There’s no other site in the world as stimulating as that of Angkor. Mystery and fascination have forever accompanied its name, exotic echoing abound. And if three or four days are not sufficient to see everything, a well designed visit will allow you to at least discover the main temples and understand the magnitude of the work that led to its realization.
Excursion to the group of temples called Roluos. Located 13 km to the south-east of the city, this complex houses some of the oldest buildings that constitute the birthplace of classical angkorien art. Then a visit to the three main temples: Lo Lei, Preah Ko and Bakong, before addressing the site of the Golden Age. Sunset at Pre Rup, one of the last brick built temples, built in 961. It marks the end of an era and offers a superb view over the whole site of Angkor Wat and its towers.
The morning is devoted to Angkor Wat, the most majestic and famous mountain style temple in Khmer civilization. The enormous building is entirely an allegorical representation of Hindu mythology, where the episodes are illustrated in the bas-reliefs which surround the central body like a gigantic comic strip. In the afternoon move 40 km out of the city to visit Banteay Srei, also called the “Temple of Women”, because a legend relates that it was kept, for a time, by a garrison made up entirely of women. Discovering Angkor, Banteay Srei is especially famous for the beauty of its stone roses and the quality of its bas-reliefs, considered by many specialists as superior to those of Angkor Wat. On the return journey a visit to Banteay Samré, a small and very attractive temple in the same style as Angkor Wat.
In the morning a visit to Angkor Thom, “The Great City,” entering by the South Gate, preceded by the aisle of giants and demons. Inside, the first building you see is the Bayon, a mountain temple to the glory of Jayavarman VII, great Buddhist King, and builder of the new capital. Then a walk to the Baphuon, majestic state temple recently restored by the EFEO with a base measuring 120 m by 100 m, and then onto the Akas Phimean, built in the Xth century. From there, we pass to the Elephant Terrace and the Leper King. It is most certainly in this place that all official episodes of court life took place with ambassador receptions, religious dedications and state ceremonies. In the afternoon a visit to see the Four temples of the Grand Circuit, such as designed by Henri Mouot during the re-discovery of Angkor in 1859. Firstly Preah Khanh one of the most vast and majestic temples with its aisles lined by trees probably unchanged for a millennia. Then to Neak Pean, a Hindu inspired and unique sacred building surrounded by a moat, where the plan is taken from a mandala. Followed by Ta Som, a Buddhist temple with towers covered by faces and today almost engulfed by vegetation similar to the next and final temple, Ta Prohm, certainly the most romantic, with roots from the huge kapok trees entangling the galleries and its sculptures. At days end, relocate to the airport. End of suggestions.
Additional Day – Tonle Sap option
Tonle Sap boat trip. The largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Boarding just 15 km to the South of Siem Reap to visit a floating village, inhabited by Khmer and Vietnamese families. Then crossing the lake (1h15 approximately) to take a canal that dives into an aquatic forest, preserved by the national authority for the protection of fauna and flora. When the level of the lake is at its highest, only the tops of the trees emerge: You can then browse through the forest by canoe, passing under the cover of its foliage. Then, continuing on up to a village of original residents, placed under the protection of UNESCO for ethnological reasons, whose houses are still built in the old manner on very tall bamboo stilts and well above water level. Finally landing and returning to the city for the last bit of shopping or going directly to Siem Reap airport, depending on the time of departure.
End of suggestions.
Picnic lunch in the village or on a boat.