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Siem Reap Province

Siem Reap is home to the world famous heritage of the Angkor temples including the magnificent Angkor Wat, a heritage of humanity and world wonder. It is a vibrant city with many modern hotels and old colonial buildings boasting awesome architecture. Much of the town’s image, culture and traditions are conserved despite the influx of tourists from all over the world.

The main attraction to Siem Reap is the magnificent Angkor Wat; the largest single religious monument in the world.  Billed as the eighth wonder of the world, it was built in the 12th century and is now one of the most enduring architectural achievements in the world. Shrouded in legend and mystery, this once lost city boasts more than 1000 archaeological sites ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the Angkor Wat itself. The sites cover an area of 170 square miles in the Siem Reap area and it depends largely on how much time one has and one’s level of interest to determine how long one should spend to explore them.

In Siem Reap, you will find restaurants of almost every culture and also bars & café of nearly every fashion and size all about town. The Psar Leu area is where one can find great bargains in jewellery and handicraft from precious stones to wonderful woodcarvings.  There are also many shops offering traditional massage and reflexology to help relieve those tired feet after a day’s tour of the temples.

Siem Reap Province is basically the cradle of Angkorean civilization and it is a province that offers plenty of opportunity to tourists enthralled by the Khmer culture.

Reach to Siem Reap
The province of Siem Reap is conveniently situated 314 km northwest of Phnom Penh, along National Road No 6. It can be reached all year round by National Road No 6 from Phnom Penh, Poipèt Border Checkpoint, Banteay Meanchey Province, Kampong Cham Province and Kampong Thom Province; and by National Road No 5 and 6 from Kampong Chhnang Province, Pursat Province and Battambang Province.
Siem Reap is accessible on direct flights from many major cities in the region including Bangkok, Danang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Paksé, Vientiane, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kunming, Taipei, etc.  From the capital of Phnom Penh, the Cambodia National Airline operates 5 direct flights per day to and fro Siem Reap.

There are also speedboats operating along the Tonlé Sap from Phnom Penh and Battambang Province.

Places of Interest:

Angkor Wat:
Angkor Wat is located about 7 kilometers north of Siem Reap provincial town along Komai or Charles De Gaul Road. The temple was built in the early 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II (AD 1113-1150) is unrivaled in its beauty and state of preservation. It is an expression of Khmer art at its highest point of development.

Some Believed Angkor Wat was designed by Divakarapandita, the chief adviser and minister of the king, dedicating to Vishnu Brahmanism. The Khmers attribute the building of Angkor Wat to the divine architect Visvakarman. There has been considerable debate amongst scholars as to whether Angkor Wat was built as a temple or a bomb.

Angkor Wat, according to Coedes, is a replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world. The central tower rises from the center of the monument symbolizing the mythical Mount Meru, situated at the center of the universe. Its five towers correspond to the peaks of Meru, the outer wall to the mountains at the edge of the world, and the surrounding moat to the oceans beyond.

Originally, the temple was called Prasat Paramavishnuloka. However, the evolution of the name Angkor Wat can be drawn by history. The first proof existed in the 16th century,
When the temple became a well-known Buddhist place. According to a 16th century inscription, its name was Preah Mohanokor Indrabrat Preah Visnuloka. In a 17th century inscription, it was called INdrabratnokor Sreisodhara Visnuloka. Angkor Wat is a simple name to refer to this holy place. Khmer people, especially those living in and around Siem Reap, often refer to Angkor Toch. However, European authors decided on a common name, Angkor Wat. Nevertheless, its original name has not been forgotten and is known by many people.

Angkor Wat covers a rectangular area of about 200 hectares defined by a laterite rampart which is surrounded by a moat that is 200 meters wide. The perimeter of the rampart measures 5.5 kilometers. The moat is crossed by a huge cause way built of sandstone blocks 250 meters long and 12 meters wide. The temple is 65 meters high. With its massive size and splendor, Angkor Wat was believed to have been built by the gods rather than by man.

The temple begins with a sandstone terrace in the shape of a cross. Giant stone lions on each side of the terrace guard the monument. End of the causeways at the gopura with three towers of varying heights, of which much of the upper sections have collapsed. A long, covered gallery with square columns and a vaulted roof extends along the moat to the left and right of the gopura.

The causeway leads to the cruciform gopura or entry tower. The gateways at ground level on each end of the gallery probably served as passages for elephants, horses and carts, whereas the other entrances are accessed by steps and lead onto the central promenade. From the central entrance turn right  and walk along the columned gallery coming to the end, where the quality of carving and intricacy of decoration on the false door is of exceptional beauty.

Continue eastward along the raised walkway of equally imposing proportions which is 350 meters long and 9 meters wide. A low balustrade formed by short columns supporting the scaly body of a naga borders each side. Along the causeway, the ceremonial stairs with platforms always in pairs to the left and the right. The naga balustrade also flames the stairs. There are two buildings, so-called libraries, stand in the courtyard on the left and right, just past the middle of the causeway. In front of the libraries are two ponds, which are 65 meters long and 50 meters wide, ingeniously placed to capture the reflection of the towers in the water. The one on the left is filled with water, whereas the other one is usually dry.

The architectural triumph on the walkway is the cruciform shaped Terrace of Honor, just in front of the principle gopura of Angkor Wat. Ritual dance were performed on this terrace and it may also have been where the king viewed processions and received foreign dignitaries. From the top of this terrace there is a fine view of the famous galleries of bas-reliefs on the first platform level.

The cross-shaped galleries provide the link between the first and second levels. The unique architectural design consists of covered cruciform-shaped galleries with square columns forming four courtyards each with paved basins and steps.  Many of the pillars in the galleries of this courtyard have inscriptions written in Sanskrit and Khmer. At both ends of the north and south galleries are two libraries of similar from, but smaller than the ones along the entrance causeway. There is a good view of the upper level of Angkor Wat from the northern one.

The gallery of 1000 Buddhas, on the right, once contained many images dating from the period when Angkor Wat was Buddhist, but only a few of these figures remain today. The Hall of Echoes, on the left, is so named because of its unusual acoustics. Return to the center of the cruciform-shaped galleries and continue walking eastward toward the central towers. The outer wall of the gallery of the second level, closes, is solid and undecorated, probably to create an environment for meditation by the priests and the king. The starkness of the exterior of the second level gallery is offset by the decoration of the interior. Over 1500 Apsaras line the walls of the gallery, offering endless visual the spiritual enchantment.

Only the king and the high priest were allowed on the upper or third level of Angkor Wat. This level lacks the stately covered galleries of the other two, but as the base of the five central towers, one of which contains the most sacred image of the temple, it has an equally important role in the architectural scheme. Like all of Angkor Wat, the statistics of this level are imposing. The square base is 60 meters long, 13 meters high, and rises over 40 meters above the second level. Twelve sets of stairs with 40 steps each – one in the center of each side and two at the corners – ascend at a 70-degree angle giving access to the topmost level.

The central sanctuary soars 42 meters above the upper level. Its height is enhanced by a tiered plinth. This central sanctuary originally had four porches opening to the cardinal directions and sheltered a statue of Vishnu. Today it is possible to make an offering to a modern image of the Buddha and light a candle in this sacred inner sanctum. The central core of the temple was walled up some time after the sacking of Angkor in the middle of the 15th century. Nearly 500 years later French archaeologists discovered a vertical shaft 27 meters deep with a hoard of gold objects at its base.

Angkor Wat Galleries of Bas-reliefs
The galleries of bas-reliefs, surrounding the first level of Angkor Wat, contain 1200  square meters of sandstone carving. The bas-reliefs are divided into eight sections, two panels flanking each of the four central entrances and additional scenes in each pavilion at the north and south corners of the west gallery. The scenes on the bas-reliefs run horizontally, from left to right, in a massive expanse along the walls. Sometimes decorated borders are added. The scenes are arranged in one of two ways: either without any deliberate attempt to separate the scenes, or in registers which are sometimes superimposed on one another.

As the bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat were designed for viewing  from left to right, the visitors should follow this convention for maximum appreciation. Enter the gallery of bas-reliefs at the middle of the west side, turn right into the gallery and continue walking counter-clockwise. Visitors who start from another point should keep the monument on their left.
1.    West Gallery (South): Battle of Kurukshetra (Scene from the epic Mahabharata)
2.    Corner Pavilion (Southeast): Scene from the epic Ream Ke
3.    South Gallery (West): Army of King Suryavarman II
4.    South Gallery (East): Judgment by Yama / Heaven and hell
5.    East Gallery (South): Churning of the Ocean of Milk.
6.    East Gallery (Near the entrance): Inscription
7.    East Gallery (North): Victory of Vishnu over the Demons.
8.    North Gallery (East): Victory of Krishna over Bana
9.    North Gallery (West): Battle between the Gods and the Demons.
10.    Corner Pavilion (Northwest): Scene from the epic Ream Ke.
11.    West Gallery (North): Battle of Lanka (Scene from the epic Reap Ke)

Temples Between Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom

Ta Prohm Kil Temple
Ta Prohm Kil temple is located on the way from Angkor Wat to Angkor Thom, about 300 meters from the west entry gate of Agnkor Wat. The chapel made of sandstone that faces east. This temple was built in the late 12 century, during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. According to an inscription found in 1928, the chapel of 102 hospitals built by King Javavarman VII has the same form.

Phnom Ba Kheng temple
Phnom Ba Kehng temple was built on a natural hill. Commonly referred to as temple-mountain because it is an earthly facsimile of Mount Meru, it is located on the left side of the road from Angkor Wat to Angkor Thom and attracts scores of tourists who come to watch the sunset or sunrise. The temple was cut from the rock that formed the natural hill and faced with sandstone in the late 9the and early 10th centuries, during the reign of King Yasovarman I (AD 889910), dedicating to Shiva Brahmanism.

Phnom Ba Kheng is 65 meters high and the temple has 109 towers. Phnom Ba Kheng temple was a replica of Mount Meru and the number of towers suggests a cosmic symbolism. The seven levels-ground, five tiers, upper terrace of the monument represent the seven heavens of Indra in Brahmanism mythology.

The temple must have been a spectacular site in its entirety because originally 108 towers were evenly spaced around the tiers with yet another one, the central sanctuary, at the apex of them all. Today, however, most of these towers have collapsed. Besides the central sanctuary, there were 4 towers on the upper terrace, 12 on each of the 5 levels of the platform, and another 44 towers around the base. The  brick towers on the different levels represent the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac. It is also possible that the numerology of the 108 towers symbolizes the 4 lunar phases with 27 days in each phase. The arrangement allows for only 33 of the towers to be seen from each side, a figure that corresponds with the number of Brahmanism deities.

At the top of the hill, Phnom Ba Kheng is set on a tiered platform of five levels. There are stairways of a very steep gradient on all four sides. Seated lions flank the step at each of the five levels. The complex is surrounded by a laterite rampart with gopuras. Beyon there is a small structure to north with sandstone pillars in which there are two lingams. A modern footprint of the Buddha is in the center of the path. Two libraries are opening only to the west on either side of the part.

At the top most platform of 76 meter square and 13 meter high, five towers are arranged in quincunx. The central tower once contained the lingam to which  the temple was dedicated. It opens to all four cardinal points. The remaining four sanctuaries also sheltered lingams on pedestals and open on two sides. The central sanctuary is decorated with female divinities set in niches at the corner of the temple which have delicately carved bands of foliage above; the pilasters are finely worked and have raised interlacing of figurines. The makaras on the tympanums are lively and strongly executed. The decoration above the doors is well-preserved showing a panel of foliated cusps with the heads of 33 gods. An inscription is visible on the west side of the north door of the central sanctuary

According to an inscription on the temple, Phnom Ba Kheng was the center of the city of Yasodharapura. This fact was verified in the late 9th century with the discovery of an old rampart. This temple was originally called Yasodharakiri. Later it was known as Phnom Kandal because it was built in the center of the city Yasodharapura or because it is between Phnom Bok and Phnom Krom. Today visitors refer to the temple as Phnom Ba Kheng. This name was found in an inscription on the temple in the 16th century.

Baksei Cham Krom Temple
Baksei Cham Krong temple is located about 150 meters north of Phnom Ba Kheng. The temple was perhaps begun construction by King Harshavarman I (AD 910-944) and completed by King Rajendravarman (AD 944-968), dedicating Shiva Brahmanism. Inscriptions on the door reveal the date of the temple and mention a golden image of Shiva and the mythical founder of the Khmer civilization.

The temple is a simple plan with a single tower on top of a square, four tiered laterite platform. Three levels of the base are undecorated, but the top platform has horizontal molding around it that sets off the sanctuary. A square, central brick tower stands on a sandstone base shaped like a cone. It has one door opening to the east with three false doors on the other sides, which are in remarkably good condition. Most of the lintels are in poor condition, but, on the east, Indra riding a three-headed elephant is till recognizable and is finely carved. The interior of the tower has a sunken floor and a corbelled vault.

Rorng Romong Temple
Rorng Romong temple is southwest of Phnom Ba Kheng. A small brick temple, the upper part has been lost over time. According to local residents, the temple’s name comes from the traditional Khmer game Romong. Some people, however, say the temple was once used to house an animal called Romong. Such an animal does not exist today, however, and no one has ever seen a picture of it.

Thma Bay Kaek Temple
Thma Bay Kaek temple is located near the south moat of Angkor Thom and north of Baksei Cham Krong temple, about 125 meters from the entrance to Angkor Thom. This temple was built in the 10th century to worship Brahmanism. No one knows who built the temple.

Bey Temple
Bey temple is located west of Thma Bay Ka Ek temple. Constructed of brick in the 10th century, dedicating to Shiva Brahmanism, it has three towers and faces east. The original name of the temple is known. However, because it has three towers, it is called Bey temple.

Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom, the last capital of Angkor Period (AD 802-1432) until the 15th century, was indeed a Great City as it name implies, and it served as the religious and administrative center of the vast and powerful Khmer Empire. The capital of King Jayavarman VII (AD 1181-1220), Angkor Thom, is a microcosm of the universe divided into four parts by the main axes. Bayon temple stands as the symbolic link between heaven and earth. The wall enclosing the city of Angkor Thom represents the stone wall around the universe and the mountain ranges around Meru. The surrounding moat suggests the cosmic ocean. This symbolism is reinforced by the presence of god Indra on his mount, the three headed elephant.

Angkor Thom is enclosed by an 8-meter-high laterite rampart that is laid out on a square grid of 3 kilometers long on each side. A moat with a width of 100 meters surrounds the outer wall. The city is accessed along five great causeways, one in each cardinal direction – Death Gate (east), Dei Chhnang Gate (north), Takao Gate (west), and Tonle Om Gate (south) – plus an additional Victory Gate on the east aligned with the Terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. A tall gopura distinguished by a superstructure of four faces bisects the wall in the center of each side.

Four small temples, all called Chrung temple, stand at each corner of the wall around the city of Angkor Thom. Made of sandstone and designed in a cross plan, the temple built by King Jayavarman VII to worship Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. An inscription tells about its construction.

The stone causeways across the broad moat surrounding Agnkor Thom with their unique gopuras, are one of the great sights at Angkor, never ceasing to fill visitors with wonder. The causeways leading to the gopuras are flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side – gods on the left and demons on the right – to make a total of 108 mythical beings guarding each of the five approaches to the city of Angkor Thom. The demons have a grimacing expression and wear a military headdress, whereas the gods look serene with their almond-shaped eyes and conical headdresses. The gods and demons hold the scaly body of a naga on their knees. This composition defines the full length of the causeway. At the beginning of the causeway, the naga spreads its nine heads in the shape of a fan.

The five sandstone gopuras rise 23 meters to the sky and is crowned with four heads, one facing each cardinal direction. At the base of each gate are finely modeled elephants with three heads. Their trunks are plucking lotus flowers, in theory out of the moat. The god Indra sits at the center of the elephant with his consorts on each side. He holds a thunderbolt in his lower left hand. Stand in the center of the gopura, visitors will see a sentry box on each side. Also remains of wooden crossbeams are still visible in some of the gopuras. Beneath the gopura visitor can see the corbelled arch, a hallmark of Khmer architecture.

Bayon Temple
The Bayon temple is located in the center of Agnkor Thom. The temple is one of the most popular sites in the Angkor complex. It was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries by King Jayavarman VII. The architectural composition of the Bayon exudes grandness in every aspect. Over 200 large faces caved on the 54 towers give this temple its majestic character, which at that time represents the 54 provinces in Cambodia. The iconography of the four faces has been widely debated by scholars and some think they represent the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvar, in keeping with the Buddhist character of the temple, it is generally accepted that the four faces on each of the towers are images of King Jayavarman VII and signify the omnipresence of the King.

The plan of the Bayon is presented on three separate levels. The first and second levels contain galleries featuring the bas-reliefs. A 16-sided central sanctuary dominates the third level, which is cruciform in plan. Despite this seemingly simple plan, the layout of the Bayon is complex due to later additions, a maze of galleries, passages and steps, connected in a way that makes the levels practically indistinguishable and creates dim lighting, narrow walkways and ceiling.

Besides the architecture and the smiling faces, the highlight of Bayon is undoubtedly the bas-reliefs. The bas-reliefs on the inner gallery are mainly mythical scenes, whereas those on the outer gallery are a marked departure from anything previously seen at Angkor. They are unique and contain genre scenes of everyday life – markets, fishing, festivals with cockfights and jugglers and so on and historical scenes with battles and processions. The bas-reliefs are more deeply carved than at Angkor Wat, but the representation is less stylized. The scenes are presented mostly in tow or three horizontal panels. The lowers one, with an unawareness of the laws of perspective, shows the foreground, whereas the upper tier presents scenes of the horizon. They both exhibit a wealth of creativity. Descriptions of the bas-reliefs in this guide follow the normal route for viewing the Bayon. They begin in the middle of the east gallery and continue clockwise. Visitors should keep the monument on their right.

Preah Ngok
Preah Ngok is north of the Bayon. It features a large sandstone statue of the Buddha sitting crossed leg with its eyes opened only slightly. From the 13th to 15th centuries, it was one of the Buddhist temples in Angkor area.

Preah Ang Kork Thlork
Preah Ang Kork Thlork or Wat Kork Thlok is located west of Bayon temple. According Khmer legend, Kork Thlok was the first name of Cambodia. An Indian man named Preah Thaong was banished from his country. He threw a javelin to determine where he would live. His javelin landed on Kork Thlok Island. So he went to the island, where he met Neang Neak, whom he married. Neang Neak’s father, a sea naga king, inspired the sea and created a country that is known today as Cambodia.

Baphuon Temple
Baphuon temple is west of the road to the Dei Chhnang Gate and near the Bayon temple. The temple was built in the 11th century, around 1060, by King Udayadityavarman II (AD 1050-1066), dedicating to Brahmanism. A highlight of the temple is the bas-reliefs, which differ from most others as they are vignettes carved in small stone squares set one above the other on the temple walls, similar to tiling. Unfortunately few of these are visible because of the poor state of the temple.

Baphuon is a single temple-mountain sanctuary situated on a high base symbolizing Mount Meru. A rectangular sandstone wall measuring 425 by 125 meter encloses the temple. A special feature is the 200 meters long elevated eastern approach supported by three rows of short, round columns forming a bridge to the main temple. Originally, a central tower shrine with four porches crowned the peak, but it collapsed long ago. The first, second and third levels are surrounded by concentric sandstone galleries.

Phimeanakas Temple
Phimeanakas temple is south of Baphuon temple, within the confines of the Royal Palace. The temple was built in the late 10th and early 11th centuries by three different kings – King Rajendravarman, King Jayavarman V and King Suryavarman I. It was the temple where the king worshipped. The temple was originally known as Hemasrngagiri which means gold. It must originally have been crowned with a golden pinnacle, as Chinese emissary Zhou Daguan described it as the Tower of gold. It is small compared to others, but even so, it has appeal and is situated in idyllic surroundings.

The single sanctuary stands on the base with three laterite tiers and is approached by four steep stairways, one on each side. These stairways are framed by walls with six projections – two per step – decorated with lions. Elephants one stood on sandstone pedestals in the corners of the base, but today they are mostly broken.

This temple is associated with a legend that tells of a gold tower inside the royal palace of Angkor  the Great, where a serpent-spirit with nine heads lived. The spirit appeared to the Khmer king disguised as a woman and the king had to sleep with her every night in the tower before he joined his wives and concubines in another part of palace. If the king missed even one night it was believed he would die. In this way the royal lineage of the Khmers was perpetuated.

To the north of Phimeanakas, there are two ponds that were part of the Royal Palace compound. The smaller and deeper pond, known as Srah Srei or the women’s bath, while the other larger pond known as Srah Pros or the men’s bath.

Royal Palace
Royal Palace is situated at the heart of the city of Angkor Thom, the Royal Palace area is distinguished by two terraces that parallel the road. Evidence of the Royal Palace itself is illusive because only the stone substructure remains. Like much of Angkor Thom, the residences of the king, and those who worked in the palace, were built of wood and have disintegrated, leaving no traces.

Terrace of the Elephants
The Terrace of the Elephants is located directly in front of the east gopura of the Royal Palace rampart. The terrace was built in late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. One of the main attractions of this terrace is the façade decorated with elephants and their riders depicted in profile. The elephants are using their trunks to hunt and fight while tigers claw at them.

The Terrace of the Elephants extends over 300 meters long from the Baphuon to the Terrace of the Leper King. It has three main platforms and two subsidiary ones. The south stairway is framed with three-headed elephants gathering lotus flowers with their trunks which form columns. The central stairway is decorated by lions and garudas in bas-reliefs in a stance of support for the stairway. Several projections above are marked by lions and naga balustrades with garudas flanking the dais. The terrace has two levels sacred geese carved along its based for wooden pavilions which were highlighted with gold.

At the northern end of the platform behind the outer wall, a large horse with five head sculpted in high relief stands on each side at the base of the inner retaining wall. The horse is an exceptional piece of sculpture, lively and remarkably worked. It is the horse of a king, as indicated by the tiered umbrellas over his head, it is surrounding by apsaras and menacing demons armed with sticks in pursuit of several people earing terrified expressions. Some believe this is a representation of Avalokiteshvara in the form of the divine horse Balaha.

Terrace of the Leper King
The Terrace of the Leper King is located on the way from the Bayon temple to the Dei Chhnang Gate on the left and north of Terrace of the Elephants. It was built in late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. The curious name of this terrace refers to a statue of the Leper King that is on the platform of the terrace. The naked figure is depicted in a seat position with his right knee raised. Today statue is a copy. The original is in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

Who was the Leper King? Mystery and uncertainty surround the origin of the name. The long-held theory that king Jayavarman VII was a leper and that is why he built so many hospitals throughout the empire has no historical support whatsoever. Some historians think the figure represents Kubera, god of wealth, or Yasovarman I, both of whom were allegedly lepers. Another idea is based on an inscription that appears on the statue in characters of the 14th or 15th centuries which maybe translated as the equivalent of the assessor of Yama, god of death or of judgment. Yet anothertheory suggests that the leper King statue got it name because of the lichen which grown on it. The position of the hand, now missing, also suggests it was holding something.

The terrace of Leper King is supported by a base 25 meters on each side and 6 meters high. The sides of the laterite base are faced in sandstone and decorated with bas-reliefs divided into seven horizontal registers. The exterior wall contain mythical beings – nagas, garudas, and giants with multiple arms, carriers of swords and clubs, and seated women with naked torsos and triangular coiffures with small flaming discs – adorn the walls of the terrace. The interior wall is remarkable condition. The deeply carved senses are similar to those on the exterior and include a low frieze of fish, elephants and the vertical representation of a river.

Tep Pranom Temple
Tep Pranom is located northwest of the Terrace of the Leper King. The temple was built in the reign of King Yasovarman I. Parts of the temple were built different times ranging from the late 9th to 13th centuries. The site was originally a Buddhist monastrery associated with King Yasovarman in the late 9th century.

The entrance to the temple is marked by a laterite causeway bordered by double boundary stones at the corners and a cruciform terrace. The sandstone walls of the base of the terrace have a molded edging. Two lions preceded the walls and are in 13th century art style. The naga balustrades are probably 12th century, whereas the two lions preceding the terrace at the east are Bayon style. Tep Pranom once housed a statue of a kneeling Buddha on a lotus pedestal with a molded base and coated in sandstone, called Tep Pranom, but the statue is no longer there.

In addition, a hermitage built in the 9th century during the reign of King Yasovarman can be found south of Yasodharatataka, East Baray. The statue and the hermitage are an indication that Buddhism had already been introduced to Cambodia by that time.

Palilay Temple
Palilay temple is located north of Phimeanakas temple and behind Tep Pranom. The temple was built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII’s father, King Dharanindravarman (AD 11550-1160), who was a Buddhist. The temple’s lintels and pediments lying on the ground afford a rare opportunity to see relief at eye level. Many depict Buddhist scenes with Brahmanism divinities.

Only the central sanctuary remains intact. The sandstone tower opens on four sides, each one with a porch. The tower stands on a base with three tiers intercepted by stairs on each side. The upper portion is collapsed and a truncated pyramid forms a cone which is filled with reused stones. The principle feature of interest at this temple is the Buddhist scenes on the frontons. They are some of the few that escaped defacement in the 15th century. The scenes depicted are: east, a reclining Buddha reaching nirvana, south, a seated Buddha, which is especially beautiful in the mid-morning sun, north, a standing Buddha with his hand resting on an elephant.

Preah Pithu Temples
Preah Pithu is a group of temples located northeast of the Terrace of the Leper King. Studies of their style indicate that all except one are Brahman temples built during the 12th century by King Suryavarman II. The lone Buddhist temple, built sometime between the 13th and 16th centuries, has many Buddha bas-reliefs and other signs related to Buddhism. Most of the structures are in poor condition, but their bases remain and, from the evidence, the temples were of excellent quality in design, workmanship and decoration. Preah Pithu temples consists of two cruciform terraces and five sanctuaries situated in seemingly random order amongst ramparts, moats and ponds. All the shrines are square with false door, stand on a raised platform and are oriented to the east.

Suor Proat Temple
Suor Proat temple is located at the beginning of the road leading to the Victory Gate, in front of the Royal Palace. The temple was built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII and features a row of 12 century by King Jayavarman VII and features a row of 12 square laterite and sandstone towers, six on one either side of the road leading to the Victory Gate.

The two towers closest to the road are set back slightly from the others. The towers have an unusual feature of windows with balusters on three sides. Entrance porches open toward the west onto the parade ground. The interior of each tower has two levels and on the upper one there is a cylindrical vault with two frontons. The frames, bays and lintels were made of sandstone.

According to a Cambodian legend, the towers served as anchoring places for ropes which stretched from one to another for acrobats performing at festivals, while the king observed the performances from one of the terraces. This activity is reflected in the name of the towers. Zhou Daguan wrote about the entirely different purpose of the towers in describing a method of settling disputes between men. Some think that they may have served as alter for each province on the occasion of taking the oath of loyalty to the king.

North and South Kliang temples
The North and West Kliang are located behind Sour Proat temple and facing the Terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. These sandstone temples were built in the late 10th and early 11th centuries by King Jayavarman V and King Suryavarman I.

The temples consist of a pair of large sandstone façade that look quite grand against a jungle background. They are similar in time, layout, style and decoration, although inscriptions suggest that the South Kliang was built slightly later than the north one. Some scholars believe the name storehouse  is inappropriate for these temples and suggest they may have been reception halls for receiving foreign degnitaries.

The workmanship of the architecture and decoration of North Kliang is more carefully executed than that of the South Kliang. To the rear of the North Kliang there is a laterite wall with high level horizontal windows which encloses smaller halls in the courtyard. The long rectangular structure of South Kliang, however is unfinished, but it stands on a molded platform. The interior decoration is limited to a frieze under the cornice.

Vihear Prampi Lveng
Vihear Prampi Lveng is south of the Victory Gate. Originally, the temple had a statue of Buddha protected by a naga, but the statue was removed and later discovered 1933 at the Bayon temple. In 1935, King Sisowath Monivong returned the statue to Vihear Prampi Lveng. The temple was given its name because there are seven sections from the entrance to the place where the statue is kept.

Mongkul Leat Temple
Mongkul Leat temple is in the forest, about 900 meters south of the Victory Gate. This sandstone temple was built between the late 13th and early 14th centuries. According the temple inscription, the temple was dedicated to a Brahman named Chey Mongkul Leat and to his mother. Chey Mongkul Leat was a teacher of King krintravarman.

Wat Tang Tok
Wat Tang Tok is located north of the Victory Gate and east of Suor Proat temple. Tang Tok is a royal term that refers to occasions when the King prepares an exhibition of handicrafts or agricultural products for the people. Known  for many years by local people as Wat Tang Tok, the name of the temple has been changed to Preah Ang Sang Tuk by they Angkor conservative group, according to the monk head of the pagoda. He did not know the reason for the change.

Top Temple
Top temple is located west of Bayon temple, midway to Ta Kao Gate. The temple is made of sandstone and faces east. The lintel and pillars of south door made of pink sandstone in the 10th century was influenced by the style of Banteay Srei. This temple was first a place of worship for Brahmans and later by Buddhists. Today the word Top can be used in Khmer language to refer to something small, low or in a small group.

Wat Preah Indra Tep
Wat Preah Indra Tep is a Buddhist temple located south of Bayon temple. Preah Indra Tep is a name of Preah Indra.

Temple at Vong Toch (Small Circuit)
The temples at Vong Toch include the temples along the road from the Victory Gate to the East Gate of Angkor Wat.
Thommanon Temple

Thommanon temple is about 500 meters east of the Victory Gate. A temple dedicated to Brahmanism, it was built in the late 11th and early 12th centuries by King Sryavarman II. The temple is rectangular in plan with a sanctuary opening to the east, a moat and a rampart with two gopuras, one on the east and another on the west, and one library near the south-east of the wall. Only traced of a laterite base of the wall remain.

Chao Say Tevada Temple
Chao Say Tevada temple is south of Thommanon temple. The temple was built in the late 11th and early 12th centuries by King Suryavarman II, dedicating to Brahmanism. Chao Say Tevada and Thommanon temples are two small monuments framed by the jungle that stand across the road from each other. Because of similarities in plan and form they are often referred to as the brother-sister temple. Chao Say Tevada has deteriorated more than Thommanon.

Ta Keo Temple
Ta Keo temple is located east of Thommanon and Chao Say Tevoda  on the east of bank of Stung Siem Reap. The temple was built in the late 10th to early 12th centuries by King Jayavarman V and Suryavarman I, dedicating to Shiva Brahmanism. Had it been finished, Ta Keo, undoubtedly, would have been one of the finest temples at Angkor.

The temple rises to a height of 22 meters to the sky, giving an impression of strength and power. An innovation at Ta Keo is a porch at each cardinal point on the five towers of the top level. A gallery was situated on a second base and hand a roof of brick which I snow destroyed. Enormous blocks of feldspathic wacke – a very hard to carve, greenish – grey sandstone – were cut to a regular size and placed in position. This absence of decoration gives it simplicity of design that separates it from other temple.

Ta Keo temple is a replica of Mount Meru with a rectangular plan and five square towers arranged in a quincunx, standing majestically on a finely molded three-tiered pedestal that is 12 meters high. Long rectangular halls on both levels probably sheltered pilgrims. Two libraries on the east side of the platform open to the west. The upper platform is square and stands on three diminishing tiers with stairways on each side. Most of the space on the upper level is occupied by the five towers, all unfinished, opening to the four cardinal points. The central sanctuary dominates the layout which is given further importance by the development of porches.

Chapel of the Hospital
The chapel of the hospital is west of Ta Keo temple and Spean Thma, on the west side of the road just over the bridge across Stung Siem Reap. The chapel was built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. An inscription found in the area confirms the identity of this site as one of the chapels of the 102 hospitals built by the King. The central sanctuary is cruciform-shaped opening to east with false door on the other three sides. Female divinities adorn the exterior and a scroll surrounds the base of the tower. The pediments are decorated with images of the Buddha.

Spean Thma
Spean Thma is about 100 meters west of Ta Keo temple. It is a bridge constructed of reused blocks of sandstone of varying shapes and sizes, which suggests it was built to replace an earlier bridge. The bridge is supported on massive pillars, the opening between them spanned by narrow corbelled arches. Reportedly, there are traces of 14 arches.

Taney Temple
Taney temple is located in the forest, about 800 meters east of Ta Keo temple. It is accessible by small truck or vehicle. The temple was built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarmann VII. The original name of the temple is not known, but according to the local people, the name may have come from an old man named Ney who cared for the temple. This explanation is plausible, because most of the temples at Angkor are not called by their original names.

Top Temple
Top temple is located in the forest northwest of Takeo temple near Ta Prohm temple. Like Ta Keo temple, Top Temple is constructed of large sandstones.

Ta Prohm Temple
Ta Prohm temple is located about 1 kilometer east of the Victory Gate, southeast of Ta Keo temple. Its rampart is near the northwest corner of the rampart of banteay Kdey temple. The temple was built in AD 1186 by King Jayavarman VII, dedicating to his mother. Shrouded in jungle, Ta Prohm temple is ethereal in aspect and conjures up a romantic aura. Trunks of trees twist amongst stone pillars. Fig, Bayan and Kapok tree spread their gigantic roots over, under and in between the stones, probing walls and terraces apart, as their branches and leaves intertwine to form a roof above the structures.

The Sanskrit inscription on stone tells something about its size and function. Ta Prohm owned 3140 villages. It took 79365 people to maintain the temple including 18 high priests, 2740 officials, 2202 assistants and 615 dancers. Among the property belonging to the temples was a set of golden dishes weighing more than 500 kilogram, 35 diamonds, 40620 pearls, 4540 precious stones, 876 veils from China, 512 silk beds and 523 parasols.

The monastic complex of Ta Prohm is a series of long, low building standing on one level connected with passages and concentric galleries framing the main sanctuary. A rectangular, laterite wall, which is 700 by 1000 meters enclose the entire complex. The east entrance is signaled by a gopura in the outer rampart of the temple. There is a sandstone hall just north of the gopura known as the Hall of Dancers which is distinguished by large, square pillars. The central sanctuary itself is easy to miss and stands out because of its absence of decoration. The stone ahs been hammered, possibly to prepare it for covering stucco and gilding, which has since fallen off. This accounts for the plainness of the walls of this important shrine. Evenly spaced holes on the inner walls of the central sanctuary suggest they were originally covered with metal sheets.

Banteay Kdey Temple
Banteay Kdey temple is located southeast of Ta Prohm. The temple was built in the latter half of the 12th and early 13th centuries by King Jayavarman VII. The temple is similar in art and architecture of Ta Prohm, but it is smaller and less complex. It is unknown to who this temple was dedicated as the inscription stone has never been found.

According to archaeologists, the original basic plan of the temple including a central sanctuary, a surrounding gallery and a passageway connected to another gallery. Amoat enclosed the temple, another rampart which is 700 by 500 meters is made of laterite and has four gopuras in the Bayon style, each with four faces looking in the cardinal directions, and garudas placed at the corners of each gopura, a favorite design of King Jayavarman VII. These gopuras are of the same style as those at Ta Prohm.

Research conducted by the University of Sofia has indicated that this temple was built on another older temple, as evidenced by a foundation base found under Banteay Kdey temple. Archeologists believe the foundation may be related to Kod village during the reign of King Jayaavarman II.

Srah Srang
Srah Srang is located face to face with Banteay Kdey temple. It, too, was built in late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. It is a large lake which is 700 by 300 metrs with an elegant lading terrace of superb proportion and scale. It is pleasant spot to sit and look out over the surrounding plain. Srah Srang always has water and is surrounded by greenery. It is built of laterite with sandstone moldings.

The platform is of cruciform shape with naga balustrades flanked by two lions. At the front there is an enormous garuda riding a three-headed naga. At the back this is a mythical creature comprising a three-headed naga, the lower portion of a garuda and a stylized tail decorated with small naga heads. The body of the naga rests on a dais supported by mythical monsters.

Kodku Temple
Kodku temple is located in Rohal village, west of North Srah Srang village, east of Ta Prohm and north of Banteay Kdey temples. Shrouded in jungle, the temple features three brick towers that face east. According to the inscription discovered in 1930, the temple was originally built in the 9th century, during reign of King Jayavarman II. It was later reconstructed in the 10th century, during the reign of King Rajendravarman.

Kravan Temple
Kravan temple is located east of Angkkor Wat and south of Banteay Kdei. The temple was built in 921 during the reign of King Harshavarman I (AD 910-923), dedicating to Vishnu Brahmanism. It may have been built by high court officials. Although this temple looks small and somewhat undistinguished from the outside, it contains some remarkable brick sculptures on its interior walls which stand alone as unique examples in Khmer art. The interiors of two of the five towers have sculptures depicting Vishnu and his consort, Lakshmi, the scene in the central tower is the most impressive, but both are exceptional in stature and quality of workmanship. The five brick towers are in a row on one platform which is decorated with carved, sandstone, lintels and columns. All of the towers open to the east.

Batchum Temple
Batchum temple is located about 300 meters south of Srah Srang. It is accessible by Beung Mealir ancient road, which is located north of Kravan village. Constructed of brick, the temple has three towers that face east. According to the inscription, the temple was built by a Buddhist officer named Kavey Treanrimthon during the reign of Rajendravarman, who crowned in AD 944. According to the inscription written in AD 953, the temple was originally called Saok Takrum. It is now called Batchum.

Temples at Vong Thom (Grand Circuit)
The temples at Vong Thom include the temples along the road from Srah Srong to Dey Chhang Gate.
Pre Rup temple
Pre Rub temple is about 2 kilometers northeast of Srah Srang and about 500 meters south of the Eat Baray. The temple was built in 961 during the reign of King Rajendravarman, dedicating to Shiva Brahmanism. The boldness of the architectural design is superb and gives the temple fine balance, scale and proportion. The temple is close in style to the East Mebon, although it was built several years later. It is a temple-mountain symbolizing Mount Meru.

Up until now, Cambodians regards this temple as having funerary association, but its true function is uncertain. Nevertheless, the name Pre Rup recalls one of the rituals of cremation, in which the silhouette of the body of the deceased, outlined with its ashes, is successively represented according to different orientations. Some archaeologists believe that the large vat located at the base of the east stairway to the central area was used at cremations.

Constructed of laterite with brick towers, the plan is square and comprises two ramparts with gopuras placed centrally in each wall. A platform of three narrow tiers serves as a pedestal for five towers, which are set out in quincunx – one in each corner and one in the center. The outer rampart is 127 by 116 meters. Within the out laterite rampart there are two groups of three towers on each side of the entrance, the groups share a common base. Long halls are placed between the two ramparts. In the northeast corner there is a curious small square building built of large blocks of laterite and open on all four sides. The inscription describing the foundation of the temple wasp found near this building. On the left and right sides of the east gopura of the second rampart there are libraries with high towers. They sheltered carved stones with motifs of the nine planets and the seven ascetics. In the center there is a vat between two rows of sandstone pillars. This platform was more likely to have been a base for a wooden structure or a platform for Shiva’s mount Nandi.

Top Temple
Top temple is located about 500 meters south of Pre Rup temple and north of Bor Em village. According to old villagers, particularly those in Pradak commune, this temple was originally call Dmkok Sob, as related to the story of King Trasok Paem.

Leak Neang Temple
Leak Neang temple is located near the northwest part of Pre Rup temple, about 100 meters east of the entrance to Ta Prey village. Constructed of brick, the temple faces east.  It was built in the second half of the 10th century in AD 960, by King Rajendravarman.

East Mebon Temple
East Mebon temple is about 500 meters northeast of Pre Rup temple. The temple was built in AD 952 by King Rajendravarman. The temple is similar to Pre Rup in plan, construction and decoration. A major difference, however, is that the East Mebon once stood on a small island in the middle of Yasodharatataka (the East Baray). The only access was by boat to one of the four landing platforms, situated at the mid-points on each of the four sides of the temple. The decoration on the lintels of the temple is superior in quality of workmanship and composition to that of Pre Rup. The motifs on the false doors, with small mythical figures frolicking amongst foliage, are particularly fine.

Ta Som Temple
Ta Som temple is located east of Neak Pean . It was built in early 13th century by King Jayavarman VII, dedicating to his father. A significant feature of Ta Som is the growth of a huge ficus tree on the east gopura, which provides a dramatic example of nature and art entwined. The temple is a single shrine on one level surrounded by three laterite ramparts. The superstructure are carved with four faced. The main tower is cruciform shaped with four porches.

Kraol Ko Temple
Kraol Ko temple is located north of Neak Pean about 900 meters off the right side of the road. This temple was built in late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. The main point of interest of the temple is the frontons on the ground. Two outstanding examples depict a Bodhisattva Avalokiteshavar standing on a lotus, flanked by devotees, and a strongly modeled scene of Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana to shelter the shepherds. The temple is a single tower surrounded by tow laterite ramplarts with a gopura at the east and a moat enclosing it with steps leading down to the water. A library built of laterite and sandstone opening to the south I son the left of the interior courtyard. The central sanctuary stands on cruciform terrace.

Neak Pean Temple
Neak Pean temple is located east of Preah Khan and about 300 meters off the road. The temple is in the center of Jayatataka or Northern Baray and placed on the same axis as Preah Khan. It was built in the second half of the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. The temple seems to have served as a place where pilgrims could go and take the waters, both physically and symbolically – the Khmer equivalent of a spa.

The central pond is a replica of Lake Anavatapta in the Himalayas, situated at the top of the universe, which gives birth to the four great rivers of the earth. These rivers are represented at Neak Pean by sculpted gargoyles corresponding to the four cardinal points. Neak Pean was probably consecrated to the Buddha coming to the glory of enlightenment.

Neak Pean temple is set in a large, square, man-made pond which is 70 meters square bordered by steps and surrounded by four smaller square bordered by steps and surrounded by four smaller square ponds. A small circular island, with a steeped base of seven laterite tiers, is in the center of the large square pond, and forms the base for the shrine dedicated to Avalokitshavara. Small elephants sculpted in the round originally stood on the four corners of the pond.

The bodies of two nagas encircle the base of the island and their tails entwine on the west side which give the temple name. The heads of the nagas are separated to allow passage on the east. A blooming lotus surrounds the top of the platform, while lotus petals decorate the base. The central sanctuary is cruciform shaped, stands on two recessed levels, opens to the east and is crowned with a lotus. The three other false doors are decorated with large image of Avalo  Kiteshvara. The fronton depict episodes of the life of the Buddha – the cutting of the hair (east), the great departure (north), Buddha in meditation protected by a Naga (west)

The principal feature in the pond of the central sanctuary is a three-dimensional sculpted horse swimming towards the east with figures clinging to its sides. The horse, Balaha, is a manifestation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who has ttransformed himself into a horse to rescue Simhala, a merchant, and his companions of misfortune. They were ship-wrecked on an island off Sri Lanka and snatched by female ogresses. The victims are holding on to the horse’s tail in the hope of being carried ashore safely.

There are four small chambers which have vaulted roofs and back onto the main pond, then open onto four small ponds with steps leading to the water. The interior of the vault is decorated with panels of lotus and a central waterspout in the form of an animal or human in the center. The four building served a ceremonial function, where pilgrims could absolve themselves of their sins. They anointed themselves with lustral water, which flowed from the spout connected to the central pond. Each water spout is different – elephant head (north, human head (east), lion (south) and horse (west). The human head is of exceptionally fine quality workmanship and was coined the Lord of Men.

Preah Khan Temple
Preah Khan temple is located 2 kilometers north-east of Angkor Thom on the Grand Circuit. The temple was built in the second half of the 12th century in AD 1191 by King Jayavarman VII, dedicating to his father Dharanindravarman. The Buddhist complex covers 56 hectares served as the nucleus of a group that includes Neak Pean and Ta Som, located 4 kilometers long Jayatataka Baray – the last of the great reservoirs to be built in Angkor. The inscription indicates that Preah Khan was built on the battle site where King Jayavarman VII finally defeated the Chams. In those days it was known as Nagarajayacri which mean the city of Preah Khan.

Four concentric ramparts subdivide Preah Khan. The outer of fourth wall, which is encircled by a wide moat, today encloses a large tract of jungle, formerly the living quarters of the monks, students and attendants of Preah Khan. The second rampart delineated the principle religious compound of about four hectares within which there is a dense concentration of temple and shrines. The central complex is Buddhist. The northern and western sectors are dedicated to Brahmanism – Vishnu (west) and Shiva (north), whilst the southern sector is a place of ancestor worship. The eastern sector forms the grand entrance to the central shrine.

A place for a king located near Preah Khan temple is called Veal Reacheak or Preah Reachea Dak. It is 1500 meters long and 1200 meters wide. Nearby about 700 meters north of Preah Khan temple along the road to Angkor Thom district is another small temple called Ptu. The temple was made of laterite.

Prey Temple
Prey temple is located on the right of the road, about 40 meters from the northwest corner of Preah Khan temple. The temple, made of sandstone, faces east. It was built in late 12th and early 13th centuries by King Jayavarman VII. The word Prey is used for many temples built in the forests. For example, there is a temple west of Angkor Krao village that is also called Prey temple, and another temple south of East Baray, near Banteay Samre, is called Prey Prasat. Many temple inscriptions use the word Verey. The word means the same as Prey.

Banteay Prey Temple
Banteay Prey temple is located about 100 meters north of Prey temple. The temple was built about the same time as Prey temple, and the two temples share a similar design. The difference is, Banteay Prey has a rampart, whereas Prey temple does not. Ramparts are characteristic of temples called Banteay.

Kraol Romeas

Kraol Romeas temple is located in Bradak commune, O’Toteung village north of the East Baray about 500 meters southwest of Dey chhnang Gate, about 60 meters east of the Vong Thom, or the grand circuit. According to local people, this temple once housed rhinoceroses. Built next to the Baray dam, the wall-like structure is 98 meters long and 40 meters wide. It has double walls made of the laterite stone and a staircase on the north side that connects to the dam.

Tonel Snguot temple

Tonle Sgnuot temple is located in Agnkor Krao village, about 500 meters north of the Dei Chhnang Gate. This temple is made of sandstone and has a tower that faces east. The temple was built in the late 12th and early 13th  centuries, during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. This temple is built on square lowland south of Angkor Thom moat.

- Other Temples

Prey Prasat Temple
Prey Prasat temple is located about 800 meter southwest of the Angkor Thom Rampart and west of Angkor Krao village. The sandstone temple faces east. Its architecture and carvings suggest that it was built in Bayon style during the reign of King Jafyavarman VII. The name Prey Prasat refers to a temple that is covered by or surrounded by forest. People living in Angkor Krao Village also call it Kork Prasat.

Banteay Thom Temple
Banteay Thom templeis located about 2 kilometers north of Angkor Krao village. It is made of sandstone and has three towers that face east. Like Prey Prasat, its carvings and decorations suggest that Banteay Thom was built during the reign of Jayavarman VII. The name Banteay Thom refers to a temple surrounded by a great rampart. The rampart, made of laterite, is 130 meters long and 3 meters high. Inside this temple is another gallery surrounded by a large moat.

Tur Temple
Tur temple is northeast of East Baray. It has two brick towers that face east and an inscription about the natural irrigation in Sanskrit. Local people call this temple Tur. This place once was a dam to old back water that flowed from Phnom Kulen. The dam was closed in 1975. There is a Sanskrit inscription that tells about the irrigation.

West Baray
West Baray is the largest man-made body of water at Angkor. Visitors can hire a boat to take them to the island in the middle where West Mebon temple once stood. Today, only traces of it remain. But the island is a pleasant spot for a picnic or just walking around when water level is low. Alternatively, visitor can also go for a refreshing swim.

As the temple in the middle is in the same style as Baphuon, the Baray was probably constructed in the 11th century. The east dyke leads to Ba Kheng temple. Some historians believed that the West Baray could have been a mooring place for the royal barges as well as a reservoir and a place for breeding fish.

The West Baray is a vast man-made lake, surrounded by an earthen levee which forms a dyke. According to legend, the young daughter of a ruler of Angkor was grabble by an enormous crocodile, which made a large opening in the south dyke of the West Baray that can still be seen today. The crocodile was capture and killed. The princess, still living in its stomach, was rescued.

West Mebon Temple
West Mebon temple is located in the middle of West Baray on an island about 11 kilometers northwest of Siem Reap. The temple was built in the second half of the 11th century by King Suryavarman I, dedicating to Vishu Brahmanism. It was originally surrounded by a square rampart with three square, standstone gopuras and a sanctuary on sanctuary on one level crowned with a lotus. Most towers have collapsed, but the three on the east side are reasonable intact. A sandstone that leads to the east dyke. The sides of the towers are carved with lively animals set in small squares, a type of decoration found also at the Baphuon.

Ak Yum Temple
Ak Yum Temple is located southern end of the West Baray. The temple was built between 7th and 9th centuries. The inscriptions found on pillars give the date of AD 609, 704 and 1001 from Ak Yum temple. Evidence of a lingam and some sacred depository has also been found. During the construction of the West Baray this site was partially buried by the south levee of the Baray.

The temple was built on three levels standing on a platform and enclosed by a brick wall. The monument was built of brick with sandstone bays. Four shrines occupied the corners of the second tier and two others stood on each side, making a total of twelve shrines. The central sanctuary was on the uppermost tier and opened to the east with false doors on the other three sides. Post holes are still visible and were probably used to support a wooden framework for the monument.

Wat Preah Indra Kaosey
Wat Preah Indra Kaosey is located south of Siem Reap provincial town, near the riverside and east of the provincial Department of Angkor Conservation. This brick temple once had three towers that faced east, but only two of the towers are still standing today. Indra Kaosey is the name of Preah Indra, which means harmony and wealthy.

Banteay Samre Temple
Banteay Samre temple is about 400 meters east of East Baray, about 2 kilometers from Pradak village and south of the road from Pradak to Phnom Bok. The temple was built in the middle of the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, dedicating to Visnu Brahmanism. The proportions of Banteay Samre are splendid. A unique feature is an interior moat with laterite paving, which when filled with water must have given an ethereal atmosphere to the temple. All of the structures around the moat are on a raised base with horizontal moldings, decorated in some areas with figures framed by lotus buds.

The plan of the temple is roughly square and consists of a laterite rampart with four gopuras. Behind the wall, overlooking the enclosed moat, are gopuras on each side. The central courtyard contains the main sanctuary, which has four wings and is approached by a long hall with libraries on each side. The laterite, paved causeway is 200 meters which leads to the east gopura providing access through the outer rampart of the monument. The causeway, on two levels is bordered on each side by naga balustrades in the style of Angkor Wat, of which only vestiges remain. The end of the causeway leads to a stairway flanked by crouching lions on short columns. This long and dramatic causeway was probably covered with a wooden roof.

Phnom Bok
Phnom Bok is northeast of East Baray. On this mountain stands a sandstone temple with three towers. It was built in the late 9th and early 10th  centuries during the reign of King Yasovarman I. The mountain is called Phnom Bok, but no one knows from where the name came.

Near the foot of Phnom Bok is Top temple. Heavily damaged over time, this temple was made of brick. Its original name was Trapiang Chambok. Another temple at the foot of Phnom Bok is called Leak Neang. It is made of brick and has three towers, but only one is still in good condition. There is also a pond in front of the temple. The temple was once called Chhuk Temple, but it now is known as Leak Neang temple.

Banteay Srei Temple
Banteay Srei temple is located in Banteay Srei village, Banteay Srei commune, Banteay Srei district, about 32 kilometers from Siem Reap provincial town. The temple was built in the second half of the 10th century during the reign of King Rajendravarman and King Jayavarman V, dedicating to Brahmanism.

The special charm of this temple lies in its remarkable state of preservation, small size and excellence of decoration. Some unanimous archaeologists say that Banteay Srei is a precious gem and a jewel in Khmer art.

Banteay Srei, as it is known by locals, was originally called Isvarapura, according to inscription. It was built by a Brahmin of royal descent who was spiritual teacher to King Jayavarman V. A special feature of the exquisite decoration was the use of hard pink sandstone (quartz arenite) which enabled the technique of sandalwood carving.

Architectural and decorative feature of Banteay Srei are unique and exceptionally fine. A tapestry-like background of foliage covers the walls of the structures in the central group as if a deliberate attempt has been made to leave no space undecorated.

The architecture is distinguished by triple superimposed frontons with relief narrative scenes carved in the tympanums, terminal motifs on the frames of the arches, and standing figure in the niches. Panels are decorated with scenes inspired by epic Ream Ke and its execution has a liveliness not seen in the more formal decoration of earlier temples. Compared to the rest of Angkor this is in miniature. The doors of the central towers are narrow and barely one and a half meters high. The quality of architecture and decoration make up for any shortcomings in size.

The temple is rectangular in plan and enclosed by three ramparts and a moat. Only two of the ramparts are visible. The central area of the temple is the most important and the most beautiful. It is surrounded by a brick rampart that has almost entirely collapsed. However, there are remnants on either side of the east gopura. There are two libraries on each side of the walkway in the central courtyard opening to the west.

The three shrines arranged side by side in a north to south line standing on a common, low platform and opening to the east. The principle shrine in the central contained Shiva lingam, the shrine on the  south was dedicated to Brahma, whereas the one on the north honors Vishnu. All  three central shrines are of a simple form with a superstructure comprising four tiers, decorated with miniature replicas of the main shrine which symbolize the dwelling of the gods. The shrines are guarded by sculptures of mythical figure with human torsos and animal heads kneeling at the based of the stairs leading to the entrance. Most of these figures are copies; the originals have been removed for safe-keeping.

Kbal Spean
Kbal Spean lies 50 kilometers northeast of Siem Reap provincial town or about 18 kilometers from Banteay Srei on a dirt road. It takes from one to two hours to get there from the provincial town.

The original River of Thousand Lingams, Kbal Spean is an intricately carved riverbed deep in the foothills of the Cambodian jungle. Lingams are phallic representations sacred to Brahmanism as symbols of fertility, and hundreds of them are carved into the rock here, as are several carvings of gods and animals above the small waterfall. The area was rediscovered in 1969, when French researcher Jean Boulbet was shown the carvings by a local hermit.

A visit to Kbal Spean, a reference to the natural rock bridge, is one of the easiest ways to take a short jungle trek in the Angkor area. It is a 30 minute walk to the carvings through steamy forest and some curious rock formations. It is best to try to visit between July and December, at other times of year the river rapidly dries up. The access to the trail is not permitted after 3:30pm. Food and drinks are available at the base of the trail.

Beung Mealea Temple
Beung Mealea temple lies at the foot of Phnom Kulen’s eastern extreme, about 70 kilometers from Siem Reap provincial town. It takes two to three hours to get there via either Banteay Srei or Dam Dek on National Road 6. It is the most accessible of Angkor’s lost temples, a mirror image of the mighty Angkor Wat, but totally and utterly consumed by the jungle. Constructed by King Suryavarman II (AD 1113-1150), the builder of Angkor Wat, nature has triumphed here, and it is hard to get a sense of the monument’s shape amid the daunting ruins. Like Angkor Wat, Beung Mealea was enclosed by a large moat, which would have measured 1200 by 900 meters. Once inside the complex, visitors climb over heaps of stones, edge along dark and damp corridors and throught dense foliage – this is not one for the fainthearted. The atmosphere, however, is something special.

Beung Mealea can be combined with a visit to Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean or Phnom Kulen. Food and drinks are available near the temple.

Phnom Kulen
Phnom Kulen is in Svay Leu and Varin district, about 60 kilometers from Siem reap provincial town and about 25 kilometers from Banteay Srei. Phnom Kulen, originally called Mount Mahendraparvata, is the holy mountain where, when King Jayavarman II (AD 802-850) proclaimed independence from Java in 802 , the Angkorian Empire was born.

This mountain plateau served as the capital of the first Khmer Empire for more than half a century before it relocated south to Hariharalaya, known today as Rolous. As many as 20 minor temples are found around the plateau, including Rorng Chen temple, the first pyramind built by an Angkkorian King, but many of them are difficult to reach. Numerous important sites lie scattered across the mountaintop, which is accessible by foot or by car. They include:

Chub Preah
Chub Preah is a plain on the flank of the mountain. The cool water that flows between the rocks can refresh weary travelers before they continue their journey. Nearby is a large, rare Champa tree, 0.7 meters in diameter and 15 meters tall. The site also has a large Buddha statue and many small statues built in the 16 century.

1000 Lingams
One thousand lingams are located on the top of the mountain, along Stung Siem Reap. The site features impressive riverbed rock carvings include innumerable scores of yoni and lingam that sit on the bottom of a stream from which water flows year round.

Srah Damrey
Srah Damrey or the Elephant Pond is a collection of giant stone animals guarding this sacred mountain.

Terrace of the Leper King
Terrace of the Lepper King or Preah Learn Sdech Kunlung is a smooth, volcanic terrace. At the center of the terrace is a small brick temple that has been smashed to pieces. Based on the rocks they were found, scientists believe the site might have been a volcano millions of years ago.

Preah Ang Thom
Preah Ang Thom is located on the mountaintop and attracts Khmer pilgrims during religious festivals. Built in the 16th century, it features a large statues of the reclining Buddha reaching nirvana. The statue is 7.5 meters tall and 8 meters long, carved into a huge sandstone boulder. The site also offers spectacular views across lush jungle. There are two Champa trees at the site, and local people worship there because they believe the site holds great power. Preah Ang is close to Chhat Ruot, a multilayered umbrella, Preah Bat Choam Tuk, footprints of Buddha, and Peung Chhat, Peung Eyso and Peung Eysey, overhanging rocks.

Phnom Kulen Waterfall
Phnom Kulen waterfall farther downstream, is a good spot to cool off after explorations. It has two levels. The first level is 4 to 6 meters high and 10 to 15 meters wide, depending on whether it is the dry or rainy season. The second level is 15 to 20 meters high and 6 to 8 meters wide, depending on the season. Near the waterfall is a small jungle-coverred laterite temple called Kraol Romeas temple.

Roluos is the site of an ancient center of Khmer civilization known as Hariharalaya, located about 12 kilometers from Siem Reap provincial town. It includes three temple – Preah Kor, Bakong and Lolei. After King Jayavarman II established his capital on Phnom Kulen in AD 802 inaugurating the Angkor Period, soon afterward he moved the capital back to Roluos perhaps for a better source of food or for defense purpose. King Jayavarman II died at Rolous in AD 850. It is generally believed that his successors remained there until the capital was moved to Ba Kheng in AD 905.

The structures of the Rolous group are distinguished by tall, square-shaped, brick towers on low pedestals. They open to the east, with false doors on the other three sides. A rampart originally enclosed the temple although only traces remain today. The library is a rectangular building with a vaulted roof and frontons. A temple often has two libraries, one on each side of the gopura preceding the central sanctuary.

Preah Kor Temple
Preah Kor temple is located between Bakong and Lolei on the western side of the road to Bakong. The temple was built in 9th century by King Indravarman I (AD 877-889), dedicating to Shiva Brahmanism. It is also a funerary temple built for the King’s parents, maternal grandparents, and a previous king, Jayavarman II and his wife.

Originally square in plan and surrounded by three ramparts with gopuras, the complex seems small today because of the dilapidated state of the rampart. The outer rampart is 400 by 500 meters square with gopuras on the east and west sides. A small terrace which is largely destroyed precedes the laterite gopura at the east. Long halls or galleries parallel the middle rampart, two each at the east and west, and one each at the northeast and southeast. There are galleries with a porch opening to east on the north and south sides of the walkway. An unusual, square, brick structure stands between the long hall and the gallery at the south. The brick rampart inside has two gopuras at the east and directly opposite on the west.

Three images of Shiva’s mount Nandi are at the east of central area. Although only portions of the bulls remain, their original position can be discerned facing to the temple. The central area consists of brick towers set towards the east in two rows on a low platform. The shrine of Preah Ko are built near ground level – a typical feature of Khmer temple that are dedicated to ancestors. The central towers are square in plan with a porch in each of the cardinal directions. Each of six towers of the central group was covered with elaborate stucco.

Bakong Temple
Bakong temple is south of Preah Kor temple. It was also built by King Indravarman I in AD 881, dedicating to Shiva Brahmanism. The temple was the center of Hariharalaya city and was probably the state temple of King Indravarman.

It is a temple-mountain symbolizing the cosmic Mount Meru. Four levels leading to the central sanctuary extend the symbolism, and correspond to the worlds of mythical beings – nagas, garudas, rakasas, and yakshas. The fifth and top-most level is reserved for the gods – the levels represent the five cosmic levels of Mount Meru.

The temple is enclosed within two separate ramparts. The out rampart measure 900 by 700 meters. It surrounds a moat, and there are causeways on four sides, which are bordered by low naga balustrades. The inner and smaller rampart has a gopura of sandstone and laterite in the center of each side of wall. Long halls on each side lie parallel to the eastern wall. They were probably rest houses for visitors. Pairs of square-shaped, brick structure at the northeast and southeast corners are identified by rows of circular holes and an opening to the west. On each side of the processional way, just beyond the halls, there are two square structures with four doors. The inscription of the temple was found in the northern building. Further along the processional way, there are two long sandstone buildings standing parallels on each side and opening on to the causeway. These may have been storehouse or libraries.

The diminishing platforms are square in plan with stairways on all four sides. The central sanctuary is visible from each of the five levels because of the unusual width of the tiers. The sanctuary is square with four tiers and a lotus-shaped finial. Only the base of the original central sanctuary remains. The upper portion was constructed at a later date, perhaps during the 12th century, which explains the lotus spire that is characteristic of that period.

Lolei Temple
Lolei temple is located north of the main road in the center of Baray, close to a modern Buddhist temple. The temple was built in the late 9 century in 893 by King Yasovarman I, dedicating to Shiva and in memory of the King’s father. Lolei is worth a visit just for its exquisite carvings and inscriptions which some consider to be the finest of the Rolous group. The temple was originally located in the center of a great Baray, the Indratataka. According to an inscription found at the temple, the water in this pond was for use at the capital of Hariharalaya and for irrigating the plains in the area.

The temple consists of a double platform rising originally form the Baray surrounded by a laterite rampart on all four sides. Lions on the landings of the stairways guard the temple. The four towers appear randomly placed on a raised smaller brick platform. A sandstone channel in the shape of a cross situated in the center of the four towers is an unusual feature. The channels extend to the cardinal directions from a square pedestal for a lingam. It is speculated that holy water poured over the lingam flowed in the channels. The panels of the false door have multiple figures. The inscriptions on the door frames of these towers are exceptionally fine.

Phnom Krom Temple
Phnom Krom is a 137 meters high hill located about 12 kilometers southwest of Siem Reap at the northern end of the Tonle Sap Lake. Situated on the hilltop, Phnom Krom temple was built in the late 9th and early 10th centuries by King Yasovarman I, dedicating to Brahmanism trinity – Shiva, Vishnu and Brama.

The temple is square in plan and consists of three towers made of sandstone in a row standing on a low rectangular platform. They are oriented in north to south direction. The central shrine is dedicated to Shiva, the northern shrine to Vishnu and the southern shrine to Brahma. The upper portions of the towers have collapsed and the facades are dilapidated. The towers are surrounded by a laterite rampart intersected on each side by cruciform gopuras. Originally, three long halls built of laterite, probably rest houses, were located two on the south, one on the north. Only base of these remain. Four small, square structures stand in the courtyard in front of the central tower. All four open to the west and have a series of holes in the walls, feature that suggest they may have been used as crematoriums.

Floating Village on Tonle Sap
A boat trip on the Tonle Sap is a pleasant break from temple roving and gives visitors a chance to see a fishing village. All the way visitors will see the fishermen and their families who live on the water and form the so-called floating village, Chong Knas. The village is located in the only floating commune, Chong Knas, about 15 kilometers from Siem Reap provincial town.

The Tonle Sap is the largest permanent freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. As the main source of fishing and agriculture to people living on the surrounding plain, it has played an important role in Angkor throughout history. The lake is connected to the Mekong River by Tonle Sap River joined at Phnom Penh. The hydrological process that cause the lake to increase in size during the monsoon rains, and then recede, is believed to be of importance in maintaining the ecological system of the lake, which includes various specifies of fish and birds.

Cambodian Cultural Village
The Cambodian Cultural Village is a miniature village that depicts famous or historical buildings and structures, local customs and practices of all races. The site, which covers 210,000 square meters, is located in Siem Reap provincial town along National Road 6 in Svay Dangkum commune.

There are 12 unique villages representing the different cultural heritages and characteristics of 19 races. Tourists can enjoy traditional Apsara Dance and performances by Cambodian hill tribes. Or they can watch acrobats and witness a traditional Cambodian marriage ceremony. At every village tourists can watch villagers demonstrate their stone-cutting, woodcarving, silver smiting and gem-cutting skills.

A wax museum features scenes and figures from history. The museum shows how Angkor Wat Temple was built, the lifestyles of the Khmers during the Zhenla Period and the breathtaking human figures with various characteristics and replicas of important historical people.

The site also includes fascinating 1/20th scale models of sites such as Phsar Thmey and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh and the hills and temples of Oudong and full-scale models of a variety of Cambodian architecture, including different styles of huts and homes, hill tribe houses, pagodas and mosques. A trip to the Cambodian Cultural Village is a memorable experience.