Angkor, located 6km north of Siem Reap, is one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992 and contains the remains of several capitals of the Khmer Kingdom of the 9th to the 15th centuries.
Onederz Hostel Siem Reap arranges shared tuk tuks to visit the temples and offers two different routes: the Little Circuit (6$ per person) and the Big Circuit (7$ per person).
The Little Circuit comprises the most popular temples and it gets really busy if you choose to start at sunrise. You first visit Angkor Wat, then head north to Bayon and the rest of Angkor Thom before continuing east to Thommanon, Chau Say Tevoda, Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Srah Srang and Prasat Kravan.
The Big Circuit starts at Srah Srang then heads east, via Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean and Preah Khan. This is definitely a less touristy itinerary and is highly recommended. If you only have one day to visit the temples you can add to the itinerary Angkow Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm as it would take an extra couple of hours.
Top 5 temples in Angkor:
- Ta Prohm
This temple was built in the early 13th century and is famous for the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings.
- Angkor Wat
It was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as a Hindu temple of god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. Is the largest religious monument in the world, with the site measuring 162.6 hectares.
- Preah Khan
This temple was built in the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII to honor his father. Unlike other temples, this one is flat in design, with a basic plan of successive rectangular galleries around a Buddhist sanctuary. Like the famous Ta Prohm, Preah Khan has numerous trees and other vegetation growing among the ruins.
Bayon was built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. It´s most distinctive feature is the multitude of stone faces on the many towers.
- Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei is a peaceful and isolated 10th century temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and located near the hill of Phnom Dei. It is built of pink sandstone with elaborate decorative wall carvings which are very well preserved.