There are certain things in the world that can be treated as alternative escape from the shackles of modern life. Slipping into a quiet historical location or a natural park are some of the lovely escapes that one can think of. If you wish to have a perfect escape your tourist destination must be an abode to ‘Great Escape’. That location must offer you bit of everything but in their totality. History, nature, architecture, mysticism, romance et al. must be there on the platter.
This guide introduces you to one such greatest tourist destination in Asia and it is called as Angkor archeological park. Situated in a picturesque location of Siemreap province, Angkor Archeological Park presents you with the world’s largest Hindu temple complex called Angkor Wat and the fortified city called Angkor Thom.
History of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is the monumental state temple of Khmer empire built by Suryavarman II. The main deity of this magnificent temple is Lord Vishnu whose ten incarnations (Dasa Avataras) are thought to be the symbolic representation of evolution!
Historians opine that the various temples located within the Angkor Wat complex were built between 7th to 11th centuries by the rulers of Khmer dynasty. Since then, Angkor Wat remained as a holy symbol of Khmer empire. Even today, this historical monument is regarded as the national pride of Cambodia and hence it features on the country’s national flag.
There are many curious facts about Angkor Wat. Archaeologists and historians propound that this temple is a symbolic construction which denotes the mythical grand mountain called Meru. According to Hindu scriptures, Meru is the abode of angels and also houses the world of Lord Brahma called as Satya Loka (World of Truth). There are other theories that suggest that the temple has been built as a mausoleum for King Suryavarman.
After 14th century onwards, this place became under Buddhist influence and to the present day you can see the reminiscences.
Reaching to Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is around 6KM from the present day town called Siem Reap which has got an airport. Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh is well connected to the world by air. If you are visiting the neighboring countries like Thailand or Vietnam, you can straight away fly to Siem Reap as direct flights are available. If you want to enjoy river riding you can do so and reach Siem Reap from Phnom Penh by boat. Boat riding might last for 6 hours.
Siem Reap town is the place to get the lodging and many hotels are available.
Getting To The Temple
Unlike other world famous tourist spots, Angkor Wat offers you a unique way of commuting locally. Owing to the close proximity of the temple to the town of Siem Reap, you can simply hire a bicycle and peddle your way to the temple complex.
If you are unwilling to peddle, take a bike and drive down to the temple. But as a tourist you cannot really drive the motorbike but hop behind a local driver. The star of the local community is the Tuk Tuk, a hooded carriage hooked to a motorcycle which can carry a small group of 3-4 people. Cars or vans can also be hired from Siem Reap but they might be expensive and less engaging than the other transportation.
Places To See
Angkor archaeological park is a vast place admeasuring 240sq. miles approximately and consists of 45 temples. One would take at least a week to visit all of them. The most famous temples that could be visited in couple of days stay are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Preah Khan, Bayon Temple and Elephant Terrace.
You can hire a professional guide to plan the visits that can match with your itinerary. Typically you can visit the above said famous temples in one day. If you can spare another day then visit few more exotic places like Karavan, East Mebon, Pre Rup and Ta Som.
You can do shopping at more than 25 facilities in the town of Siem Reap. From home decors to books to quilts to silk-wear you can shop till you get tired.
There is no need for you to carry the local currency (Riel) as the US dollars or Thai Baht are accepted everywhere.
Things You Must Know
Cambodia is relatively peaceful country and do not impose stringent rules on tourists. But while visiting the holy temples you must ensure not to wear revealing cloths but to wear clothes that cover you from top to bottom. People who come in mini skirt, shorts, tank tops etc. would be turned away by the temple administration.