Angkor Wat in Detail

The Angkor temple complex is massive. To be exact, it is the largest religious complex in the world. When we first thought of Angkor, we only thought of the quintessential image of Angkor Wat, but to our surprise, there was so much more. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest religious monument in the world and easily provides 2-3 days of exploring!

We wanted to share some of our favorite spots from our couple of days exploring the Ancient City of Angkor.

1. Angkor Wat

This is the quintessential image when you think of Angkor Wat, which makes sense because this is the temple named Angkor. We got up at 4am in order to get the the temple for the sunrise. We were so excited to get a front row seat to see such a wonderful site. 

Angkor at sunrise was picturesque.

Angkor at sunrise was picturesque.

A lot of people show up to sunrise! We were so glad we got there early.

A lot of people show up to sunrise! We were so glad we got there early.

We came back later in the afternoon. It was the perfect selfie lighting in front of the lake. 

We came back later in the afternoon. It was the perfect selfie lighting in front of the lake. 

Beautiful details. 

Beautiful details. 

We could look at the bas reliefs for hours.

We could look at the bas reliefs for hours.

2. Bayon

We call this the temple of faces. There are 54 towers around this temple, all with  4-sided bodhisattva faces as the tower top, representing the divine observation of Cambodia's four directions. It was for sure a temple that got even more interesting as we took a closer look.

From afar it's hard to tell there are 216 bodhisattva faces. 

From afar it's hard to tell there are 216 bodhisattva faces. 

Up close bodhisattva

Up close bodhisattva

No matter where you stand, someone is looking at you.

No matter where you stand, someone is looking at you.

3. Ta Prohm

The ruins of Ta Prohm was one of our favorites. It is known as the "tree temple" because it is covered in Knia trees which have overtaken the temple ruins. This is what was so attractive to us. Everywhere we looked was a photo op we did not want to miss. We can see why parts of Tomb Raider was filmed here. 

Knia tree growing over the temple.

Knia tree growing over the temple.

Kevin between the Knia tree roots.

Kevin between the Knia tree roots.

Is this a stegosaurus?  

Is this a stegosaurus?  

This Knia tree was insane! 

This Knia tree was insane! 

4. East Mebon

Our tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Chee, called this the Elephant Temple. We loved it because #elephants! This temple is not very big, but the guardian elephants scattered throughout the temple are impressive and make it worth a look. Additionally, we noticed the stairs were huge and found out this is because ceremonies with elephants would happen here and elephants have a big step. 

Khmer style symmetrical architecture.

Khmer style symmetrical architecture.

Very large steps!

Very large steps!

One of the guardian elephants.

One of the guardian elephants.

5. Neak Poan

Neak Poan was fascinating! First, we took a stroll across a huge lake to get to the Buddhist temple. The mirror lake was perfectly still and you could see every reflection. The clouds felt like there were all around us. Once you get across the lake, you get to see a quaint Buddhist temple sitting in the middle of a smaller mirror lake. Scerene indeed.

Kevin in front of the mirror lake.

Kevin in front of the mirror lake.

Stump and cloud reflections.

Stump and cloud reflections.

Buddhist temple in the central pond.

Buddhist temple in the central pond.

6. Preah Khan

Because Preah Khan is located at the far end of the Angkor complex there were almost no tourists when we were there. This nearly forgotten temple is tucked away in the jungle and reminded us a lot of Ta Prohm. We took our time and got up close and personal with this temple.

Overgrown knia tree

Overgrown knia tree

Brad through the window.

Brad through the window.

Kevin exploring the small corridors. 

Kevin exploring the small corridors. 

7. Terrace of the Elephants & Leper King

When the Khmer armies came back from battle victorious, the terrace of the elephants was where the celebration would happen. The large scale carvings of elephants were unreal. Just past the elephant terrace we came to the Terrace of the Leper King. It is said this is where the king's concubines lived. What was impressive to us was the entire structure, both inside and out, donned intricate carvings, mostly of women. 

Terrace of the Elephants.

Terrace of the Elephants.

Terrace of the Leper King

Terrace of the Leper King

Terrace of the Leper King carvings.

Terrace of the Leper King carvings.

8. Ta Som

The far end of Ta Som was the East gate. From the front it looks like a normal ruined gate, but one we passed through to the other side, we noticed it was completely covered in a knia tree. Tucked underneath the tree roots was such a wonderful carving. 

Run-down looking gate.

Run-down looking gate.

Carvings hiding under the knia tree.

Carvings hiding under the knia tree.

Knia covering the entire gate. 

Knia covering the entire gate. 

9. Royal Palace of Phimeanakas

The Royal Palace was another part of Angkor that seems to be overlooked by most tourists. It was the perfect spot for a rest. The palace is not overly impressive compared to many of the other more notable spots in Angkor, but once we made it to the top and looked down, we appreciated what the Royal Palace was in its hay-day. 

The doorways at the top.

The doorways at the top.

Column remnants.

Column remnants.

Corridors around the Royal Palace.

Corridors around the Royal Palace.

There were so many more structures, temples, and ruins around the Angkor temple complex than shown in this post. It would be nearly impossible to write one post covering every nook and cranny. Angkor was full of surprises at every turn and we are so happy to have encountered this ancient Khmer civilization up close. 

We are two en route for more detailed travel encounters.

At the end of days of exploring, our feet were rightfully filthy! 

At the end of days of exploring, our feet were rightfully filthy!