Siem Reap is making Cambodia standing out competently in terms of tourism capability. The large quantities of temples in Siem Reap has been scooping the tourists’ interests all over the world. Tied from a powerful history in culture and prestigious heritage, Siem Reap was the center of where such greatness began blossoming. Hundreds of Siem Reap temples displaying to the light in worship, dedication and greatness purpose of creations.
Throughout time, the Khmer Empire was the unmatched powerhouse with high influence in arts, religion, architect and even astronomy. With such a scope of knowledge, our ancestors were able to construct monuments and legacy to represent the greatness of their time. As well as strong mobility and morale in warfare to sustain peace and prosperity in the long hundreds of years. Without further ado, here are the amazing Siem Reap temples you should see at least once.
You might also want to know about: What to do in Siem Reap from morning till night?
Amazing Siem Reap Temples You Should Visit
1. Angkor Wat
Once resting in the center of the Khmer Empire, lies the biggest archeological complex ever built among all Siem Reap temples. The majestic temple that dazzles with aging structures, ruins and endless carvings upon all surface of the sandstone. This breathtaking Hindu monument started its construction in the middle of the 12th century to dedicate to the god, Vishnu.
Angkor Wat is best known for its most exquisite appeals of sunrise synergy behind and atop the center of the summit. King Suryavarman II has bestowed Cambodia a very stunning lasting legacy with numerous carvings and stories for every generation to come. The second noticeable thing about Angkor Wat is the countless portrays of murals and statues within almost the entire structure. The breathtaking view from the first enclosure across the hallway to the hidden center can fulfill any explorer’s dream. If you ever wonder why the view is so perfect, that is because the entrance corridor is a passage for the royal lineage, their advisors and governors only. Whereas the adjacent doorways are for citizens and elephants to pass through.
Only Angkor Wat can best this next sublime temple of Siem Reap, which is no other than the capital city of Angkor Thom. Bayon temple or also known as Angkor Thom was the first temple with its unique impressions that embodies Buddhism. Jayavarman VII built this absolute majestic structure in the year 1181-1220. In means to open to additional religion of Buddhism, thus Bayon existed in such a signifying beautiful form. The four leveled heritage rains down smiles onto all visitors from anywhere around the world. With stories of old and the scenery of its livelihood and time, Bayon temple is a must-see temple of Siem Reap. Formation of towers with four faces and divine smiles roaming within the Bayon complex.
When you’re there, you will notice that the structure can be a little small to move around in. The reason behind this was, in theory, the King built this majesty in quite a rush and had to build it on top of an older monument before it.
3. Preah Khan
Located in the grand circuit tour of the archeological park, hidden within the deep trees is another beautiful city temple. With the most welcoming first impression, it’s the stunning hallway entrance sided by hollow forest saturates the scene with mystery. The unique complement of the aligning poles of the carved Buddhists making Preah Khan’s sandstone even more alluring. With some similarities to the iconic Ta Prohm temple, Preah Khan has a few spots where the enormous Resin trees take roots atop the ancient structure. In the year 1191, King Jayavarman VII built this temple along with other monuments after his victorious recapture from Champa. With the name Preah Khan, it can be translated into “Holy Sword”.
This city was known to be the Buddhist university and was built to honor his graceful father King Dharanindravarman II. However, the signature structure of Preah Khan locates at the Northeast within the gate, the only building ever with rounded columns. Within the complex that fills with blooming murals, mythic beings and kings that would edged its way onto your Siem Reap temples list.
4. Phnom Bakheng
Dated back to the first capital city of the Khmer era, this mountain top heritage was the greatest of its time. During the reign of the most powerful king Yasovarman I, who established a spanning territory, this was the signifying monument of his victories. The spectacular Phnom Bakheng today has become the most popular sunset destination and mountains view of all Siem Reap temples. Tourists are lining up for the clear view of the sky above the surrounding tropical forest of the park. The hiking experience around the side of the mountain under the woods would turn this visit even more gasping.
King Yasovarman I built Phnom Bakheng to worship the Hindu deity for his ambitious triumph in 907. The word Phnom is mountains and Bakheng derives from Sanskrit where “Ba means the creator of all things” and “Kheng means power”. The location of Yasothor (the capital’s name) was chosen here because the mountain situated right between Phnom Krom and Phnom Bok.
5. Banteay Samre
Given the popularity from all the temples of Siem Reap, you may find Banteay Samre to be very underrated. Idling in the area of Preah Dak district rests the miniature temple with the characters as remarkable as Angkor Wat. Banteay Samre is able to maintain plenty of its artistic form and structure well from erosion, unlike that majestic Angkor Wat.
The mysterious thing about Banteay Samre was no stone scripture or records to tell when or who built this glorifying citadel. However, archeologist believes this built alongside Angkor Wat and within the reign of Suryavarman II because of the empirical features of the overall structure. The main entrance gate, the fair window bars of the enclosure, to the roofs and top of the centerpiece, the similarities between the two are quite vivid. If you are amazed by how Angkor Wat shines its beauty upon you, then this shall be you next worth it winner.
6. Ta Prohm
There’s no doubt about it that Ta Prohm has the most mind-blowing scenery for anyone that comes across it. The temple captivates in most of what nature can take hold of an ancient civilization. Life-size roots spread over and across, groping the structures from above from its massive pillars of tree trunks. The roots spread wide and far like living tentacles of its pale scale embrace firmly onto the sandstone exterior. The eroding ruins covered by moss and sprouts give off an atmosphere out of this world and time. Jayavarman VII built this royal palace to dedicate to his mother and father and mentors for their knowledgable teachings.
7. Phimeanakas Temple
Lies behind the royal terrace of the elephants is a pyramid built from the early 11th century during the reign of King Suryavarman I. The thousand-year structure is Phimeanakas which also means “Celestial Palace”. The high vantage spot gives quite a peaceful perspective in the midst of the quiet depth of nature. It’s perhaps common already that you see stone figures of mythical animals stand to guard the stairway and edges of the monumental pyramid.
There’s an old tale said that this temple was where a nine-headed spirit Naga in the form of a woman lay to rest. Waiting for the king’s company every night in her chamber before drowsing away into sleep. If the king were to miss a single night to see her, he shall lose his and doom would befall upon his great kingdom. If the tale intrigued quite a bit, feel free to see what such a spirit chamber looks like.
Welcome with the beautiful perspective shot of stilted stone aisle that contrasts vibrantly against the greenery of the scene. In the distant entrance, you can see the crowned tip of Baphuon’s structure which you will soon climb atop. The decent view from the top and the gentle colors of the clear view aisle are the features making Baphuon the temple you should consider. And the slow stroll inside the shades of the wall and the corridors of columns will also be quite a sensation. Since you are going to see Bayon temple, might as well leap forward a few extra hundred meters and you’re already there. This grandeur Hindu temple came to shape by king Udayadityavarman II in his time between 1050 – 1066.
9. Banteay Kdei
It would take days to check out the numerous temple sites of Siem Reap of their own interesting state and features. As our first honorable mention that seems to shadow the iconic rooted Ta Prohm is Banteay Kdei temple. However, what makes Banteay Kdei a more desirable temple is the entirety is much smaller and takes less time to sight-see. The tight-knit temple of maze briefs a soft peaceful ruins atmosphere to the air with the surrounding woods. With its signature of the tree embraced structure, destination well worth your consideration if you’re more into a quieter environment. Reign of King Jayavarman VII in the 12th century was when the temple finished building. By now you should be able to spot the similarity of the four-faced towering entrance.
Another honorable mention of our list is Thommanon. Still a well stood library-like structure, Thommanon has many visible art and carvings of gods for visitors to enjoy. Rather so, Thommanon located in a much quieter place, just right after the entrance of Victory gate of the small circuit tour. As it is relatively small you will waste no time to enter and explore the Hindu based temple by King Suryavarman II. The design is closely similar to the ruined Angkor Wat, almost untouched by nature, the beautiful surface of Thommanon seems age quite less. As a result giving a better view and edge of some interior arts.
It’s certain that it would be a miss of opportunity of any tourist to skip out on Siem Reap temples. You best prepare your schedule perfectly with proper ahead booking of hotels to ensure the insightful adventure of your life. If you were to choose Siem Reap as your first traveling adventure, then it’s a bet that you won’t regret. As every notch of the temples of Siem Reap can light up worldly new experiences. Along with the embedded roots of culture and arts that will expose you to to your core. Places of sightseeing, to dine, to a night out and whole more. No divine pixel of screens can match your eyes, come see it yourself.