With the Bayon as the highlight and a must-see on every Siem Reap trip, the Angkor Thom complex once was the centre of what used to be the mighty Angkor Kingdom. We dive deeper into the history and unique construction during this half day exploration.
One often needs to take a break: Angkor’s immense size is mind-blowing and with a cornucopia of temples, pagodas and remnants of what once was one of the largest cities in the world (according to the records, more than one million people lived in the great Angkor Kingdom at one time), it is bound to overload you with impressions. Our half day explorations of the famous sights form the perfect base to head out into Angkor before moving on to another highlight, surrounding Siem Reap. The Angkor Thom region is so worth it – with landmarks such as the 200-headed Bayon temple and the opulence that once adorned the Elephant Terrace fits perfectly into a morning or an afternoon trip.Your English speaking guide and professional driver will pick you up from your hotel lobby for this 4-hour venture into UNESCO-protected territory. The trip starts with entering the magnificence of Angkor via the Southern Gate of Angkor Thom, one of the main entrances in the life of the Jayavarman Kings and often visualized on travel magazines with a Cambodia spread. Nothing beats seeing the Bayon (our first stop of the day) for the first time. Erected by Jayavarman VII at the end of XII century, The Bayon (literally “Great City”) is located in the geographical heart of Angkor Thom. The fifty four-tower temple is a quite remarkable sight. Initially the temple seems to be a shapeless mass of grey and brown stone but as one approaches one realizes that each of the towers is in fact carved and there are over two hundred huge enigmatic faces of Avalokitesharva on 54 towers bearing down on you wherever you turn.A short walk from the Bayon brings you to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, a monumental plateau where once King Jayavarman VII resided. On the site itself, we make a visit and learn about the intricate history, vividly told by your guide, about the Baphuon and Phimeanakas within the Royal Enclosure. As this still is considered a Royal Site, an appropriate dress code is compulsory to enter. The whole complex of Angkor Thom is within easy walking distance of each other, allowing you to soak in the atmosphere of the once mighty Kingdom and the lush nature that enshrines these statures of immense Khmer importance.At the end of touring the Angkor Thom, it is time to head back to your hotel in Siem Reap before moving on in exploring the next part of Siem Reap.