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The incredible complex of temples and religious monuments in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is a relic of the Hindu faith and beliefs which endured centuries of battering by the elements. As its pride and joy, Angor Wat stands like a shining star among the ruins, seemingly unaffected by the passage of time. See the following information and plan your trip to Angkor Wat so as to check this incredible site off your travel bucket list!
Why Go to Angkor Wat
Thought to have served as both a temple and a mausoleum for its creator, Suryavarman II, Angor Wat is the representation on earth of the Hindu house of the gods, Mt. Meru. Its past is filled with interesting history, and the fact that it is still used today as a Hindu temple gives it even more meaning.
When you learn how 300,000 workers and 6000 elephants carried sandstone from over 50 kilometers away to build this incredible structure, its outer wall, towers, and intricate detailing, you will feel in awe of the tenacity of the ancient Khmer empire. Its walls are covered in the beautiful carved pictures, detailing the lives of the people, the gods, and especially highlight Vishnu. The cultural value is outstanding, and as you wander the complex you will see why Cambodians have such pride in this place (so much so that it appears on their flag!).
How to Get to Angkor Wat
There are several options for transportation. It is highly recommended to stay in Siem Reap, and start your journey to the temple of Angkor Wat very early in the morning.
Leaving from Siem Reap, you can hire a driver from your hotel. Your driver may take you in a car (about $45 per day), a motorcycle (about $6-10 per day) or a tuk-tuk (about $12-20 per day). Of course, your driver is not a tour guide and will probably not be able to give you much information of the background or history of the site you are visiting. You also have the possibility of renting a motorcycle yourself, which is a cheaper option (about $15 per day), or a bicycle (about $2-5 per day). However, these options require you to be your own guide, which once again means less understanding of what you see.
If you really want to enjoy Angkor Wat to its fullest, taking in the rich history that is provided there and understanding your surroundings, then it is recommended to take a tour. This fantastic one day tour will provide you with insights into the meaning of the Angkor complex, making it an unforgettable visit.
When entering the temple complex, it is very important that you meet the clothing requirements, or else you run the risk of not being allowed entrance. To show proper respect for the beliefs of the Hindus and Buddhists that use this temple, please make sure that your shoulders and legs are covered. This is especially important for women. The video below by the local authorities covers all the necessary etiquette that you should know before going to the temple.
How Much Is Angkor Wat?
The Angkor Archaeological Park has one-day admission fees of $20, or a three-day admission for $40. Thankfully, the three days do not have to be consecutive; you can use them over the span of a week. There is also a one-week ticket for $60, which can be spread out over a month. The park is open from 5:30AM to 5:30PM.
Angkor Wat Highlights
Passing over an impressive moat, and through the outer wall by one of the grand gates, you will then enter the temple complex. We recommend the principle gate on the western side, where you find the statue of Vishnu and other beautiful sculptures.
Strolling along the avenue, you’ll catch fantastic views of the temple as you come up to it. One of the best ways to appreciate this beautiful site is by arriving early and catching the sunrise. As the temple complex rises from the morning mist, you will be struck by the deep spiritual meaning of your surroundings.
Once the walls of Angkor Wat surround you, pay special attention to the delicately carved motifs and sculptures, repeatedly showing mythical beings and the faces of the gods that the Hindus worship. You will also see some symbols of Buddhism inside, and it is incredible to see how both Buddhism and Hinduism worship together, yet separate, in this one complex.
The harmony and balance of the structure is amazing, and as you travel through the Hall of Echoes, see the beautiful Apsaras forever dancing silently in the walls, and travel upwards along the steep steps to the upper level, or Bakan Sanctuary, history comes to life and you feel the rich spiritual significance of your surroundings.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and among the Seven Wonders of the World, Angkor Wat is a fantastic place to breathe in the deep spiritual heritage of Cambodia.