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Last updated : Nov 2009
Siem Reap and Angkor
Siem Reap and Angkor - TravelPuppy.com
Siem Reap

The small town of Siem Reap has become a tourist destination for only one reason. The temples of Angkor Wat are among the world's most magnificent historical monuments. Angkor Wat's archaeological importance and breathtaking impact on the visitor puts it in a class with sites like the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza and Machu Pichu. Angkor Wat, Bayon and the other ruins are still unspoiled by commercialism and over-development.


Angkor, is only a few kilometres to the north of the town of Siem Reap.It is indisputably the most impressive, most enormous, most famous and most important attraction not only in Cambodia, but in all of Southeast Asia, and perhaps even in all of Asia.

In its size and grandeur Angkor is best compared to the Pyramids of Egypt. But Angkor is far more than collection of huge structures. Despite its enormous dimensions, it is the exquisite emphasis in detail like the Notre Dame of Paris and the intricate ancient art of architecture and sculpturing that places this site on the level of the Acropolis of Athens.

This is where the old capital of the Khmer kingdoms of Cambodia settled and built their empires. Angkor, is the site of Hindu and Buddhist temple complexes known as Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat.

Each king of the Khmer dynasty built his own temple based on the Hindu concept of the god-king; with himself depicted as the deity.

Angkor Wat

King Suryavarman II, who reigned from 1113 AD to 1150 built Angkor Wat. His intention was for the temple to present him as the incarnation of Vishnu.

Faced with invasion by the kingdom of Champa, faith was no longer held in the power of the Hindu gods to protect and for this reason Angkor Wat may well have been the downfall of the Khmer regime.

Angkor Thom

King Jayavarman VII, who reigned from 1181 AD until the year 1219 and overthrew the Champa, was a Mahayana Buddhist. His legacy was to create a vast monument to the north of Angkor Wat.

Angkor Thom was created with Buddhist cosmology in mind and was built to surpass Angkor Wat. The large face likeness on the Bayon represent both Buddha and the king himself.

Succeeding Kings defaced the structures by destroying earlier effigies and placing their own in Hindu inspired iconoclasm.

In the year 1431 the Thais invaded and devastated the area, but the ruins Angkor Wat remains a centre of Buddhist pilgrimage.

During the 1860's the French re-discovered the ruins and made extensive research and reclamation of the Angkor area. Since then looting and civil wars have added to the neglect and continued deterioration of the monuments.

Major Sights and Attractions

 Angkor Wat
 Angkor Thom and Bayon
 Ta Phrom
 Phnom Bakheng
 Banteay Srei
 Big and Small Circuits
 Phnom Kulen
 Rolous Group