Angkor Wat: The lost kingdom of Cambodia

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Angkor Wat
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Aerial view of Angkor Wat
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Kbal Spean
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Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap
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Le Meridien Angkor, Siem Reap
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The Tonle Sap
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Banteay Srei

The temples of Angkor built in the early 12th century represent the epitome of classical Khmer architecture. It was in the 1860s that the jungle ruins were made famous to the western world by French explorer Henri Mouhot. It takes several days to visit all the temple ruins. Some of the main temple sites included in this itinerary are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre. If you intend to go off the usual paths, it’s best to have your local guide accompany you. Sample the multi-cuisine: Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Indian and Continental. Shopping is an exciting experience and the boat ride on Tonle Sap with the floating village is not to be missed.

Siem Reap

Arrive into Siem Reap, northwestern Cambodia. Meet your car and driver and transfer from the airport to your hotel. Overnight Siem Reap.

Roluos and Angkor Wat

Breakfast at the hotel. Meet your guide. Take a morning tour to Roluos and its ancient temples including Bakong, the first temple mountain of Angkor; Preah Ko, meaning ‘sacred bull’, built in 879 A.D. and the Lolei temple. Afternoon tour exploring Angkor Wat. The juxtaposition of Buddhist shrines, Shiva temples and entire scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata carved on the temple walls is extremely captivating. Watch sunset over Angkor Wat from the hill of Phnom Bakheng. Overnight Siem Reap.

Angkor Thom

Watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Return to your hotel for breakfast. Then proceed on a tour to Angkor Thom city and the huge Bayon temple brooding at its centre. Bayon is filled with engrossing bas-reliefs and over 200 massive faces carved on stone towers. An amazing (and pretty surreal) experience. Continue to the other temples of Angkor Thom- Baphuon and Phimeanakas, and the Terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. Each of these enthralling spaces has a drama all its own. In the afternoon, you’ll get the grand circuit tour including Preah Khan, Neak Pean and East Mebon temples. Overnight Siem Reap.

Temples and a boat ride

Breakfast at the hotel. Then a morning tour to the Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre temples. These are built largely of red sandstone. The carvings here are very different from the ones seen in the Angkor complex- much finer and immensely more detailed. There are some very interesting carvings of Shiva and Parvati on one of the temples. You might even catch an impromptu music performance by local musicians playing traditional Cambodian instruments. In the afternoon, take a boat ride on the Tonle Sap- a huge inland lake with its quaint floating villages and even a floating petrol station. The Tonle Sap is fed by a river that comes all the way from Phnom Penh, and you can occasionally see powerful motorboats that make the journey, packed to capacity, with many passengers perched precariously on the cabin roof! Overnight Siem Reap.