10 top destinations when exloring Cambodia are should be added in your adventure.
Angkor Wat (meaning “City Temple”) is the most magnificent and largest of all Angkor temples and the top tourist attraction in Cambodia. Built around the first half of 12th century by King Suryavarman II, the temple’s balance, composition and beauty make it one of the finest monuments in the world. A huge rectangular reservoir surrounds Angkor Wat which rises up through a series of three rectangular terraces to the central shrine and tower at a height of 213 meters (669 feet). This arrangement reflects the traditional Khmer idea of the temple mountain, in which the temple represent Mount Meru, the home of the gods in Hinduism.
2. Bayon Temple
Part of the world famous destination of Angkor, the Bayon temple features a sea of over 200 massive stone faces looking in all direction. The curious smiling faces, thought by many to be a portrait of king Jayavarman VII himself or a combination of him and Buddha, are an instantly recognizable image of Angkor. Built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII as part of a massive expansion of his capital Angkor Thom, the Bayon is built at the exact center of the royal city.
3. Banteay Srei
Although officially part of the Angkor complex, Banteay Srei lies 25 km (15 miles) north-east of the main group of temples, and therefore often considered a separate Cambodia attraction. The temple was completed in 967 AD and is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still clearly visible today. Banteay Srei is the only major temple at Angkor not built for a king, instead it was constructed by one of king Rajendravarman’s counselors, Yajnyavahara.
4. Koh Ker
Koh Ker was the capital of the Khmer empire for a very brief period from the year 928 to 944 AD. In this short time some very spectacular buildings and immense sculptures were constructed. The site is dominated by Prasat Thom, a 30 meter (98 ft) tall temple pyramid rising high above the surrounding jungle. A giant Garuda (mythical half-man, half-bird creature), carved into the stone blocks, still guard the very top, although its partially covered now. Left to the jungle for nearly a millennium, Koh Ker was one of Cambodia’s most remote and inaccessible temple destinations. This has now changed thanks to recent de-mining and the opening of a new toll road.
Kratie is a small town located on the banks of the Mekong River and is dominated by a central marketplace surrounded by old, French colonial buildings. There’s no large scale tourism, but plenty of backpackers pour through here during the peak season. It is the place in Cambodia to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins, which live in the Mekong River in ever-diminishing numbers. It is estimated that there are between 66 and 86 dolphins left in the upper Cambodian Mekong area.