All I can say is WOW! For days 5 and 6 of our AmaWaterways Mekong river cruise and land tour, we explored Cambodia’s Angkor temples. Angkor Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site containing temple ruins of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th century.
The first temple we explored was Angkor Thom, built in the late 11th century. You may recognize this temple if you’ve watched Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie.
In the afternoon, we were brought through the rural Cambodian countryside, about one hour from Siem Reap, to a smaller temple, Banteay Srei. You’ll also see it spelled Bantei Srei, Bantei Srey, or Banteay Srey. Built in the 10th century, its size is miniature compared to the grandiosity of the other Angkor temples.
The following day saw us at Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. Indeed, the temple is the emblem of Cambodia, as seen on the nation’s flag. Built in the 12th century to honour the Hindu god Vishnu, Angkor Wat means the Temple City and covers an area of about 500 acres (200 hectares). When Cambodian society started embracing Theravada Buddhism in the late 13th century, the use of Angkor Wat transitioned to a Buddhist temple.
Our next temple visit was Ta Prohm, the “Kingdom of Trees.” Tomb Raider was filmed here as well!
It’s mistakenly believed that Angkor was rediscovered by French explorer Henri Mouhot, when in fact the Khmers knew its existance and other Europeans documented their experience prior to Mouhot. It was he, however, who made the Angkor temples well known to the West.
What an experience this trip has been. Please revisit the blog on Thursday and come along on this journey as we make our way through Cambodia along the Mekong River. Follow me on Twitter @BlaineTravels for quick updates.