Angkor Archaeological Park
Constructed when: 9th to 13th century (approx. 802 to 1431)
Constructed by: starting with Jayavarman II to Indravarman III
Religion: Hindu and Buddhist
Architectural style: Angkor Wat, Bayon, Kleang, Bakheng, etc.
Location: approximately 15 kilometers north of Siem Reap town
Angkor Wat - the main temple site in the Angkor Archaeological Park
Angkor Thom - Angkor Thom Gates - Bayon - Baphuon - Terrace of the Elephants - Terrace of the Lepper King - Phimeanakas - Preah Palilay - Tep Pranam - Preah Pithu Group - North & South Kleang - Prasats Suor Prat
Banteay Kdei - a good temple to visit before or after Ta Prohm, which is directly adjacent.
Banteay Samre - good temple to visit on the way back to town after a visit to Banteay Srei.
Banteay Srei - Red sandstone temple with excuisite carvings, has to be seen, approximately 35 kilometers out of town
Kbal Spean - River of a thousand lingas, stone carvings in river bed, approximately 12 kilometers beyond Banteay Srei.
East Mebon - originally a temple on an island in the middle of the large East Baray reservoir, which is now dry.
West Mebon - similar to East Mebon but the temple lies mostly in ruin and the West Baray does contain water.
Neak Pean - a small very interesting island temple in the Preah Khan Baray.
Phnom Bakeng - temple-mountain, famous for sunset shots, therefore also very crowded at every sunset.
Prasat Kravan - rather ordinary looking towers that contain incredible brick bas-reliefs of Vishnu and Lakshmi.
Preah Khan - one of my favorite temple sites, once the residence of Jayavarman VII.
Pre Rup - temple-mountain with good view of surroundings and good condition detailed carvings.
Srah Srang - nice reservoir in front of Banteay Kdei
Ta Keo - temple-mountain in good shape but with a distinct lack of decoration
Ta Prohm - the famous overgrown jungle temple used in the Lara Croft movie with Anglina Jolie
Ta Som - small temple with a lot of character, good for photographers.
Approximately 15 kilometers from the center of Siem Reap, the Angkor Archaeological Park is comprised of over 40 major and a large number of minor temple sites, that are spread out over an area that is much larger than anyone can imagine until they have been there for a few days, and finally give up on seeing all of the temples on a three day trip.
Entrance is US $20 for one day, $40 for three days and $60 for a seven day pass (which can be used on consecutive days or spread out over a period of one month). Park visiting hours are from 5:30 AM to sunset. The ticket booth opens at 5:00 AM. Although I consider Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean to be remote temple sites, they are considered part of the Angkor Archaeological Park and require a valid ticket for the day you are visiting them. Always keep the ticket on you, temple guards will request to see the ticket and a lost ticket will require the purchase of a new ticket.
Best time to visit: 5:30 AM for sunrise photography and 5:30 PM for sunset photography. Early morning and late afternoon for best photographic lighting conditions and cooler weather. The middle of the day is usually much too hot to be outside in Siem Reap. It is best to follow the lead of the locals and find a cool spot in the middle of the day to have a meal and rest for a few hours.
Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 13th centuries. The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara (नगर), meaning "city". The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a "universal monarch" and "god-king", until 1431, when Ayutthayan invaders sacked the Khmer capital, causing its population to migrate south to the area of Phnom Penh.
The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland to the north of the Great Lake (Tonle Sap) and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern-day Siem Reap (13°24′N, 103°51′E), and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together, they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture. Visitor numbers approach two million annually.
In 2007, an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest preindustrial city in the world, with an elaborate system of infrastructure connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1000 square kilometres to the well-known temples at its core. The closest rival to Angkor, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was between 100 and 150 square kilometres in total size. Although its population remains a topic of research and debate, newly identified agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported up to one million people.
Historical information and some descriptions of temple sites are sourced from the Angkor series of Wikipedia articles. This text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The main Wikipedia page on Angkor can be found at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor