Angkor Wat was one of my definite Top 10 Must-Sees for Southeast Asia. It combines several of my loves- archaeology, eastern religion & history- and it went above and beyond my already high expectations. I loved being able to roam through this beautiful 12th century temple and the many others nearby. When I got to Angkor Wat I was amazed to see how big this temple and the surrounding grounds and temples really were!
original map from here – edited for this post by me
Angkor Wat, which was in the capital of the Khmer empire, was the main Hindu temple of the entire empire. It has four gates, one from each direction, and those are surrounded by a moat. There are some smaller buildings inside the main walls. Dozens of buddhas are found inside some of nooks and lining hallways of different sizes, poses and conditions.
I was blown away by the outstanding attention to detail. It seemed that every surface was just covered in bas relief carvings of gods, goddesses, vines, flowers and other designs. It was truly spectacular.
I loved seeing all kinds of different buddhist iconography and beautiful small offerings of flowers all along the halls.
I was so excited to have my first moment of Buddhism (one of my favorite subjects I studied in college) on my very first day here. There were all kinds of Buddha statues set up where people were making small, silent offerings. Then there was this large Buddha statue with places to light and leave incense. I took two incense (one for Matt & one for me), said my own little request of the universe, bowed three times and left my incense and wishes there at this statue.
This was a statue of the Buddha that you rubbed his left foot for good luck. This foot was so much smoother and more rounded than the other; you could tell that people have been asking for blessings for a very long time.
When you go up to the main part of the temple, you have to have your knees and shoulders covered. No shorts or short shirts. No tank tops. We wore long skirts and brought shirts to cover our shoulders while we were up there.
After exploring the Wat and the other buildings inside of there, we walked through the grounds and out to two of the other gates. We laughed at monkeys playing with each other and rehydrated in the shade.
This was our favorite spot. This gate was right on the moat which made for a beautiful view. These walls were still very detailed and the best part was that no one was there. We sat there, had a few moments of meditation and relaxed for over 30 minutes and never saw another person down there.
Outside of the archaeological sites there were active temples, places where monks lived, pagodas and more. I loved this little temple. It had murals along the walls and there were these beautiful prayer flags hanging all around. It was so beautiful.
We spent most of the first day in Angkor Wat alone, but moved on to many other sites during our three days there. On my birthday, we made our way back to Angkor Wat for sunrise, and it was beautiful. We had the perfect spot sitting on the grass on a little ledge by the reflection pool. The sky started to turn from pitch black to a mauve-purple color; it was quite pretty.
Then the sun came up over the main, center tower of the Wat and the sky lit up. It was so stunning! Definitely worth doing.
Angkor Wat is one of those sites that’s on everyone’s Top 10 for Cambodia. It’s their big cultural & historical site, I mean it’s even on their flag. But the thing is, I think it’s one of those sites that truly is a must-see. Each person’s experience can be completely unique: 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, sunset, sunrise, detailed, breeze through. I mean, it was hard for me to not upload 100 photos of this site, and this is one of dozens in this area! Don’t worry, I have two more posts coming for you on the Angkor Thom area and 3 other surrounding temples! I can’t wait to share these with you guys!
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