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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

ANGKOR - ARE YOU TRAVELLING IN THAILAND? ADD TO YOUR ITINERARY A TRIP TO ANGKOR - CAMBODIA

The demon guarding the moat outside the walled city - Angkor
Angkor, also known as Angkor Wat from the name of its most famous temple, is the biggest and most interesting archeological site in Cambodia. It is the best preserved architectural complex of the Khmer Age and of the Khmer culture. It is situated near the Cambodian town of Siem Reap, two hours away from the Thai border.

After visiting Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai amazing temples and the beautiful island of Kho Tao in Thailand we thought was time to visit Angkor. If you are visiting Thailand you should absolutely plan at least four days to visit Angkor.
Angkor is distant only 10 hours from Bangkok by train or bus or an hour and a half away by plane with a daily flight Bangkok - Siem Reap.


You will be amazed by the size and the beauty of this complex of temples and imperial buildings, once the capital of the Khmer Empire.

When you visit Angkor you visit the largest preindustrial city in the world, with an elaborate system of infrastructure connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres that you can still visit today. Surrounded by the jungle and by large rice fields Angkor is an archeological area with around 1000 buildings including temples and ruins.
Female figures in the South-West corner pavillion of Angkor Wat


Every temple has wonderful decorations, statues and sculptures.

Historical Angkor was more than a site for religious art and architecture. It was the site of vast cities that served all the needs of the Khmer people. Aside from a few old bridges, however, all of the remaining monuments are religious edifices. In Angkorian times, all non-religious buildings, including the residence of the king himself, were constructed of perishable materials, such as wood, "because only the gods had a right to residences made of stone."

Life in Cambodia - Tuk Tuk driver resting in front of a mountain of art! - Angkor

Indigenous religious cults a royal cult of personality, identifying the king with the deity, Hinduism, especially Shaivism, but also Vaishnavism, the form of Hinduism focussed on the worship of Vishnu and Buddhism, in both its Mahayana and Theravada varieties are represented.

Here some practical info you need to bear in mind before to visit Angkor:

1) It is impossible to see Angkor (and not even just Angkor Wat) in one day, so buy the three day ticket pass and save money.

2) It is impossible to visit Angkor walking so either you hire a tuk-tuk or you rent a motorbike or a bike (although with the bike it will be very tiring as the temples are quite far away one from the other!)

3) Only hire an official guide. If you hire a tuk-tuk contract the price before to start your tour, tuk-tuk drivers can ask extortionate rates!

4) Bring with you plenty of water as it will be incredibly hot! On the site many drinks are sold, but most of them well after the "best using before" date! Same is true for food unfortunately.

The 54 demons holding the tail of the multiheaded snake on the cause way towards the walled city, Angkor

5) Angkor is only an archeological area, there is no accommodation there. Base yourself in the nearest town: Siem Reap, possibly in the area of the night market that it is very interesting to visit after dinner!

6) Although the most famous temple is Angkor Wat, there are many more interesting temples to be seen  at Angkor: don't miss at least Bayon and the walled city and Bateay Den!

7) Try to buy a book about the Archeological Area of Angkor and particularly a map before to visit, it is worthwhile and it will help you to understand more.

Giants in the palace - Angkor

8) Don't rush but take time to visit the most important temples, they are so full of details that a quick visit will not be enough to enjoy them.

9) When you visit Angkor don't forget when these temples have been built (around the year 1000) and be impressed of the refinery of their details!

10) Keep in mind that most of the statues were originally painted and try to imagine how even more impressive the statues and the temples should have looked at the time with their original colours on (I tried, working on the photos, to show you how the statues should have looked with their original colours: see for example the picture above of the Female figures in the South-West corner pavillion of Angkor Wat to have an idea!).

11) Don't believe in all the stories you hear about crossing the border from Thailand to Cambodia. Buy your visa through internet on the official website of the cambodian governement and you will not have any problem. Don't trust anyone who want to sell you any kind of visa!

12) And finally be adventurous and go off the beaten track! Visit also Koh Ker.
Koh Ker is the modern name for an important city of the Khmer empire. It is situated about two and half hours away from Siem Reap. It is not yet as famous as Angkor and only basic visitors facilities are now being built. This makes of Koh Ker a very interesting and adventurous destination for anyone who would like to experience lonely temples in a much more quiet enviroment. We publish below the teaser of a great project from Akasa Studio, raising raise awareness about this wonderful monument and seeking support for their feature documentary they are going to produce. We think this video is wonderful!




Hope you enjoyed this post and photos and you will enjoy visit Angkor. 
Read below for more great destinations in Asia or use the index on the right column of this page!

Angkor Wat in its amazing magnificence! - Angkor, Siem Reap - Cambodia


The City Walls gates protected by the divinities - Angkor

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