Today rise early to catch the spectacular sunrise over the world’s largest religious ruins of Angkor Wat and discover this mighty temple at dawn, regarded by many as the quintessential Angkor experience. After exploring the ruins in detail led by your professional tour guide, return to the hotel for a late leisurely breakfast.
The religious citadels of Angkor Wat are the “crowning jewel” of Khmer architecture and one of Asia’s most magnificent archaeological ruins. Constructed under the reign of Suryavarman II (1113-1150), Angkor Wat is covering an area of 480 acres encircled by an enclosure wall nearly four miles long. The temple’s greatest sculptural treasure is its 1-mile-long bas-relief that wraps around the walls of the outer gallery along with the 2000 figures of Khmer Devas and Apsaras.
Optional Angkor Dining Experience (subject to supplement charges):
Later this afternoon, depart to explore the encroaching jungle Ta Prohm, also known to be the undisputed capital of the “Kingdom of the Trees”. Once home to 600 exquisite dancers, Ta Prohm is a wondrous site, with giant fig and kapok trees strangling the ancient stonework in a photogenic interplay of man and nature. This temple has been featured in several Hollywood movies such as Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, and Two Brothers.
Continue to discover the ancient fortified city of Angkor Thom, built in the 10th century by the greatest Khmer ruler, King Jayavarman VII (1181 – 1201). Travel to the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom. Walk along the 8m-high laterite wall (500m) of the ancient city to the relatively unvisited and magical East Gate. The crematoria built against the outside of the city wall are best seen from up on the wall and give rise to the popular name of ― Gate of Death. Then take another 1.5 Km walk to Bayon temple “The Giant Smiling Faces temple”. The structure of the giant faces of Bayon temple is staggering in its construction and most Angkor specialists agree that it is one of the finest examples of classic Khmer architecture. Its third level is stunning – 49 towers are adorned with 172 smiling faces of the omnipresent Avalokitesvara. Sixteen chapels inside the structure indicate its religious importance, while on the outer perimeter over 1,200 meters of exquisite bas-relief record scenes of daily life from 11th century Angkor.
Move on to visit the nearby Terrace of the Elephant, and the Terrace of the Leper King to view their detailed stone carvings. From there walk through the shaded parkland to visit the triple-tiered mountain temple of the Baphuon, also known as the Pyramid temple in Angkor. As the sun begins to set, walk to the Ta Kav Gate (West Gate of Angkor Thom) to view the beautiful sunset over the rice fields and the reflection of the golden light over the city gate.
Overnight in Siem Reap
If the town crowds are getting you down, here is one of the best escapes to take you beyond Siem Reap’s limits.
In the foothills of Kulen Mountain, lies the Bos Thom Community Forest, 1100 acres of protected forest inhabited by the former elephants of Angkor. For 22 years, these elephants have given rides to visitors in the temples of the world heritage site. Today, they roam free in their natural habitat and are living testimony to a changing world. With 75 remaining captive elephants in Cambodia, protecting this amazing animal is more critical than ever. A visit to the Kulen Elephant Forest will help the elephants of Angkor and all elephants in Cambodia through the KEF’s long-term objectives, for we believe in the power of education and tourism as drivers for conservation.
8.00 a.m., enjoy a 1-hour scenic drive to the Kulen Elephant Forest sanctuary where you will learn about the project, enjoy nature and interact with elephants.
A Morning with Elephants (8.00 a.m – 2.00 p.m)
Afterward, continue to discover the jungle temple of Beng Mealea. Originally enclosed by a moat nearly the size of Angkor Wat. Undiscovered for centuries, Beng Mealea is one of the few temples of which elevated wooden walkways allow you to walk above the ruins’ collapsed galleries and towers while shaded by the jungle canopy, giving a very ‘Indiana Jones’ feel to the experience.
Return to your hotel and enjoy free time at leisure.
Overnight in Siem Reap
This morning take a break from temples and head to Kampong Phluk “Harbour of the Tusks”, a fascinating fishing community on the fringes of the magnificent Tonlé Sap Lake, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. Embark on a captivating boat trip to see its glory as you pass through the floating village where the fisherman and their families live in stilted houses. Relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery dominated by the tranquility of the lake that dots the landscape. Enjoy Khmer lunch at a local restaurant.
Optional: Experience local traditions and Siem Reap’s atmospheric countryside
You will visit a Buddhist monastery – offer alms to a Buddhist monk to earn some merits in Buddhist tradition and practice the arts of giving followed by a blessing in the Pali language from the monk, the way the locals do for the wishes of good luck and happiness in life. Then Wander through the nearby Bakong temple, Angkor’s first mountain temple dating back to the 8th and 9th centuries and still remarkably well preserved. Next soak up the views of the rural village, paddy fields, and swaying palm trees while crossing quiet lanes by ox cart.
Enjoy some free at your leisure until it’s time for the transfer to the Siem Reap Angkor International Airport for your flight home or next destination.
Pub Street – the nightlife hub of Siem Reap
Angkor Wat at sunrise
Angkor Wat temple
Ta Prohm temple
The giant smiling faces of Bayon
Takav Gate of Angkor Thom at sunset
Kulen Elephant Forest sanctuary
Kulen Elephant Forest sanctuary
Beng Mealea temple
Apsara Dance Performance
Floating village on Tonle Sap Lake
*** End of Service ***
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Uncover the the glory days of the Khmer empire while exploring the temples of Angkor.
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