The Wonders of Angkor: The Grand Tour

Angkor Wat is a must-see for most world travellers, but many of them don’t realize that Angkor Wat is just one part of the Angkor archaeological park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site includes scores of temples and ruins from the Khmer Kingdom. There is enough to see at Angkor to keep you busy for days. Visitors with only one day will want to see the famous Angkor Wat and ruins of the Khmer capital Angkor Thom; but the Grand Tour, which travels all around the 400 square kilometres has many more sights to see.

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

Just inside the inner enclosure of Angkor Wat, the north “library” building is a good spot to escape the crowds and watch the sunrise from behind the temple.

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

Bayon Temple, the major temple in Angkor Thom, is recognized by its distinctive face carvings.

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

Restored carvings in Angkor Thom.

 Angkor Wat Grand Tour

Bantay Kdei is a popular stop on the Grand Tour, and offers plenty of opportunity to explore Khmer ruins.

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

Restored carvings in Bantay Kdei.

 

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

Looking down from the top of Bauphon Temple in Angkor Thom.

 Angkor Wat Grand Tour

Just outside of Angkor Thom, Chau Say Tevoda is a series of small temple structures completely rebuilt from ruins. It is a lesser-known gem of the Grand Tour.

Stone elephants guard the corners of East Mebon.

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

The Terrace of Elephants in Angkor Thom.

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

Neak Pean is surrounded by the waters of the Preah Khan baray, one of the ingenious reservoirs built by the Khmer empire.

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

The artificial reservoir, or baray, at Preah Khan survived for centuries, even though the temple city of Preah Khan was lost to the forest.

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

Pre Rup temple mountain is in full sun, but the view is worth the hot climb.

Angkor Wat Grand Tour

When the Khmer cities and temples were abandoned, many were lost to the forest. Ta Som is just one example where stone and forest have become one.

The unending corridors of Preah Khan were once overrun by jungle, and speak to the vast complexity of the Khmer Empire.

This photo essay first appeared on Travel + Escape.