Key Places - Cambodia
UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Archaeological park in Cambodia is the largest religious monument in the world, spread over 400 km². Angkor's iconic presence has come to symbolize Cambodia itself. The park contains the ruins of buildings form the 9th – 15th ancient capitals of Cambodia. Angkor Wat (Capital Temple) was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu built for the Khmer King Suryavarman in the early 12th century as his state temple and eventual burial chamber. It transformed into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century. It is the best-preserved temple at the site, and the only one to have remained an important religious site since its foundation. The temple is built in a high classical style of Khmer architecture.
At Angkor Thom you will see the Bayon Temple intricately decorated and featuring an assembly of serene stone faces it is said to represent the intersection of heaven and earth.
Please note that the temples of Angkor are sacred religious monuments to the Khmer people. It is important to dress modestly when visiting. You will not be permitted to visit the highest level of Angkor Wat without long sleeved clothing and shorts to the knees as a minimum.
Combining Khmer culture, French colonial architecture and the modern high rise Phnom Penh offers much to the visitor. With a population of 2 million, the Cambodian capital is also its commercial economic and political centre. Highlights include the sumptuous Silver Pagoda with 5000 silver floor tiles located in the Royal Complex, the Royal Palace and the ancient Wat Phnom temple, set apart from the bustling streets. The city's Psar Tuol Tom Pong (Russian Market) or the art-deco Psar Thmei (Central Market) offer an opportunity to do some bartering. You can stroll along the river front promenade where there are many cafes and restaurants and boutique hotels. You will find galleries and silk boutiques in the side streets. A short distance from central Phnom Penh is the Tuol Sleng museum, the former prison also known as S21, and the killing fields, a harrowing reminder of the Khmer Rouge atrocities of the 1970's. The museum can be reached by taking a tuk tuk.
Seam Riep means "Siam Defeated". Located in the north west of Cambodia, and the capital of the Seam Reap region, the city is the gateway to Angkor Archaeological Park just 3km away. Throngs of tourists arrive here to visit the sites of the ancient temples. Other nearby ruins include Beng Mealea, Bantaey Srei, and the holy mountain Phnom Kulen.
Once a small village Seam Riep now hosts a large expat community and is geared up for tourism. Built along the banks of a central river, Siem Reap is a mix of colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the old French Quarter, and around the old market. In the centre, traditional Aspara dance performances are staged, there are numerous craft shops and silk farms to visit, and a surrounding landscape of rice-paddy fields, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake.
"We've never been on an organised tour before but this was a wonderful first experience. David was marvellous and the group was friendly, diverse and interesting...."
Eric and Ros Fraser