Angkor Wat Cambodia:
A Quick Overview


Angkor Wat Cambodia is located about 8 kilometers from a small Cambodian town called Siem Reap (shown by a green arrow on the map).

It is the only site listed under UNESCO's World Heritage list for the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The Angkor Wat temple is the largest religious structure ever built, and it is roughly 1000 years old.

It is surrounded by a wide moat that is 190 meters wide, and the total dimension is 1.3 by 1.5 kilometers (moat included).

Angkor Wat Cambodia map

Angkor Wat (The Temple City) is considered the masterpiece of Cambodian ancient architecture. Its imposing size (you can easily lose your way here), its pleasing design (ornamental carving decorations coexist peacefully with function), and especially the abundant bas-relief carvings that surround its four long walls (truly a sight to behold), is just breathtaking.

Aerial view of Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Angkor Wat Cambodia aerial view

Okay, so you've already heard about how wonderful Angkor Wat is, but have you heard about Angkor Thom?

Since Angkor Wat is the 'main attraction' of Cambodia, people usually think that Angkor Wat is all there is to see. But very near Angkor Wat, there's a larger temple complex called Angkor Thom (The Large City). 

Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom mapUnlike the Angkor Wat, instead of housing only one large temple, the Angkor Thom has many 'smaller' temples. The famous Bayon, the Terrace of the Leper King, and Baphuon are some of them.

The whole area is huge, and when you visit 'Angkor Wat' you'll most likely visit Angkor Thom as well. Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom go together, and when you look at an Angkor Wat map an Angkor Thom map will always be included.

In fact, in the early days of Angkor tourism, there was what they called the Small Circuit and the Grand Circuit.

The Small Circuit is basically an 'itinerary' of temples to visit, covering only Angkor Wat and some of the Angkor Thom temples.

Similarly, the Grand Circuit covers Angkor Wat and most of Angkor Thom.

In the old days, visitors adhered to these guidelines strictly, particularly because they used elephants as transportation. These days, there are numerous transportation options for hopping between the temples, so you can visit them in any order you want (and maybe create your own 'circuit' too!).


Angkor Wat History

The oldest Angkorian temple was built in the 9th century, and the latest in the 12th century. Angkor Wat, the greatest architectural feat of them all, was built towards the end, in the 1100s. Click here to read more on Angkor Wat history.

After that, the period of massive temple building stopped and the Cambodian Kingdom started its decline. For a while, Angkor Wat was 'forgotten'.

When the French occupied Cambodia, they rediscovered the massive temples. In the 1860s, a French publication about the temple made Angkor Wat an international sensation. After that, preservation work started, mainly by the French.

Sadly, when the civil war broke out, the temple fell into severe disrepair and many artifacts were defaced or stolen.

Angkor Wat Cambodia at present

Today, Angkor Wat draws millions of visitors every month.  And, from the looks of it, most temples undergo constant renovation of one type or another.

The site also receives foreign aid from numberous countries for restoration projects.

Time seems to be working against them, however, because recently there was an article saying that Angkor Wat's condition has been deteriorating to the point where if it continues, the archeological site will be closed to visitors.    

angkor wat cambodia restoration
Angkor Wat Cambodia, in restoration.

Angkor Wat has been single handedly responsible for the growth of tourism in Siem Reap, and indeed Cambodia. The government is very aware of this fact, as seen by their efforts to make it easier for visitors to visit and by how much they charge for a temple pass. 

For example, recently the government started issuing e-visa, which is very convenient for travelers, even with the extra $5 fee. 

You only need to print the visa on normal paper, using any printer and printing either in color or black and white.

Another example is the ticketing booth for Angkor tickets. It is very efficiently run. 

Angkor Wat Cambodia ticket boothTicket booth in Angkor Wat Cambodia

It took us about 4 minutes to have our photo taken, pay the fee, and have the temple pass printed out.

Click here for more detailed information about getting your Angkor Wat pass, including prices and regulations.

Unfortunately, Angkor passes aren't cheap so we all try to cram in too many temples in a short period of time. This is not only overwhelming, but also desensitizing. We can only see so many temples before everything starts to look the same, and that is a great shame. 

Regardless, with just with a little bit of planning, it is possible to work out a good temple viewing schedule. 

When you finally visit Angkor Wat Cambodia and roam the 1,000-year-old bas-relief hallways, and take hundreds of pictures of temples and dancing Apsara figures, the temple fee and the inconvenient setup is soon be forgotten.

Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Angkor Wat Cambodia

The Angkor Wat Temple In Cambodia
Have you seen the inside of the Angkor Wat temple? Have you seen the detailed bas-reliefs and decorations that adorn almost every wall? Or the steep staircases, made even more precarious by age?

Angkor Wat Temple Bas-Relief? Astonishing!
When I first saw the Angkor bas-relief, I was astounded. Having seen and read only a little about it, I wasn't prepared for the great sight. And it’s not in a little section, but everywhere!

Angkor Wat History - A Brief Overview
Want to know a little bit of Angkor Wat history? Here is a condensed version of it, including the most important facts about the Kings and the temples.

The Angkor Wat Pass: How Much and Where to Get It
You can get your pass at the official Angkor Wat ticket booth located about 2 km from Angkor Wat itself. They also sell passes at the Banteay Srei temple. See here also for detailed price and regulation information.

Biking to Angkor Wat: Tips and Recommendations
Biking to see the Angkor Wat temples is a unique way to experience the temples. If you have a respectable level of fitness, I highly recommend using bikes to visit the Angkor temples.

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