People walking to Baphuon Temple.

©Pelikh Alexey/Shutterstock


Temples of Angkor

Some have called Baphuon the 'world's largest jigsaw puzzle'. Before the civil war the Baphuon was painstakingly taken apart piece by piece by a team of archaeologists, but their meticulous records were destroyed during the Khmer Rouge regime, leaving experts with 300,000 stones to put back into place. After years of excruciating research, this temple has been partially restored. In the 16th century, the retaining wall on the western side of the second level was fashioned into a 60m reclining Buddha.

In its heyday, Baphuon would have been one of the most spectacular of Angkor’s temples. Located 200m northwest of Bayon, it’s a pyramidal representation of mythical Mt Meru. Construction probably began under Suryavarman I and was later completed by Udayadityavarman II. It marked the centre of the capital that existed before the construction of Angkor Thom.

The site is approached by a 200m elevated walkway made of sandstone, and the central structure is 43m high. Clamber under the elevated causeway for an incredible view of the hundreds of pillars supporting it.

It takes around one hour to fully explore Baphuon, although it is possible to have a faster visit if you skip the upper levels.

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