Angkor Wat Description:
Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s crowning glory of ancient architecture.
The paramount monument found in the Angkor Archeological Park, Angkor Wat is one of the world’s largest, and most exquisitely built religious structures. Constructed over a 30 year period in the early 12th century, the ancient temple has become a national symbol of Cambodia, and appears on the country’s flag.
To reach the imposing structure, visitors walk across an ancient stone bridge that spans the wide moat that surrounds Angkor Wat. Khmer architects used moats and water tanks as both defense structures and reservoirs to catch rainwater for the city’s consumption and the irrigation of crops.
The structure was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Vishnu before the spread of Buddhism in the Khmer Empire in the late 13th century. The long gallery halls of the building are capped by three pyramid-like towers that represent Mount Meru, the abode of Hindu gods. The galleries, surprisingly cool throughout the day, are covered in incredibly detailed bas-relief carvings detailing the Reamker, the Khmer Empire’s version of the Ramayana Hindu epic. These ancient carvings seem to dance with a life of their own as you wander through the high-ceilinged corridors watching Hindu gods battle the forces of darkness for supremacy over creation.
At the center of the structure, visitors find an open air courtyard where the pyramid-like spires reach into the sky. A short, thrilling climb up the stair-like edifice deposits visitors into the sanctuaries of the spires. Shiva Lingam, stone idols representing the cosmic might of the Hindu deity Shiva, would have once been enshrined here, but the Khmer Empire’s conversion to Buddhism resulted in the removal of these idols. Today, you’re more likely than not to find a Buddhist monk wrapped in an orange rob lost in meditation and wreathed by the smoke of burning incense sticks inside the spire shrines.
Best Time to Visit Angkor Wat:
The best weather to visit Angkor Wat is between the months of December and May when the atmosphere is dry and the temperature relatively low. Higher temperatures begin to blanket the land in June and continue through November. Short but powerful bursts of rain are common during this time of year, which help cool the atmosphere in the mornings and early afternoons. The extra precipitation fills the water tanks and moats around Angkor Wat, and the still waters that reflect the ancient temple makes the entire compound that much more stunning.
How to get to Angkor Wat:
Angkor Wat is the pivotal monument in the Angkor Archeological Park. The park is a short drive from the town of Siem Reap in Cambodia’s northwestern region. Guests on our luxury tours of Cambodia reach the area in a private vehicle along with their English speaking tour guide.
Angkor Wat Highlights:
Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s paramount attraction. It’s been one of the most talked about ancient structures in Asia since French colonials hacked through the jungle in the 1920s and began to excavate the Angkor Archeological Park. No trip to Cambodia would be complete without visiting this splendid temple.
Western-style clothing choices are fine. Dress for hot weather to explore Angkor Wat and the hundreds of other temples in the area. A good pair of shoes is recommended over sandals.