Derived from the Sanskrit word 'nagara', Angkor literally means 'city', and contrary to common belief, Angkor is not only one, but hundreds of temples. The temples inside Angkor Archealogical Parkwere built between the 9th and 14th century AD at Angkor. This region served as the capital of the Khmer Empire in Cambodia. Built for King Suryavarman II in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument ever built. Dedicated to the Hindu supreme god Vishnu, Angkor Wat is still today one of the wonders of the world and one of the major reasons many first-time visitors visit Siem Reap and Cambodia.
Angkor Wat is one of the ancient wonders of the world and the biggest religious structure ever built.
Angkor Wat has five lotus-shaped towers, a larger central tower, and four smaller surrounding towers. These represent the five peaks of Mount Meru, which according to Hindu belief is the abode of Hindu deities and the centre of the continent Jambudwipa. Built between the 9th and 14th centuries AD during the height of Khmer power to be the administrative and religious center of that vast kingdom, the many temples that make up the complex, including Angkor Wat, reveal a rich and interesting religious and cultural history. It is one of the wonders of the world and the first point of call for most people during their travel to Siem Reap. To get the most out of the visit, it is best to read up in advance so you can better appreciate the relevance of the carvings and structures.
Notes about admission and Angkor temple passes
All foreign visitors must posess a valid admission ticket / Angkor temple pass to visit the temples inside the Angkor Archaelogical Park. Temple passes can be bought at the main entrance booth and comes in three different variations:
One day (US$ 20) - only valid for one day
Three days (US$ 40) - valid for three days witin a week
Seven days (US$ 60) - valid for seven days within a month
Digital photos are taken at the time of purchase and the temple passes are personal and not transferable.
As from June 2009, the Angkor temple passes do not longer have to be used on consecutive days. They are only valid for the number of days printed on the cards, but can be used within the period of one day, one week and one month respectively.
We believe the extended validity is a good way for travellers to break-up their temple sightseeing and hopefully it will also encourage more travellers to explore some of the other sights and activities Siem Reap has to offer. To make the most of your visit to Angkor Wat, many people find it useful to have a local guide who will explain the intricacies of the temples. A good guide book can also be handy – many prefer reading up a bit in advance to more appreciate the structures and bring a guidebook from back home, but it's also possible to purchase one at one of the local markets or just outside the temple gates. For a wide selection of books on the Angkor temples, as well as Cambodia and Southeast Asia in general, we would also suggest to browse the local markets and pay a visit to Monument Books in Siem Reap which has the biggest selection of books in town.
Books and Further Reading
Angkor: Cambodia's Wondrous Khmer Temples
by Dawn Rooney
6th Edition (2011)
Perhaps the most comprehensive guide to the Angkor temples. Dawn Rooney is a great source of information and this illustrated book contains useful background information on Khmer history, religious beliefs and legends depicted on the bas-reliefs, as well as descriptions of architectural features and detailed maps and floorplans of the different temples. Highly recommended.
Maurice Glaize - The Monuments of The Angkor Group
Born to a family of artists in Paris, Maurice Glaize was a French architect and archaeologist, and conservator of Angkor from 1937 to 1945.
His popular and definitive 1944 guide to the Angkor Monuments remains one of the most informative guides available today - more than half a century later. You can read it online or download the fully illustrated text for free at www.theangkorguide.com