Arrival into Siem Reap. Meet you car and driver and transfer from the airport to your hotel. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Breakfast at the hotel. Meet your guide. Take a morning tour to Roluos and its ancient temples including Bakong, the first temple mountain of Angkor; Preah Ko, meaning 'sacred bull', built in 879 A.D. and the Lolei temple. Afternoon tour exploring Angkor Wat. The juxtaposition of Buddhist shrines, Shiva temples and entire scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata carved on the temple walls is extremely captivating. Watch sunset over Angkor Wat from the hill of Phnom Ba Kheng. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Note: Please carry 2 passport sized pictures for the Angkor Wat photo pass.
Watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Return to your hotel for breakfast. Then proceed on a tour to Angkor Thom city and the huge Bayon temple brooding at its centre. Bayon is filled with engrossing bas-reliefs and over 200 massive faces carved on stone towers. An amazing (and pretty surreal) experience. Continue to the other temples of Angkor Thom - Baphuon and Phimeanakas, and the Terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. Each of these enthralling spaces has a drama all its own. In the afternoon, you'll get the grand circuit tour including Preah Khan, Neak Poun and East Mebon temples. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Note: There is a small local market next to the Ta Prohm hotel and you can find some really interesting bargains here - hammocks made of parachute nylon, tiny bronze statues of Shiva and Ganesh and some lovely silk sarongs.
Breakfast at the hotel. Then, a morning tour to Banteay Srey temple and Banteay Samre. These are built largely of red sandstone. The carvings here are very different from the ones seen in the Angkor complex - much finer and immensely more detailed. There are some very interesting carvings of Shiva and Parvati on one of the temples. You might even catch an impromptu music performance by local musicians playing traditional Cambodian instruments like the stringed Pin-Piet and the small wooden drums. In the afternoon, take a boat ride on the Tonle Sap - a huge inland lake with its quaint floating villages and even a floating petrol station. The Tonle Sap is fed by a river that comes all the way from Phnom Penh, and you can occasionally see powerful motorboats that make the journey. packed to capacity, with many passengers perched precariously on the cabin roof!
Breakfast at the hotel. Then, perhaps a last visit to Angkor. On the way back, visit Artisans D'Angkor, a center for traditional Cambodian handicrafts where you can watch the artisans at work. Return to your hotel. Check out and proceed to the airport.
Siam Reap in Cambodia is located north of Southeast Asia’s largest lake, Tonle Sap. This is the site of the world’s largest temple complex, one of the greatest wonders of the world. It was built in the 12th Century when the Khmer empire was at its peak. The sheer scale of the place spread over 400 km is quite overwhelming. It is the finest example of Khmer art and architecture. Huge four-sided faces of kings and Gods guard the temple gates. Nature plays an important part here as roots and branches of massive trees intertwine with the carvings, jutting out dramatically from the carved sculptures of Gods and temples.
Siam Reap is well connected by air with Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos. It is 465 km from Bangkok and can be reached by road as well.
Important Temple Ruins in Siam Reap:
Angkor Wat: This is the main temple complex - stunning in size and a masterpiece of Khmer architecture. The tall conical shaped pyramids are enclosed by stone towers connected by long galleries. The entire complex is surrounded by a wide moat. The intricately carved out bas reliefs in the galleries depict the stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Angkor Thom: Located 2 km from Angkor Wat is old capital Angkor Thom which was the centre of administration and the royal residence. Surrounded by a moat and a high wall it is said to have accommodate a million people and can be entered by five different gates. The south gate is the most visited. Here you can see the Baphuon Temple, the Bayon, the Terraces of Elephants and the Leper King and the temple of Phimeanakas - all spectacular sites.
Ta Prohm: This is one of the must-see sites in Siam Reap located near Angkor Wat and Bayon. What makes it a truly remarkable sight is the way the roots of trees have wrapped themselves around the temples and are actually holding the monuments together while tearing them apart. The gigantic roots of the fig and Banyan trees are a spectacular sight. Ta Prohm was left unrestored for years and the wild, untamed energy of this complex is quite special.
Banteay Srei: Carved in pink sandstone this temple was the women’s pavilion. It has the most delicate and well preserved carvings and bas reliefs. Smaller than the other temples, it is the most beautiful among the entire lot. It's about 25 km north of Angkor Wat.
Phnom Bakheng: This mountain temple is built on a hill offering a panoramic view of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. The hill represents the centre of the world, Mount Meru, according to Indian cosmology. It's a great place to watch a sunrise or a sunset.
Roluos Group: This group comprises of three temples, Preah Ko, Bakong and Lolei. The Preah Ko has the statue of sacred bulls at its entrance. Lolei temple is guarded by sacred lions. The carved doors, lintels and columns are exquisite. The Bakong is the most impressive temple, built in the 9th Century which became the prototype for other temples. The temples are located about 4 km from the Tonle Sap lake.
Neak Pean: is a small island shrine 3 km from Angkor Wat. Sculpted serpents encircle the base of the shrine. This is a holy Buddhist shrine and the waters are said to have healing properties.
Phnom Kulen: About 50 km north of Siam Reap is Phnom Kulen, the most sacred mountain in Cambodia. There is a Buddhist temple, a river and a waterfall in this area. The temple houses a large reclining Buddha statue carved out of a single boulder.
Kbal Spean: is known as the river of thousand lingas and is about an hour’s drive from Siam Reap. It is in a heavily forested area. The river bed is embedded with sculpted stone lingas. A waterfall completes the picture.
Le Meridien Angkor - Siam Reap
Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor - Siam Rea
Ta Prohm Hotel - Siam Reap
Pacific Hotel - Siam Reap
Angkor Outside view
Angkor T Prohm Roots
Ta Prohm Roots
It was in the 1860’s that the French explorer Henri Mouhot stumbled across the Angkor Wat ruins while exploring the Mekong river. The ruins were buried under thick forest cover and he practically unearthed the ruins while hacking his way through the forest. The rest is history. It takes several days to visit all the temple ruins but if you have limited time choose some of the main temple sites – Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei. An extra passport size photograph is required for the temple pass. If you intend to go off the usual paths, it's best to have a local guide accompany you for the area at one time had a number of land mines. The mines have been since cleared but it is best to be accompanied by a local guide for your own safety and security if you're going off the beaten track. Sample the multi-cuisine – Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Indian and Continental. Shopping is an exciting experience and the boat ride on Tonle Sap with the floating village is not to be missed.