Phnom Bakheng, Siem Reap | Cambodia
Phnom Bakheng is one of the main attractions in Angkor Archaeological Park besides other temples. Locating 1.3 kilometers north of Angkor Wat and only 400 meters south of Angkor Thom, Phnom Bakheng has charmed numerous tourists to visit it again and again. Moreover, there is a temple on top of the mountain just like other majestic temples in Siem Reap. However, what makes this temple more fascinating is the fact that tourists have to walk from the bottom of the land in order to explore the temple that beautifully stands so proud like a soldier facing their enemies. The beauty of the temple on the peak of the hill of Phnom Bakheng along with the breathtaking views of the natural surroundings makes all the tiredness spent on walking worthwhile. On top of that, without a doubt takes place as one of the most spectacular spots in Siem Reap to watch the sunrise and sunset. You should definitely not miss this place when you come to visit Siem Reap.
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Phnom Bakheng is one of the oldest temple mountains in Angkor archaeological park, built by King Yasovarman at the end of the 9th century (889-910AD). Surprisingly, Phnom Bakheng is even older than Angkor Wat, making it become an ancient magnificent monument in the Angkor site. In the old-time, most of Khmer Kings believed in Hinduism including King Yasovarman; therefore, to demonstrate their respect toward their religion, the king built this temple on top of Phnom Bakheng as a dedication to one of the Hindu gods, Shiva. One interesting fact about this temple is the film director of Tomb Raider used Phnom Bakheng as one of the locations for them to shoot their film. The obvious reason is that Phnom Bakheng temple has such a striking beauty that it can spectacularly make the viewers be in awe to witness it yet it is also mysterious enough to make everyone wanting to find out more about it.
It is not a surprise to discover that the Phnom Bakheng temple is one of the religious symbols. Phnom Bakheng is a symbol of Mount Meru, which was known as a home of the Hindu gods. There were one hundred and four towers that were built in the same length over the four levels of Phnom Bakheng temple. From any one side, you can see thirty-three towers. It is to represents the number of gods who live on Mount Meru. Above that, we can see from the design of the temple that it is in Hindu style with the temples pyramids that bear seven layers. Interestingly, it was to represent the seven heavens in the Hindu religion.
To access to Phnom Bakheng, you have to get the Angkor entrance pass first. There are two ways to get an entrance ticket. First of all, you can reserve it online from the websites of the tour operations. Another way to get the entrance ticket is to purchase it directly at the official ticket center that is not too far from Siem Reap town, just 4 kilometers away. Furthermore, the ticket for a one-day pass is only $37, three-day for $62 and seven-day for $72. The ticket center will be opened every day from 4:30 am to 5:30 am so you do not have to worry that you could not get to Phnom Bakheng. Nevertheless, we suggest you get the ticket online as it is more convenient and can save a lot of your time. When you first arrive at the front, you can park your vehicles on the side of the roads. After that, you can begin your incredible journey to witness the mystical monument, Phom Bakheng. You should also notice that there were stairs made of stone from the ancient time when the Khmer empire ancestors built Phom Bakheng. In the past, we could directly walk straight to arrive at the top of the mountain. However, the authority did not allow visitors to use those stairs anymore due to the damages from old-age. As a result, visitors can spend their time walking from the side of the mountain with the man-made road that was made for tourists to walk and may take them 30 minutes to arrive. As a matter of the fact, you can only take photos there as a memory since the stairs also illustrate how architecture from the ancient time looked like before you take the path by foot to the top of Phnom Bakheng.
Although the way to get to the top of the mountain seems tiring, once you get to the top of Phnom Bakheng, all the tiredness will be gone in a second. The astonishing temple with the artistic design is standing tall to greet the visitors who wish to receive a different experience for themselves. Just like other temples in Angkor site, Phnom Bakheng temple offers travelers an ancient monument that bears a secret history that leads us to wonder how could one create something so majestic and magical like this. Over and above that, the remarkable scenery surrounding the temple is so overwhelming that you cannot find a proper word to describe how pretty Phnom Bakheng is from the top. Even though the temple on top of Phnom Bakheng has some damages, it does not stop this miraculous temple from leaving the visitors in awe.
Noticeably, tourists would often come to Phnom Bakheng either in the early morning or evening. The reason is Phnom Bakheng is most popular for being the ideal spot for tourists who want to watch the sunrise and sunset. Hence, for those who are interested in seeing the striking view of the sunrise and sunset, you should put Phnom Bakheng in your ‘must-see’ list. On one hand, if you have not known about this, Phnom Bakheng is one in the excellent places to watch the sunrise and sunset in Siem Reap. Since the mountain is around 80 meters tall, you can see most of the dazzling temples in the Angkor area just by being on top of it. Not only that, but you can also see the calming West Baray reservoir when you look at the east side of the mountain. This wonderful view is very healing that you may even find yourself forgetting all about the stresses you have faced in your daily life. Phnom Bakheng never fails to provide tourists a feeling of escapism from their worries. In addition, being able to watch the sunrise and sunset on top of Phnom Bakheng is an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience that no one should miss.
The peaceful sensation that visitors could feel while staring at the views of the surrounding along with the tranquil environment that Phnom Bakheng has the power to produce to tourists will surely make everyone falls in love with this amazing place. Nonetheless, to make your experience more enjoyable, you have to come early if you want to watch the beautiful sunrise or sunset. The authority has limited the number of visitors who can go to the top of Phnom Bakheng temple to 300 people at a time. It is to avoid being too crowded that exceeds the carrying capacity and to provide visitors an awesome experience that could make them return again. Therefore, we recommend you arrive at the mountain at least 1 hour before being able to access the top of Phnom Bakheng. Despite the usually relaxing environment, Phnom Bakheng can be quite hectic and hot during the peak season, thus, visitors should make sure to arrive even earlier and bring a bottle of water with you to quench your thirst.
To get to Phnom Bakheng, tourists can use their own car, hire a bus, Tok Tok, or ride a bicycle. Different vehicles provide different experiences. For car and bus, you can enjoy the views along the way to Phnom Bakheng like the splendid forest, the gigantic trees, sightsee the marvelous temples, and the way people in Angkor area move while being indoor. On the other hand, if you are more of an adventurous type of person, you can either choose to go with Tok Tok or bicycle. While using these two types of vehicles, you are exposed to the natural air in the Angkor area. It comes with another advantage for you to let the cold and chilly breeze touching your face and body, allowing you to feel even closer to nature.
In conclusion, when visiting Angkor archaeological site, climbing up Phnom Bakheng is a must. With all the eye-pleasing views and sceneries that it has to offer to visitors, it would be a waste not to witness such a magnificent sight. Also, the views of the surrounding area of Phnom Bakheng when the sun sets the light on them while we are standing on top of the mountain to watch the golden color from the brightness of the sun laying on those trees and temples are like a miracle. We strongly recommend you to visit Phnom Bakheng at least once in a lifetime for the experience you will receive when going there will be life-changing, and you will even find yourself wanting to come back to the same place over and over again.
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