Probably the single most impressive place I visited in South-East Asia during my five week trip back in 2013, Angkor was quite incredible, the largest pre-industrial city in the world. Thankfully I had three days there, exploring Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and nine other temple complexes covered here.
Bayon is the newest major Angkor temple, built at the end of the 12th century. It is famous for it’s distinctive faces, which may represent the Buddha or King Jayavarman VII, one of the most powerful Angkorian kings, who reigned 1181-1218. He was also responsible for Ta Prohm.
Bayon lies at the exact centre of Angkor Thom, the capital of King Jayavarman VII’s empire, which included buildings from before his reign, including the 11th century Royal Palace.
There are four gates into Angkor Thom, marked with 23m high intricate stone structures, including three elephant trunks hanging down.
The bridge over the moat had typical Angkorian statues.
Close to Bayon is the immense Baphuon, a massive three tiered temple built of hundreds of thousands of stone blocks. Due to it’s weight on a sand foundation much of the building had collapsed by the 20th century so archaeologists removed 300,000 unique blocks to rebuild the core. These were carefully labelled and organised, but before the structure could be reassembled civil war started in 1970, after which the plans were lost. After 16 years of work, the giant puzzle was complete, and the site reopened in 2011.
Much smaller in scale Banteay Srei is known for it’s exquisite red sandstone carvings.
Preah Khan was built by King Jayavarman VII to honour his father, and was a quieter version of Ta Prohm, with similar trees and an unrestored state.
East Mebon was a quiet site, a 10th century temple home to impressive 2m high carved elephants.
A guy with a Google Streetview type set up was capturing the site, hard work in hot and humid conditions.
Another quiet site, Neak Pean is an artificial island home to a small temple.
Visiting the 10th century Pre Rup was memorable for the torrential downpour of rain, which meant we had the place to ourselves, but had to be careful on the wet, slippery stone.
To end with Phnom Bakheng, a popular place to watch the sunset over Angkor Wat. It was one of the earlier temples, built in the 9th century as a Hindu temple.