Angkor Wat & Beyond: Exploring Cambodia's Majestic Angkor Complex

By Amanda Little

Angkor Wat is an amazing travel destination, but many don't know about the stunning and less crowded temples to be explored nearby, all easily within walking distance.

Step away from the beaten path to explore ruins and temples left to stand the test of time.

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Angkor Wat•Cambodia

The largest religious monument in the world.

A breathtaking temple, Angkor Wat is dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu. This enormous 'temple mountain' consists of a three-tiered pyramid, topped with five lotus-like towers rising over 200 feet into the sky. Due to its westward orientation and counterclockwise bas-reliefs, it is lead to believe Angkor Wat started as a funerary temple.

Thommanon • Cambodia

A small temple with a big personality.

Built around the same time as Angkor Wat, Thommanon was constructed better, and has undergone full restorations to bring its beauty back in full for all to admire. Time and climate have weathered the sandstone of the temple, making it only more mysterious and beautiful.

Chau Say • Cambodia

A temple with a touch of Buddhist ideology.

A sister to Thommanon, Chau Say was left to disrepair just across from the striking temple, but has also undergone an amazing restoration to bring its already exquisite carvings and architecture into better standing. Chau Say was built much later than Thommanon, so along with a majority of Hindu-themed carvings, there are also some Buddhist-related reliefs making their way into the history of the stone.

Banteay Kdei• Cambodia

Admire artwork hewn into stone.

Soft sandstone showing the wear of time makes up the beautiful mosaic complex of Banteay Kdei. A restoration project is underway for the Buddhist monastery to bring the stunning towers and stoic walls back to their splendor. While 13th century vandalism is apparent on the Buddha images seen in the stone, this sprawling temple is a must-see in Angkor Wat.

Srah Srang • Cambodia

A temple of love afloat on a man-made lake.

Partially flooded and just across from the east entrance of the Banteay Kdei, the remains of the island temple Srah Srang sits in the middle of the 900 year old baray (man-made lake). The temple is believed to be dedicated to the god of love, and is adorned with stone lions looking out over the water, striking naga baulstrades, and more. This less crowded area of Angkor Wat makes for an amazing place to wait for the sun to rise and should be on the itinerary to any visit to the temples.

Ta Prohm•Cambodia

Discover wild and overgrown temples.

This spectacular temple is only partially visible through the jungle growth allowed to run wild across its surface, providing an atmosphere of exploring a temple for the first time, and all of the mystery and intrigue that comes with it. Explore the maze of Ta Prohm's shady corridors with fig and silk-cotton tree roots and branches growing along walls, ceilings, and floors, as much a part of the temple as the stone itself.

Angkor Thom• Cambodia

The adventure continues.

If you have explored all of Angkor Wat and are still looking for more adventure, you could also enter Angkor Thom, a city filled with even more ruins and temples. The complex offers more than enough to explore, though you may want to start with Bayon at the center.

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