Buddhist Arts - a photographic journal

Angkor Temples, a cultural treasure

Angkor Wat - causeway entrance (1 of 4)

Angkor Temples – more than just Angkor Wat

Visiting Angkor temples, or the multiple temples around the main Angkor Wat site, takes some preparation and willingness to spend a few days traipsing about the countryside around Siem Reap, Cambodia.

We traveled to Angkor Wat in November 2001. Since then we’ve been to every country in SE Asia in addition to other predominantly Buddhist leaning countries. As I write this post from my office in my home in Seattle, listening to the wind blowing outside my window, I remember the heat, nearly oppressive at times, and the bright sunshine. All the people, the children, the monks and nuns, practitioners, worshippers and tourists like us, from all over the globe, coming together in witness to the awe of the remaining temples dotting the countryside.

Angkor Temples – getting around

Angkor Wat - erhu player

Before we went in 2001, we read a few books about Angkor Wat, as we always like to know as much as we can going into a new place. We chose to follow Dawn Rooney’s Angkor which at the time was the 4th edition published in 1999.


Dawn Rooney’s Guidebook

In her introduction to the 4th edition, Dr. Rooney says this about the area, “What is Angkor? Many people who have not been to Angkor think it is only one monument – Angkor Wat. This erroneous idea probably arose because it is the most frequently visited and written about. Angkor, though, covers an area of 200 square kilometers (77 square miles) in north-western Cambodia. Many of the sites within this area have collapsed and only traces of some remain, and the grounds around others have not yet been cleared of mines. This guide includes descriptions of 40 accessible sites.” (Angkor, Dawn Rooney, 1999, p. 14).

The reference to mines was removed in the 2006 edition. If you have the time, Angkor temples are mostly easily accessible and safe. We were pretty much assured that they were all cleared by the time we got there in 2001. We witnessed the devastation from the mines in the guise of many people without limbs, however.

Thanks to Dawn Rooney’s wonderful guidebook, we visited 23-24 Angkor temples in 6 days. We started out early in the morning after a hearty breakfast at our hotel. The beds were very hard which helped us get out of them so early. I think I remember we slept quite well due to all the hiking in the oppressive heat during the day. We always stopped at about noon or so and went back out with our driver at 2PM after a lunch and swim. It was an excellent way to visit all those temples.

To see photos and descriptions of everywhere we went, please visit my travel site that I initially built in 2001 with my Angkor Wat photos. The site has evolved over the years to its present form today.