrise is a magical time of day, The best way to experience Angkor Wat for the first time is to arrive very early & watch the towers appear gradually out of the dark gloom before you as dawn breaks, then watch the sun bathe Angkor in it's morning glow. Sra Srang is also excellent for watching the sun-rise over the lake & is usually deserted & quiet. For breakfast either take bread rolls with you or return to your guest-house for a late breakfast & siesta, before returning late afternoon.
If you are out in the middle of the day, the jungle temples of Ta Prohm & Preah Khan offer both good lighting for photos as the light filters through the trees & welcome shade at the same time.

Banteay Srei is now officially open to all tourists. Motos & taxis charge extra for this visit as Banteay Srei lies some 25 km away from the main temple area.

There are many sellers at the temples who offer cold drinks & camera film as well as a range of handicrafts. They can be very persistent, so it's good to know Khmer for "No thank-you"is "atay aw kuhn". Bargain for all goods.

Don't buy fake tickets:
There seems to be a lot of corruption regarding buying tickets to the temples. Many tourists are paying their dollars & don't even get to see their tickets. Don't feel pressured to buy from your guest-house or a moto driver if you don't feel happy. Tickets can be purchased easily & very quickly either from the Tourist Office or from the ticket booths at the checkpoints on the roads leading from Siem Reap to the temples.


Another alternative trip not requiring a pass is to Phnom Krom & Lake Tonle Sap. Phnom Krom is a hill just N from Lake Tonle Sap. There is a crumbled Angkor ruin & a new monastery on the top which affords a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. You may have to give some cigarettes to army personnel before climbing the stairs. Good for sunrise / sunset. River boats can be hired for about 90 minutes at a cost of 8US$ to tour the floating village on the nearby Lake Tonle Sap, where you can see everything from fish farms to floating petrol stations.

Phnom Kulen is another hill, north-east of Siem Reap beyond Banteay Srei. Very popular with Khmers at weekends, there is a large waterfall here. The government do intend opening this site in the future. Nearby is a river where further carvings (river of 1000 linga's) can be seen. No info at this time. Currently, significant bribes are needed to tour these areas.

Admission: US$20/1 day, US$40/3days, US$60/7days. Except the day ticket, 1 photo required. Most people use moto taxis organised through the guest house - about $5-6/day. Rental bicycles and rental motorbikes are available. See city info.
Sunrise: Your moto driver will tell you what time to leave in order to enjoy the sunrise at Angkor.
Sunset: It is possible to enter the area for free after 17:00 to enjoy the sunset. Angkor Wat and Bakheng hill are popular places for sunset. By moto $1
food & drink at Angkor Wat: Drinks vendors are everywhere. Coke costs 2-3000r , water 1000r. There are a few basic food stalls in front of Angkor Wat and at some other parts of the complex. Prices are reasonable. Most people return to their GH at lunch time, eat, have a rest and return for sunset.
Hassle from sellers and children. There are a lot of complaints about the many sellers and children.
! Warning Though much of the ruins have been cleared of mines there is still a slight possibility -Stay on marked paths and tourist areas to avoid land mines and snakes.

Main Ruins
S1 Angkor Wat: Capitol temple Most spectacular of all the temples, ranks as one of the 'must see before dying' wonders of the world. Highly Rec
Built 12th C by Suryavarman II in honour of the Hindu God, Vishnu and also as his own burial place. Hindu mythology and the power of the Kings dominate all elements of the design. The 5 huge tower represent the peaks of Mt Meru, home to the Gods.
The 800m Bas relief covering the wall of the 1st level gallery in the central complex, illustrates many legends.
The most famous scene called the 'Churning of the Ocean, of Milk' depicts 88 devils and 92 gods churning up the sea in an attempt to make ambrosia, a substance which confers immortality on those who take it. Best light is in the late afternoon.
S2 Bakheng (Thom): a pyramid style temple on a hill outside S gate of Angkor Thom. Good place to watch the sunset and has views of Angkor. Possible to be carried up the hill by an elephant.

Angkor Thom
Built by Jayavarman VII late 12th C. 'Capitol city' is 10 sq km with an 8m high stone wall. Surrounded by moat across which are 5 causeways leading to 5 gates. Each causeway has sculptured balustrates, depicting the churning sea - creation mythology also illustrated in the Bas Reliefs on the walls of the gallery in Angkor Wat. As with Beijing's 'Forbidden City', only Religious, Royal and high ranking staff were allowed to live within the walled city.
S3 Bayon: A temple in the centre of Angkor Thom, most visited site after Angkor Wat. Dominating the temple is the 45 m tower surrounded by 51 smaller towers. All with eerily smiling faces carved into them. Walls covered with Bas reliefs. Early morning is the best time to visit.
S4 Terrace of the Elephants: Built by Suryavarman I. 350m long terrace. Rows of sculptured Garudas form the central section.
S5 Terrace of the Leper King: 7m high terrace. Named after the main statue - Yama, a naked god of death, covered in lichen, thus giving the impression of a leper. (This statue is a reproduction, the original Leper King Statue is in the National Museum, Phnom Penh.
S6 Ta Prohm: Enormous 17th C temple. Left in its 'natural' state, still overgrown by jungle -huge tree roots twisted around the temple. it is one of Angkor Wat's highlights.
Highly Rec
S7 Neak Pean: Temple located in the center of 5 lakes(Sometimes dried). Seems to be floating on a naga - a holy snake.Rec
S8 Preah Khan (Holy Sword): Buddhist Temple built by Jayavarman VII in 1191. It is said that the site is where the Khmer defeated Champa. The outer gate is guarded by 2 giant Garuda.

In town
S Miniature Angkor Wat: Miniature Angkor Wat and Khmer style statues in a little quiet back garden 7-17:00 $1+donation.
S Akira's Land Mine Museum: E from the information office. Ask the location. T012-598951. Free. During Khmer Rouge period, Akira has his parent killed by Khmer Rouge and he was raised by them. Later he was working for Vietnamese army and UN force. Now he is removing land mines alone. The museum houses huge volume of the land mines done by him, unexploded bomb shells, photos and a set of land mine field. Volunteers who lost arms or legs guide you around this museum. Highly Rec
Akira now opened a gallery near Old Market(T012-242618) where children play a drama or play music every other day.
S Cambodia Cultural Village: Route 6 Svay Donghum, 2km W from the town.T963836, 9-21:00, entrance fee $12. Theme park of Cambodia's history and culture. Also they have cultural performance, dance or music show.

Others: Out from the town.
S Banteay Srei: 25 km N. from Angkor Wat.
The bas-relief and carvings here are the best preserved and most detailed.
Shared taxi US$20 moto-taxi $6 (all day)
Tickets for Angkor Wat are supposed to include entry to Banteay Srei but Moto-drivers will ask you for an extra $4, they say to pay off the checkpoint police.
The journey is not so hard by motorbike though the road is dusty and you will come back very dirty. Wear a scarf and sunglasses.
S Bakong, Preah & Lolei: 3 ruins on route 6, about 10 km E from Siem Reap, free entrance. Transport by bike taxi $3/p A good place to visit when you have a half day, such as on the day you arrive from Phnom Penh.
S  Boeng Mealea: Newly discovered temple which has not been touched by people. You can see the real "ruin" more than Ta Prohm entrance fee free, pickup truck tour $15/day($100-120/truck) incl lunch and drink 
See Andy Brouwer's site
S  Phnom Kulen: Sacred Khmer mountain.where you can see thousand "Lingas" in a river bank. Entrance fee free, Tour with Banteay Srei $60/p. with lunch + drinks
See Andy Brouwer's site
S  Kbal Spean: Sacred Khmer site in the mountain.where you can see beautiful carvings on the bottom of the river. Entrance fee free, Tour with Banteay Srei $40/p. with lunch + drinks
See Andy Brouwer's site

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