Visit Angkor Wat
The first view of Angkor Wat is one to be treasured forever, its five pineapple-shaped towers looming tall among the surrounding jungle, representing Mount Meru, the home of the gods in Hindu cosmology.
A wide, 500-metre-long ceremonial causeway, which was originally lined with nagas (serpents), leads to the central sanctuary from the outer wall; the sanctuary itself is surrounded by a square moat, some 200 metres wide and five kilometres long.
All around, the skill of the thousands of artisans who helped create the monument is clear. Intricate bas-relief friezes show King Suryarvarman II, who built the city, surrounded by courtiers with fans and parasols. Another shows him astride an enormous war elephant. Other sections show scenes from the Hindu epic Mahabharata - brave, weapon-wielding warriors doing battle with their enemies.
Elsewhere are images of sensual apsaras (temptresses), makaras (mythical water monsters) and singhas (lion guardians).
When you finally reach them, the five symbolic central towers can be climbed via a series of steep stairs, which historians believe were once reserved for high priests and the king himself. Today, anyone can do it, although it's best done slowly and steadily.
Top itineraries in Angkor Wat
Following the brutal years of the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia has bounced back. Uncover the country's fascinating and sometimes turbulent history as you discover that although compact, Cambodia contains a wealth of riches and treasures way beyond its diminutive stature.
Discover the wonders of the Mekong on this two week tour of Vietnam and Cambodia, travelling from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap.
Vietnam is blessed with such variety from the enchanting Halong Bay to the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi. Laos is a land of laid back people, gilded temples and the mighty Mekong river, while Cambodia lays claim to the awesome and ancient temples of Angkor.
Meet our Angkor Wat experts
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