Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is a temple complex built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. Angkor Wat lies 5.5 km north of the modern town of Siem Reap.

Angkor Wat is the best-preserved temple at the site: it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. It is the world's largest religious building. It is set within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres long and comprises three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas (guardian spirits) adorning its walls. Angkor Wat required considerable restoration in the 20th century, mainly the removal of accumulated earth and vegetation. Work was interrupted by the civil war and Khmer Rouge control of the country during the 1970s and 1980s, but relatively little damage was done during this period other than the theft and destruction of mostly post-Angkorian statues.

The Bayon and Angkor Thom is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple. Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom. Following Jayavarman's death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences. The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak

Ta Prohm is one kilometre east of Angkor Thom and was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors

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Our first stop was Ta Prohm and its dramatic "strangler figs"

Then on to Angkor Wat after lunch
Overnight in Meridian Hotel and dinner at Viroth's with a show by local orphans
The Bayon and Angkor Thom were tackled the next day. We walked a fair distance from the gate and explored the ruins here by ourselves
And there was just time for a swim at the Meridian pool, before the joys of the airport and a flight back to Bangkok, where we had to queue for well over an hour in order to get past immigration


On to Ang Thong Marine National Park

Cruise Hanoi to Singapore on Orion II