Angkor and its temples: stone, men and gods

The temples of Angkor are a bit like Tikal in Guatemala, Karnak in Egypt or Khajuraho in India: a link between men and Gods


Angkor, even when you don’t know anything about it, you still go there


Cambodia is well aware of this, Angkor is a major cultural tourist attraction. Few travellers to Cambodia have failed to visit this architectural marvel that is over 2000 years old. Despite the high price, even if they are not keen on archaeology, everyone goes there. Because even without history, the temples of Angkor are beautiful.

In Angkor, it is the stones that best tell the story

What makes these thousand-year-old temples so attractive is not only the architecture or the incredible history of this city engulfed by the jungle.
Angkor is huge, 400 km², it is possible to walk around it for days on end without really going around it.
This archaeological city is full of temples, statues and standing stones.
To the beauty of the ruins is added the luxuriant vegetation of the jungle and the softness of the lakes.

For the contemplative visitor, it is a magnificent walk. For the culture lovers, it is an open-air library.

A bit of history before entering the Angkor sanctuary is best


It is good to do a little research on history before entering Angkor, otherwise a lot of interesting details may escape you

In the town of Siem Reap, which is just 7 km away, on the big market, a documentary film is shown on a loop. You can learn a lot by getting a foot massage for a few riels… and it’s even better than at the cinema.
For the rest, Angkor can be explored without a guide, you just have to follow the movement.
The site is so big that it is preferable to do it with a means of locomotion. A bicycle or a tuk-tuk with driver rented for a day is ideal for seeing the major monuments.

To appreciate the visit of the site, it is not useful to see everything, Angkor is also simply contemplated

I don’t think it’s that important to see everything. To be touched by the majesty of the place, all you have to do is walk around, take your time, pay attention to the details, take a step back as well.
Those who have little time in front of them will certainly take a guide, but the visit will be done on the run and there won’t be much time left to penetrate the beauty of the sanctuary.
Much of it is covered with forest and this is really one of the reasons why Angkor is so endearing. Once upon a time, these constructions dating from the 9th and 15th centuries were invaded by trees, so intimately intermingled that it is impossible today to restore them without collapsing the structures. It is the vegetation that holds the building together.

This marriage between stone and vegetation propels the visitor back in time and gives Angkor a magical aura

From these blocks dislocated by the sprawling roots of the cheesemakers, great poetry and incredible strength emerges.
The stone, which was once red or yellow, now tends more towards grey, and the sunrise or sunset floods the site with a thick, powdery golden light that should not be missed. Angkor is not overrated, far from it, the stones are talkative, the jungle rustling and the history grandiose.
The carved frescoes are fascinatingly precise, the huge blocks of stone are so well fitted that it is sometimes difficult to discern them. And over metres of corridor are told the battles, dynasties and monarchs that took place here for seven centuries.
The delicacy of the faces, the hands, the finesse of the sculpted drapes, the smiles of the statues, you have to take your time to really appreciate all these details.

Some golden rules to visit Angkor

  • Take your time, don’t run.
  • Do not touch statues, friezes, bas-reliefs, etc. This will dirty and damage them.
  • Do not get angry in the queues. Temples are sometimes only accessible by a very steep narrow ladder: only one visitor at a time!
  • Bring plenty of water as it is very hot here. Also take a snack or two as the day promises to be long.
  • Get up early to enjoy a bit more peace and quiet. However, don’t be under any illusions, many visitors arrive as early as 4am for the sunrise on the Bayon… and it’s a rush.
  • Visiting the site is quite expensive. 40$ per day, 60$ for a 3 day pass and about 75$ for the week. But it’s not much compared to what you can see there.
  • Spreading the visit over several days allows you to really take the time to discover the site without saturating it. At best, with the 7-day pass, it is possible to organize the visits in half days. Double advantage: less fatigue and curiosity, enthusiasm will be less quickly dulled. It will also allow you to take some time to visit the surroundings of Siem Reap: the silk factory, the craftsmen, the shows, the Tonle Sap, etc.
  • Grouping together for a Tuk-tuk is more economical!
  • Negotiating the price of a Tuk-tuk is normal.
  • Drivers are very routine for visits and tours, they are generally reliable.
  • Some offer to take a cooler on board to store drinks and food. This is a real plus in temperatures around 40° and high humidity. For a few more riels or included in the price, it’s up to you to discuss it.
  • Do not throw anything on the ground and limit plastic waste. In terms of eco-responsibility, Cambodia is still not very developed.
  • The site is full of vendors of handicrafts, postcards and trinkets of all kinds. In order to make the tourist fall in love with them, it is often children who offer them. Find out before you buy, by making this activity lucrative for the family, you may take away these children’s chances of going to school.

More tips about culture to discover?

It’s permanent, often touching, sometimes exhausting or downright annoying, begging is international. How to react to this harassment in the countries we visit?

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Vous aimez cet article ? Partagez-le ou réagissez !

error: Content is protected !!