We will take you at your hotel at 8:00 am and drive to the Angkor site. We will begin to explore the complex of Angkor Thom. This Royal city was first built under the reign of Udayadityavarman II in the 11th century. About one century later, it was destroyed when the Chams from Vietnam rose up against the Khmers invaders, sacking the city. It was subsequently rebuilt by the king Jayavarman VII at the end of the 12th century. Its vast walls, some 6m wide, 8m high and 13km in length contain many monuments. The area within the walls was more spacious than any city in Europe at the time and must have supported a considerable population, estimated at about one million. Inside the walls the king, his relatives and officials, military officers and priests took residence, the rest of the people lived outside of the great enclosure, between the two artificial lakes. Our visit will begin with the South Gate, a beautiful introduction to Angkor Thom with well-restored statues of asuras (demons) and gods lining the bridge. Inside the complex, we will first visit the Bayon Temple.
This temple mountain, built by Jayavarman VII, is situated in the centre of the city of Angkor Thom. It is a three-tiered pyramid with a 45 meter high tower, topped by four gigantic carved heads representing Avalokiteshvara but with the features of Jayavarman VII. They gaze out to the North, South, East, and West, and wherever you stand in the temple, you will be surrounded by 54 towers all crowned by gigantic faces, with their unnerving smiles. Unlike his predecessors who had worshipped the Hindu deities of Shiva and Vishnu, Jayavarman VII adopted Mahayana Buddhism as royal religion. This sets the Bayon apart from many other Angkorean monuments. We will continue to the Elephant Terrace, which owes its name to its outstanding depiction of these animals and the Terrace of Leper King, which presents a magnificient sculpture of King Yasovarman, popularly known as the leper king. The original of this statue is in security in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. In the morning, we will also visit Preah Khan, a labyrinth of pavilions, halls and chapels in a vast area encloses by four walls before to go to eat at a local restaurant and in the afternoon we will visit Ta Phrom and Angkor Wat.
Ta Phrom was a monastery built by Jayavarman VII as a residence for his mother. Ta Phrom has been controversially left to the destructive power of the jungle by French archaeologists to demonstrate the awesome power of nature. It has been largely consumed by the jungle and as you will climb through the dilapidated stone structures you will see many giant trees growing out of the top of the temple itself. At every turn you will expect to see Indiana Jones or Lara Croft step out from behind a fallen pillar. As such, it is one of the most regularly visited temples, with visitors often arriving during the middle of the day to take advantage of the protective canopy the forest has spread above the temple. Ta Phrom looks as many of the monuments did when European explorers first laid eyes on them.
Then, we will visit Angkor Wat, the largest and most impressive of all the temples. Angkor Wat was built between 1113 and 1150 by king Suryavarman II and dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu god of preservation, although some people believe it is actually dedicated to the king himself, as his mausoleum, because it faces to the west, which represents death. It is the best preserved of all the temples. Its layout and its scale are simply breathtaking, the wall surrounding the enclosure measures 1,000 by 800 meters and the moat, said to represent the oceans of the world is 200 meters wide. Angkor Wat is an architectural allegory of the mythical Mount Meru. In Hindu mythology, Mount Meru is the centre of the universe, where the Gods lived, represented by the central tower of Angkor Wat. This amazing temple homes the longest continuous bas relief in the world, which runs along the outer gallery walls. As the end of the day will approach, we will proceed to the hilltop temple of Phnom Bakheng, climb the imposing remains and meet the crowd for a truly memorable sunset. An optional elephant trekking to the top of the hill is also available.
On your request, we will take you on your hotel early in the morning (5:00-5:30am) hoping to catch the sunrise on Angkor Wat before having breakfast near the temple.
Tour Price Included
Entrance fees and sightseeing tours by tuktuk or private aircon vehicle
An experienced English-speaking local guide
1-day Angkor pass
1 liter of drinking water per person
Tour Price Excluded
Personal travel insurance (compulsory!)