The ancient Khmer people were very prolific builders and built many hundreds of temples. Most of which are located in Siem Reap province and there are many to see and do. Some, however, are more interesting to visit than others and this helpful blog post will give you quick summary of the best five temples to visit in Siem Reap town. The list of these temples come from TripAdvisor rankings based on visitor reviews.
Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat is probably the main reason to visit Siem Reap and there’s a good reason why millions of people come to see Angkor Wat every year. The temple was the world’s largest religious monument when it was built and continues to hold that crown today.
Built in early 12th century by King Suryavarman, Angkor Wat is a wonderful thing to see. It’s completely surrounded by a large monument which is probably the reason why the temple is in such good condition today. As the Khmer abandoned the temple in the 17th century, many temples were left to fight against the forces of nature.
Many dilapidated temples have the jungle growing up from the foundations and through the structure. However, Angkor Wat didn’t have the same fate and moat largely protected the stunning monument leaving it largely intact nearly a thousand years since it was built.
Bayon temple sits in the middle of the ancient city of Angkor Thom. It’s one of the most popular temples for most tourists because of the unique style and the 216 stone faces on the towers of the temple. It was built in the late 12th century and was the state temple for King Jayavarman VII.
It was was originally built as a Mahayana Buddhist temple but was later changed into Hindu and then Theravada Buddist designs as kings changed.
The bas-reliefs contain a unique style of historical and mythological scenes and there are many places to explore inside the temple. You can get lost inside Bayon and explore the towers for hours.
Ta Prohm is probably the most famous temple after Angkor Wat because it was used for the filming of the Tomb Raider film. The stunning temple is another favourite among visitors because of the trees and foliage growing through the structure of the temple.
Ta Prohm was built in the same style as the Bayon temple and was completed in the late 13th century. It was originally called Rajavihara and was used as a university and Buddhist monastery. It was home to thousands of people and would have been a very important part of the Khmer empire.
Many guests like to recreate famous Tomb Raider scenes from the movies and get pictures of the temple. However, Ta Prohm can get busy and you should try to visit very early in the morning when most guests are at Angkor Wat if you want to get photos without other people in them.
Angkor Thom isn’t really a temple, it was an ancient walled city surrounded by a large moat. Many popular temples are located inside Angkor Thom including Bayon, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, the Terrace of the Elephants, and the Terrace of the Leper King. Each entrance is also fascinating as they have long lines a devas and asuras which are a reference to the Churning of the Sea of Milk myth in the Hindu language.
There are entrances on the four cardinal points and they each contain a large face looking out onto the causeway as you enter the ancient city. The gates would have originally been closed but now they are door-less to allow passing traffic to come through. Many guests prefer to eat local food for sale inside Angkor Thom during their tour of the temples.
Banteay Srey is located a little further away from Siem Reap than the rest of the temples in this blog post, but most visitors will make the short journey out to see the unique Banteay Srey temple. The temple means the “Lady Temple” or the “Citadel of the Women” in English.
Although Banteay Srey wasn’t the original name of the temple, it was given this name because of the fine carvings on the walls. It’s believed that the carvings are so fine that no man could have carved them and they could only have been carved by a woman.
The Grand Bayon Siem Reap hotel offers a range of temple tours where you can see all the temples mentioned in this list and other people temples in the area. The ancient Khmer people were very prolific builders and there are many ancient temples and ruins to explore.
If you’re feeling templed-out, then there are also many other things you can do in Siem Reap. You can relax in hammocks on West Baray, or go quad bike riding through the stunning Cambodian countryside. The Grand Bayon Siem Reap hotel can arrange tickets and transport to most attractions in Siem Reap.