When you think about Siem Reap temples, the first image that comes to mind is usually and understandably Angkor Wat. Of course, Siem Reap is on the list of any travel fan and Angkor Wat is one of those sights to tick off the list. However, there are many more temples to explore in the Angkor complex and beyond. You can spend hours exploring these beautiful temples. Here are some Siem Reap temples you should not miss during your visit to Cambodia.
Bayon – The Temple of Faces
You’ll know this popular temple in the Angkor complex which you will probably have seen featured in films and in pictures. An amazing forty-nine towers stand in the temple and on each of which you can see four carved faces. You will be interested to see the different expressions on the faces carved into the stone and the sheer scale of the workmanship is outstanding. You can find Bayon near to the centre of the complex near to Angkor Thom. This temple can get busy especially at the hottest parts of the day as you can find a bit of shelter here, however it is definitely one not to miss!
Banteay Srei – The Ladies Temple
Historians say this pretty temple cut from pink stone was built by women. And the name Banteay Srei actually means Citadel of the Women. Set further away from Angkor Wat, your journey from Siem Reap will take you about 45 minutes in a tuk-tuk. But you’ll be glad you took the trip because this temple is beautiful. It’s a good idea to take your time to explore the towers, you will notice the intricate designs and carvings of both male and female deities. Looking at the amazing works you will see why it is sometimes called the art gallery of Angkor. You’ll see no other temple quite like it in Siem Reap. This temple is a great place to visit if you want to avoid the main crowds too.
Preah Khan – Jungle Fortress
One of the largest temples, you’ll discover Preah Khan set in the jungle, surrounded by a moat and walls with carved stone garudas. You might take some time to explore this grand temple. With its towers, ceremonial courtyards and shrines, you will probably get lost whilst walking through the connecting corridors. You might also be interested to know that Preah Khan is both a Buddhist and Hindu temple. It’s a very interesting temple to visit. Make sure it’s on your itinerary to visit.
Ta Prohm – The Film Set
As you enter this temple area and see the massive tree roots growing through the walls you’ll be transported to the film sets of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. It’s popular, atmospheric and very photograph-able. You will feel like an explorer discovering the temple for the first time. Well if you ignore the other tourists trying to do the same. As you can imagine this temple is high on the list for visitors. It can get very busy and expect to queue for that special photo too.
Neak Poan – Temple of the Lake
If you want to get away from the more popular temple areas then Neak Poan is the place to visit. You get to this small temple surrounded by a lake by walking across a pathway over the water. You won’t find much to walk around once you get to the temple area and it won’t take you long to explore. However, it is a nice experience to cross the lake and discover what will feel like a hidden temple.
Pre Rup – But Not At Sunset
You may be sold this temple as the perfect sunset spot, however, that is not the case anymore. Previous visitors have watched the sunset over nearby Siem Reap temples from here but today your view is shrouded by grassland and trees. Yes, you should visit this temple, however, don’t come at sunset, visit at a less busy time instead. The carvings and beautiful towers here are something to be marvelled at. You’ll love the setting too.
Ta Som – Some Alone Time
Your guide will take you here if you’re not part of a big group and you’ll definitely want to see this small temple. Most importantly you will have the place almost if not all to yourself. It may be small but this temple does not lack character and you’ll see why when you spot the trees and walls intertwined and undisturbed. Make sure you check out the tree at one of the entrances that almost covers the whole frame. Take plenty of photos too, there are so many great photo opportunities in this temple.
Ta Keo – The Mountain Temple
Ta Keo probably won’t be on your list when you set out to Angkor but it should be. This mountain temple is the tallest in the complex and surprisingly made completely out of sandstone. It’s a sight to behold even though it’s not finished and you’ll find fewer crowds here too! Just think, if the temple was actually finished it could have been more spectacular than Angkor Wat.
Thommanon – Well Preserved Sanctuary
Looking at the single tower at this temple makes you draw comparisons to Angkor Wat. The style of architecture here is very similar and photographers love it! When you see the faded and stained walls seem to glow in the wet season you’ll understand. Even though it has been restored, the temple was already in good condition before it was discovered. Today you will enjoy the beautiful carvings and temple construction.
What other Siem Reap Temples Can I see?
Yes, there’s, even more, to see in the Angkor Complex. With so many to choose from you’ll find it difficult to split your time and you will likely spend a few days exploring. There’s Phimeanakas where you can climb its steps leading up to the top of its pyramid shape. Baksei Chamkrong, where you can see a lovely carving of Indra. And also Phnom Bakheng, where you can watch the sunset over the impressive Angkor Wat.
Of course no visit to Siem Reap would be complete without taking in the outstanding wonder of the world Angkor Wat. If you visit at Sunrise expect a big crowd. But it really is as amazing as they say!