Angkor Exploring Part 4 of 7: Over the next few weeks we will share our experiences visiting Siem Reap and the surrounding area while we are offline in Myanmar. Articles may load slowly due to the number of photos, but it’ll be worth the wait. We are presenting the sites in chronological order of construction, the same order in which we visited them. After providing “Angkor Exploring” as a frame of reference, we will share tips on how to make the most of your trip to one of the world’s wonders.
As the sun rises over Angkor Wat visitors arrive as they have for almost 1000 years. Even as the city and civilization fell around it, this house of the gods has maintained its position as the world’s largest religious building, as the symbol of Cambodia, and one of the world’s wonders. Angkor Wat sat in the middle of what was the world’s largest pre-industrial city and one of the most powerful empires the world has ever known.
Here is a photo journal of what you can see in and around the temple. For more photos click here to see our Angkor Wat album or here for more Cambodia photos. Be warned though, photos don’t do justice to the scale and magnificence of the Angkor Kingdom.
The outer enclosure of Angkor Wat is walkable and we highly recommend walking around it to understand how large it is.
Carved from a single piece of sandstone, Vishnu greets visitors while serving his purpose of maintaining and protecting Angkor Wat through generations of different rulers.
Walking inside the central enclosure, visitors walk next to bas reliefs of scripture including descriptions of the gods, life, death, heaven and hell.
Here, after judgement those not worthy of heaven fall to hell where terrible things occur, such as whatever they are inflicting on these people.
The most famous bas relief, the Churning of the Sea of Milk, which, in its simplest explanation is the nectar of the gods. For more information see this Wikipedia entry.
The bas reliefs continue as you enter the inside of the complex. Throughout the temple there are few ropes or controls imposed on tourists. This has led to many of the apsaras showing wear, in very specific places, we presume for good luck.
The soaring Central Tower where an amazing temple becomes more impressive.
Inside many of the bas reliefs have been fully restored so that visitors can see the detail and depth of the carvings up close.
The longer we wandered Angkor Wat, the more impressed we were. We spent hours exploring and often just staring at the detailed carvings and massive scale.
IF YOU GO:
- Visit immediately after sunrise. Hoards of tourists come to see the sunrise, then pile back on their bus to eat breakfast. While they are dining you have the chance to see Angkor Wat without the crowds. Later in the morning until closing time there will be hundreds, if not thousands of people, all around.
- There are restaurants and bathrooms on site. You needn’t walk far to get what you need, stay within the moat and your needs will be fulfilled.
- Take your time. Tours that have a day full of temples won’t give you enough time to fully visit Angkor Wat. Take a separate morning with fresh legs to wander this without time restrictions.