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Angkor Wat, Bild: Guitar photographer / shutterstock

Five must-see temples in Cambodia around Siem Reap

Until the Industrial Revolution, Angkor was the largest city in the history of mankind. The restored temples of the former megalopolis are now considered a landmark of Cambodia. The most famous temple is Angkor Wat. The central tower of this building rises 65 meters. Many visitors don’t realize that lesser-known ruins in the temple area are similarly spectacular.

The story

The decorations and reliefs in the ruins tell the story of the Khmer. In addition to Hindu and Buddhist religious motifs, depictions of immense battlefields are carved into the stone walls. Angkor Wat means “temple of the city” in German. The temple was built in the 12th century by Emperor Suryavarman II. Several wars have shaped Angkor’s thousand-year history. One of the biggest enemies was the Kingdom of Cham (today’s Vietnam), which conquered the city in the meantime. In addition, towards the end of the 12th century, the main religion was changed from Hinduism to Buddhism. The changes in power and religion led to the region being shaped by many different cultures.

Although the temple area can be visited without a tour guide, a guided tour is worthwhile. Information boards have been set up at the most important sights. However, interesting anecdotes about the history and architecture of Angkor are only told by the local tour guides.

The temples

The temple area covers 400 square kilometers. If you don’t just want to see the buildings near the entrance, you have to be mobile. Drivers are easy to find in Siem Reap and near the temple area. A chauffeur is also worthwhile to avoid the largest streams of tourists. It is best to start the day outside the main temple and visit it towards the end. There are plenty of spectacular temples to see. Below are the five most important sights.

Angkor Wat

Near the main temple Angkor Wat, visitors gather even before the gates of the park open in the morning. The sunrise tours are popular. The sight of the temple is spectacular. The temple structure comprises three levels and five towers and is one of the largest religious structures in the world. The ascent to the top offers an impressive view.

Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom Temple
Angkor Thom, Image: karinkamon / shutterstock

Angkor Thom is a temple complex located about 10 minutes drive from Angkor Wat. After the change to Buddhism, it became the center of the city. Here you can see impressive buildings such as the Elephant Terrace (former parade ground) or the five stone gates.


Bayon is a special temple in the Angkor Thom temple complex. Its unique selling point is that some huge faces were carved into the stone. In total, the temple comprises 54 towers and 216 faces of different sizes.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm, Cambodia
Ta Prohm, Image: DeltaOFF / shutterstock

What is special about Ta Prohm is that the temples here are overgrown by jungle. Giant trees with mighty roots sometimes stand in the middle of the stone buildings on them and make for an adventurous sight.

Banteay Srei

The Banteay Srei area is an emerging tourist region in the temple area. Here you will find the “Temple of Women”, which is characterised by its filigree decorations. It is also worth visiting a flower garden or viewpoint nearby with a view over the Kbal Spean National Park.

The city of Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the nearest city. Their international airport is the starting point for all domestic and foreign tourists coming to Angkor Wat. From Siem Reap it is just under an hour by tuk-tuk to the temple area, a little less by taxi. Tuk-tuks are small two-wheeled carriages that are pulled by a driver on a motorcycle. A trip is worth it just for the experience. For inexperienced visitors, however, the hectic and bumpy streets of Siem Reap take some getting used to.

In Cambodia , it is customary for the price to be negotiated. Anyone who directly accepts the first offer when taking a taxi risks paying too much. With a little skill, price reductions of up to fifty percent of the initial price can be negotiated. Bicycles or motorcycles are also rented in the city. The functionality of the machine should be checked before taking over.

In addition to the temple cities, there is more to see in Siem Reap. The city is home to a circus, the National Museum, several shopping malls and many massage studios. While strolling through the streets, you will encounter the aromas of Asian cuisine and incense sticks from the restaurants and shops. Everyone has the chance to try a fried tarantula or crocodile meat from the Dutch oven. These are tourist attractions. If you are looking for traditional food, it is better to order beef lok lak or fish amok.

Result: A holiday in Siem Reap promises a vibrant city and fabulous temple ruins in the heart of a multicultural multiculturalism.