Updated: Oct 18, 2022
500Second Guide from the Team at Food and Travel Guides; A Top Destination on many travelers' Bucket lists, Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The Angkor Temple area is well documented but will reveal its mysteries as soon as you go here.
Author: Team at Food and Travel Guides
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An iconic photo for travelers from all over the world; Angkor Wat
Table of Content: Destination Angkor Wat - a Top Travel Guide to Angkor Temple area in Cambodia
Described as a "must-go" by Backpackers, Globetrotters and Off the Beaten Path Explorers, it's natural that Angkor Wat is one of the most wanted-to-visit Destinations in the World today.
Angkor Wat Travel Guide
Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia is the world's largest temple area and a fantastic historical destination. Visit Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Preah Khan, and Ta Prohm. In this Angkor Wat Guide, you'll find the history of Angkor Wat, the Symbolism of Angkor Wat, information on How Angkor Wat was built, and when it's the best time to visit Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, and Cambodia.
Sculptures all have their individual looks and faces! Truly works of art each one
The History of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat was originally built by the Khmer King Suryaverman the 2nd in the early 12th century as a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, breaking from the Shaiva tradition from further Kings and gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple built with top Khmer temple architecture. Angkor Wat is located in Yaśodharapura (Khmer for what today is Angkor).
Angkor Wat was also the Khmer Empire State Temple and was thought to be the King's eventual mausoleum. The King was never buried at Angkor Wat as he died in battle during a failed expedition to subdue the Dai Viet (Vietnamese) far away from Angkor.
The Temples of Angkor Wat have been of significant religious importance from the start until the present, combining two plans of Temple architectural structures; original Mountain-temples and the later added Lower Galleries. Angkor Wat's perfection in the composition, its impeccable balance, and proportions, the details in the many reliefs and sculptures make it, without doubt, one of the finest temple monuments in the world today.
For Cambodia, Angkor Wat has great importance being the most visited destination in the country, and the Mountain Temple is also found on the nation's flag.
How was Angkor Wat Built? Amazing Facts
Built between the first half of the 12th century, between 113 - 5 BC, Angkor Wat is located 6 km north of Siem Reap, south of Angkor Thom. The Entry and Exit to Angkor Wat can only be accessed from its West gate.
The Angkor Temple Area; where Angkor Wat is included, is the largest religious monument in the World and is on UNESCO World Wonder List, measuring over 400 acres, or roughly 162 hectares, or 1,6 million square meters.
The Sandstone to build Angkor Wat was quarried from the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen - more than 50 km away and shipped down Siem Reap River on rafts.
The construction of Angkor Wat required more than 300 000 workers and 6 000 elephants - and still, it wasn't completely finished.
The Angkor Wat Symbolism
The temples of Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Preah Khan, and Ta Prohm is all examples of beautiful Khmer architecture. Angkor Wat is one of the best-preserved of all these temples and like many other temple mountains, it symbolizes and is a replicate of the spatial universe in miniature.
The Central Tower of the five is a symbol for Mount Meru, situated at the center of the universe. The surrounding Towers are Mt Merus' lower peaks. The lower courtyards represent the mountains bounded by continents and the Moat symbolizes oceans. The 7-headed Naga (a mythical serpent) becomes the symbol of the Rainbow Bridge for humankind to reach the abode of the Gods.
The Five Towers of Angkor Wat is one of the most photographed Temple and Monument sights in the world, each of the Towers built in Sandstone rises 23 meters above is crowned with four heads; each is facing in cardinal directions. The faces are believed to be a symbol and represent the rulers of the four cardinal points at the summit of Mount Meru.
And we find more symbolism in the lower half of each gate. They're modeled as an elephant with 3 heads. The elephants' trunks serve as pillars and are plucking lotus flowers. The Hindu God Indra is sitting at the center of the elephant with an Apsara on each side, holding a thunderbolt in his lower left hand.
The newer, bas-reliefs support that this was meant to be a funereal site as they are oriented to the west to conform to the symbolism between the setting sun and death and can be viewed from left to right in the order of a Hindu funereal ritual - Antyesti.
A visitor to Angkor Wat who walks the causeway towards the main entrance, through the courtyards to reach the final main tower (which once contained a statue of Vishnu) is metaphorically traveling back to the first age of the creation of the universe.
The five towers of Angkor Wat are one of the most photographed ancient ruins in the world
When to go and how to get around Angkor Wat
The best time of the year (you can visit Angkor Wat any time of the year though) to visit Cambodia, Siem Reap, and Angkor Wat is between November and February. This time of the year it's dryer and cooler even if it's hot for most of the days.
To be able to explore the whole Temple Area of Angkor Wat and the surrounding Temples takes at least a couple of days. Just to grasp and discover Angkor Wat's mysteries takes at least a whole day and while being at the ruin site it's plenty to take in so take your time and don't rush!
Angkor Wat opens already at 05.00 am and at sunrise the site is crowded; all want to take their own version of an iconic sunrise photo of Angkor Wat. Of course, that's a "must-do" but hang around until after lunchtime when most of the tour groups head to town. The upper level with the Bakan Sanctuary is open from 07.30 am. The Angkor Wat complex closes every day at 05.30 pm.
To get around Angkor Wat we recommend eco-friendly options like Mountain Bikes or Electric Bicycles. You can also get around in small "motos" (motorbike taxis) for one person, "rework-motos" (or as they are called; tuk-tuks) for two, or private cars and minivans if you're a smaller group.
Start Planning Your Journey to Angkor Wat
Without a doubt, Angkor Wat will become a memory for life for all who visit, and for future generations to come please respect the Buddhist tradition, don't climb on buildings or steal, destroy anything on the site.
To find the Best Travel Resources when planning your Angkor Wat Trip, visit our page with Travel Resources.
Have you been to Angkor Wat? Tell us your experiences in the comments and hope you enjoyed the post!
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