The ancient Khmer capital of Angkor is today one of the most remarkable and impressive sights in all of Asia. For much of its 600 years, the Angkor empire’s regional power was unrivalled, and under a number of its ‘god-kings’ such as Jayavarman the 7th the artistic exploits of the Khmer kingdom went unrivalled. With Cambodia at peace again, and newly-developed tourist facilties, fine hotels and several daily flights into the nearby town of Siem Reap, the treasures of Angkor are now being rediscovered by the outside world.
Foremost amongst these is the 12th Century temple of Angkor Wat itself . Taking the lengthy sandstone causeway across the temple’s huge moat transports visitors into a world of Hindu and Khmer legend and artistry. Your TUI guide will explain the stories behind the stunning bas reliefs that line nearly a kilometre of the complex’s inner walls. From here, enter the main temple through the Gallery of a Thousand Buddhas and, if the steep and perilously narrow steps don’t deter you, climb the central tower representing the Abode of the Gods, Mount Meru, for superb views over the temple and surrounding countryside.
We journey on through the magnificent South Gate of the fortified city of Angkor Thom to the Bayon, where more than 200 massive stone faces of the Hindu deity Avalokiteshwara make for one of Angkor’s most dramatic sights. Walk the Terrace of Elephants nearby, and explore another of Angkor’s remarkable experiences: the jungle-covered temple of Ta Prohm, where gigantic snaking roots wind in and out of the pavilions, corridors and crumbling walls of a grand structure which once boasted over 600 resident dancers, now reclaimed by towering jungle trees and screeching flocks of parrots.