Awestruck by Angkor Wat

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Cambodia, Featured | 3 comments

Hands down, Angkor Archeological Park is one of the top three (if not the top) sites that I have ever seen. Our travels have taken us to some amazing places and, although this visit is fresh in our minds, it could well be at the top of the list and remain there for a very long time. Between the two of us we’ve seen ancient sites such as Machu Picchu, the Roman Colosseum, Pompeii and Mayan ruins in Mexico, but none can compare to the breadth and impressiveness of one of the largest collections of religious temples in the world. Cambodia’s tourist numbers have skyrocketed in recent years, and this place is exactly the reason why.

Commonly referred to as Angkor Wat for it’s flagship attraction, Angkor Archeological Park spans over 400 square kilometers and houses some of the most exquisite Khmer (Cambodian) architecture and city remains from the 9th to 14th centuries.  The Khmer Empire dominated Southeast Asia during this time and their otherworldly power still shines through today. Former capitals, cities, and temples that fill the park represent a tremendous source of pride for Cambodia’s people (since 1863, an image of Angkor Wat has been prominently displayed on the nation’s flag). And due to the location of many of these structures (previously hidden deep in the jungle), they are all relatively well intact. Considering how awestruck we were by the design and detail, one thousand years post-construction, I can’t even begin to imagine how ahead of their time they originally were.

Visiting Angkor Wat will naturally bring you to the city of Siem Reap, only 6 kilometers away and the one nearby city from which to base your tours. This tourist-filled community has plenty of charm and is well complemented by a thriving night market and popular bar and restaurant area known as Pub Street. For our tour, we chose the classic tuk-tuk transportation option. For two days our driver, Phoewk, wheeled us around on his carriage slinging motorbike. It was 95 degrees with a scorching sun, and although I was initially concerned about not having a/c, our open air ride proved to be a total body dryer as the wind wicked away our dripping shirts between sites. With the heat, sweat, and, what one would assume redundant temples, you’d think we’d last only an hour a day.  Yet, regardless of the sweat factor and how relentless the heat was, I kept wanting to see more. It was award-winning temple after award-winning temple. They kept getting better and more unique. And parts of the drive brought us away from the more popular areas and into the more remote, rural countryside, giving us a chance to witness the lifestyle of Angkor’s citizens.

While touring Angkor Wat, I experienced wonder as if I was a kid again. Kat and I literally felt like we were on the set of an Indiana Jones movie, but it was even better because we were seeing the real thing. Angkor Wat will go down as a “best ever” in my lifelong travel column. And the feelings of mystique, curiosity, and astonishment will always stay with me. This historic place cannot be missed on any trip to Southeast Asia.

Click on the pics below to see a sampling of our visit to Angkor Archeological Park:



  1. Really enjoyed these pictures!

  2. So cool! This is definitely on my places to see list!

  3. Great pictures. Who is the cameraman? Love, Gram

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