The Walled City of Angkor Thom

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The Walled City of Angkor Thom

The last and the largest of the Khmer empires capital cities, Angkor Thom, was built by King Jayavarman VII in the late twelfth century. The state temple, Bayon, is the main attraction and is one of the big three attractions in all of Siem Reap.

Entering from the east through the Victory Gate, I had a long bike ride through the jungle, which was a nice break from the blazing sun that had me hot and tired after biking around most of the petit circuit in the heat of the day.

As I approached the center of the city I decided to take a right turn to see some of the older, less visited temples. I am happy I did. They were very interesting to see since they are in their natural state being reclaimed by the surrounding jungle. Very little restoration or maintenance seems to be happening at Preah Pithu and nearby Temples.

Preah Pithu




A little further south is North Kleang and Suor Prat Temples which are in a similar condition.


After a quick iced coffee break I climbed up the steep stairs of Baphuon Temple and then made the loop through Phimeanakas Temple, and Terrace of the Elephants.


View over Angkor Thom


Making my way to the most spectacular of the temples in Angkor Thom I was contemplating what it would be like to live in a city like this at its height of power. It’s beautiful to look at, but I imagine the vast majority of the people who lived here did not have a very comfortable life. Someone had to lug all these stones around, and it certainly wasn’t the King.

Bayon is known for the 200 smiling faces it is decorated with. Many believe these faces signify the King looking down upon his people.

Bayon faces

Bayon temple

After the long day of climbing temples and biking almost 20 miles around the petit circuit of Angkor Wat, I rode back to my hotel, relaxed in the rooftop swimming pool and indulged in a delicious Khmer barbecue.

I really enjoyed seeing the temples of Angkor Wat. It was certainly an incredible experience. I think that one day was just barely enough time if you are traveling on a budget to see the petit circuit and the major sights. It would have been nice to buy the 3 day pass so I could have taken my time and possibly see more around the grand circuit.




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  • Kaely

    Are Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat the same city? And what does Angkor mean?

    January 7, 2016 at 6:32 am
  • timothy aikman

    at least the king is smiling…

    January 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

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