Unique Asia Travel & Tours
Visit Cambodia, Kingdom of Wonders
Angkor World Heritage  circuits and areas
Tourist introduction and digest

This summary describing destinations and routes in Angkor shall allow a first overview concerning location and main charakteristics of Angkor's monuments. For that purpose different parts of the Archaeological Park and its surrounding will be presented in the order of common itineraries. Another short introduction more focused on history and architecture is offered on our page Angkor temples. Details, background information and a better pool of images can be found on the other pages belonging to our main menu headline "Angkor".  

There are two round tours in the Angkor Archaelogical zone, each of them usually a full-day excursion. They are called the "Small Tour" and the "Grand Tour" or the "Small Circuit" and "Grand Circuit". Most Angkor monuments of touristic interest are located along one of these roads, except Banteay Samray, which is 4 km away from the Grand Circuit. Both round tours use the same road from Siem Reap along Angkor Wat to the centre of Angkor Thom.

This core area, Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, if studied more extensively, also requires a full-day excursion. This webpage lists its monuments separately, though they could of course visited on a Small Tour as on a Grand Tour. There are further ancient Khmer monuments outside the main Angkor archaeological zone, the Roluos group 15 km to the southeast and Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean 20 km to the north being included in the Angkor ticket. Other smaller structures can be visited witout ticket.

__________

Angkor Wat und Angkor Thom

Das berühmte Angkor Wat ist das südlichste Tempelgelände im Archäologischen Park von Angkor, der sich nördlich von Siem Reap befindet. Das bedeutet, nach der Abfahrt an Ihrem Hotel zu den Tempeln von Angkor kommen Sie normalerweise am Wassergraben des Angkor Wat an, er ist auf jeder Seite einen Kilometer lang.

Angkor Wat Lion guardian at causeway and central Bakan
Angkor Wat is the biggest ancient temple building in the world, the embodiment of classic Khmer architecture, and a miracle of construction work. It is recommendable to visit the mirror pool inside the temple compound for sunset, but not to start your Angkor itinerary at the Angkor Wat on the morning of the very first day. The afternoon light is much better to visit Angkor Wat. If you start exploring Angkor at the Angkor Wat, all other temples afterwards will only be a second helping. But when visiting Angkor Wat later on, it will be the final boost of your Angkor journey. Even better are two visits, in order to gain more comprehensive and lasting impressions. Particularly in the case of Angkor Wat, a licenced guide is really helpful for seeing more details and learn more about them.

Ta Prohm Kel and Bakheng
After passing the western entrance gate of Angkor Wat you can see a very small structure on the left side, a little bit hidden in the forest. Its name is Ta Prohm Kel, not to be confused with the much larger Ta Prohm. It once was a temple of an ancient hospital compound.

Farther northwards you arrive at the eastern foot of the only natural hill inside the forested archaeological zone. It is called Phnom Bakheng. The Bakheng temple on top of it was the first major monument erected in Angkor. It's nickname is "first Angkor". There are two pathes leading to the top. The southern one can be used for an elephant ride. Phnom Bakheng is Angkor's popular sunset point.

Baksei Chamkrong and Bei Prasat
At the north-eastern foot of the hill, visible from the road, is the nice small pyramid called Baksei Chamkrong, it is in the Bakheng style, too, but slightly later. A smaller structure nearby is the three-tower temple Bei Prasat, it is from the same period called style of Bakheng.

South Gate Angkor Thom
The road crosses the South Gate of Angkor Thom. This gate is famous for Angkor Thom's emblematic "face towers" and the row of giant sculptures forming the railings of the causeway. 1.5 km to the east and west of the gate are the corner temples on the city walls of Angkor Thom. Those small structures called Prasat Chrung can only be reached by walking (or biking) on the city walls.

Bayon
The centre of the squarish Angkor Thom is the enigmatic "face-tower temple" called Bayon. It is famous for its delightful carvings of enourmous size, too, with huge battle scenes and small depictions of everyday life.

Baphuon
To the north of the Bayon is the so-called Royal Square, also called Victory Square. At is northern end is the tourist main car park of Angkor with small restaurants. The Royal Square is surrounded by many monuments. North-east of the Bayon is the 150 years older Baphuon, besides Angkor Wat and Bayon one of the three largest temple mountains or pyramids of Angkor. It is almost completely the result of an elaborate scientific reconstruction work with its original stones, finalized in 2011.

Phimeanakas and Preah Palilay
Neighbouring the Baphuon to the north is the enclosure of the former Royal Palace with the Phimeanakas step pyramid as the only remaining major structure inside its compound. Further north you can visit a charming small Buddhist structure, Preah Palilay.

Terraces of Elephants and of the Leper King
In front of the Royal Palace, forming the western rim of the Royal square, is the Elephant Terrace decorated with huge reliefs. The smaller Leper King Terrace further north has more detailed sculptural carvings.

Preah Pithu and Khleang
Immediately behind the restaurant area you can find group of 5 smaller pyramids called Preah Pithu, situated in the jungle. The eastern edge of the Royal Square is a group of 12 towers called Prasat Suor Prat. Two older structures called Khleangs are elongated halls just a few meters behind them.

Monument 486 West Prasat Top

To the west and east of the centre, closer to the gates of Angor Thom, there are two hidden structures rarely visited by tourists. They are called West Prasat Top and East Prasat Top or Monument 486 and Monument 487 respectively, the latter one also named "Mangalartha", that's the name of its builder, a Hindu priest. It is the last Hindu temple built in Angkor, from the end of the 13th century.
__________

Small Circuit

      
The Small Circuit road leaves the central Royal Square of Angkor Thom eastwards. It crosses the Victory Gate, which is located 500 m north of the seldom visited East Gate.

Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda

Outside Angkor Thom there are two medium-sized and very similar temples on both sides of the road.  Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda are examples of the classical Angkor Wat style from the first half of the 12th century.

The Small Circuit road crosses the Siem Reap river close to an inconspicuous ancient stone bridge, Spean Thma.

Ta Keo and Ta Nei
The next major monument on the Small Tour is the impressive temple pyramid Ta Keo from the second half of the 10th century. Huge scale restoration work is in progress now (2014).

Behind Ta Keo the Small Circuit road turns right. At this corner there is a trail to the north to the hidden structure Ta Nei, a smaller and less visited version of the most frequented jungletemple.


Ta Prohm trees
Angkor's jungletemple No.1, of course, is Ta Prohm, which is the next major compound along the Small Circuit Road. You can enter that flat temple of enourmous size from the west and leave at at the opposite side, where your driver can wait for you at the eastern car park. Ta Prohm is remarkable not only for its stone-cracking trees, but as a work of art, too. It is one of the many heritage monuments founded by the Buddhist king Jayavarman VII.

Banteay Kdei and Srah Srang
There is another similar huge structure from the same Bayon period, located immediately to the south-east to Ta Prohm, it is called Banteay Kdei. In front of it (to the east) is the historical reservoir Srah Srang. It is an idyllic sunrise or sunset point. South of Srah Srang, reachable by using a minor road branching off the main road, is a Buddhist private temple built as early as the mid 10th century, it is called Bat Chum.

Prasat Kravan brick wall carving
On the way back to the Angkor Wat area and Siem Reap you will see the five Prasat towers of Prasat Kravan on the left side of the road. They are noteworthy due to interior bas relief decoration.
__________

Grand Circuit

The Grand Circuit road leaves the central Royal Square of Angkor northwards. It crosses Angkor Thom's North Gate. In this area there are ruins of minor stuctures, Prasat Tonle Snguot and Krol Romeas.

Preah Khan tree and double storey building
The highlight of the Grand Circuit is the Preah Khan temple. It is the largest flat temple in Angkor and once was a whole city. Preah Khan was dedicated to Jayavarman VII's father.

Prasat Prei and Banteay Prei
To the north of Preah Khan you can find two smaller temples from the same Bayon period, Prasat Prei and Banteay Prei. Not many tourists visit these delightful sites.

Neak Pean and Krol Ko
Neak Pean is located exactly to the east of Preah Khan, on an island in a former reservoir. Neak Pean is an unusual structure with a circular central platform surrounded by many pools symmetrically.

To the north of Neak Pean, on the other side of the Grand Circuit road, there is another rarely visited small compound called Krol Ko. It is one more structure from the Bayon period (Jayavarman VII). Many interesting pediment carvings, most of them depicting Buddhist scenes, are restored and displayed on ground level.

Ta Som gate tree and Devatas
At the north-eastern corner of the Grand Circle is another temple from the same time. Ta Som is famous for one of the most impressive examples of a strangler fig on top of a stone monument covering its walls with roots.

East Mebon quincunx and relief
The East Mebon was a temple on an island in the former East Baray, the most important Angkor reservoir, but already dried up in medieval times. This Mebon has the best examples of lintel carvings in the Pre Rup style.

Pre Rup pyramid and enclosure
Pre Rup is the hugest structure from the 10th century. The temple mountain was founded by King Rajendravarman II. It is believed to have served for his funerary, too. But there is little archaeological evidence for this.

On the opposite side of the road, close to the car park of Pre Rup, is a small Prasat called Leak Neang, once it belonged to Pre Rup.

Behind Pre Rup the Grand Circuit meets the Small Circuit at the Srah Srang mentioned above, the reservoir originates from the reign of Rajendravarman II, too..
__________

East of Angkor

The temples of Angkor's predecessor capital Roluos are located on both sides of the National Road No. 6.

Preah Ko Prasats and relief
Preah Ko was the ancestor temple inside the palace compound of Roluos-king Indravarman I (877-890). Preah Ko is famous for its excellent stone carvings above doors and false doors.

Bakong sandstone pyramid and brick tower
The most impressive structure of the Roluos group is Bakong temple mountain. It was the first Khmer state temple built in the shape of a pyramid. It became a prototype for the temple mountains of Angkor, such as Bakheng, Pre Rup, Ta Keo, Baphuon, Angkor Wat and Bayon.

Lolei inscription and towers
The Lolei temple to the north of NR6 was an ancestor temple similar to Preah Ko, built by Indravarman's successor, Yashovarman I, who shifted the capital to Phnom Bakheng, thereby becoming the founder of the new capital Angkor.

Trapeang Phong roof and Devata
The three major Roluos sites can be visited with an Angkor ticket only. There are smaller structures in Roluos. Access is free, but they are not easy to find. Preimonti was an earlier palace temple like Preah Ko. Trapeang Phong is an exciting remote single temple tower (Prasat), but can often only be visited with a boat.

Toteung Thngai and handicraft in Roluos
Toteung Thngai consists of trilithic sandstone doorframes only, but lots of them. Prasat O Ka-aek to the west of Preah Ko is broken. Almost nothing remains of Trapeang Srangae to the northeast of Bakong, except dead straigt moats across the jungle.

Chau Srei Vibol complex
There is a rarely visited huge temple compound 13 km to the north-north-east of Roluos called Chau Srei Vibol. It has a temple on the top of a natural hill and some dark aisles and courts at the foot of the hill. It is a tranquil place.

Phnom Bok Prasats
Phnom Bok, 7 km further north and situated to the east of Angkor, is the highest hill in the plains of Angkor. 600 steps lead to the top. The temple on Phnom Bok is one of the hidden gems of Angkor for those looking for the remote sites not disturbed by tourism.

Banteay Samréi temple
Banteay Samré is located halfway between Phnom Bok and East Mebon, which is at Angkor’s Grand Circuit. Banteay Samré is the most important flat temple from the Angkor Wat period. It consists of concentric courtyards in a very sound condition and is crowded with deep-cut pediment carvings and mural basreliefs.

A small and very silent site is Prasat Tor at the north-eastern corner of the former reservoir East Baray.
__________

North of Angkor

There are three historical sites of touristic interest to the north of Angkor, but a little bit farer away than Roluos or those temples in the west and in the south. On the way to Banteay Srei you could visit the private landmine museum.

Banteay Srei fronton and tower

Banteay Srei is a must-see for Angkor enthusiasts. Many consider this small temple to be the greatest Angkorian achievement in art, because of its sheer beauty and abundance in skillfull decoration. Access requires an Angkor ticket.

Kbal Spean carving and waterfall
Only 10 km farther north is one of the two "rivers of thousand Lingas". Kbal Spean is reachable via a 2 km long jungle track. The location is delightful, with a small waterfall, and the kind of attraction almost unique: underwater stone carvings and more reliefs with mythological scenes at the boulders flanking the river bed.

Phnom Kulen waterfall and Buddha
There is one more place with underwater-Lingas on the plateau of Phnom Kulen. Access to Phnom Kulen requires an extra ticket. Main attraction are imposing waterfalls and a Buddhist pilgrimage site with a huge rock-cut statue of a reclining Buddha.
__________

West of Angkor

Only very few travelers visit the western area of Angkor. There are many monuments in the vicinity and north of the West Baray, but, indeed, they are not must-sees. Relatively small structures in ruins do not attract busloads. However, some sites here are worth a visit just for their tranquility, for example Angkor Thom's West Gate.

Banteay Thom jungle temple
The largest and most exciting jungle monument in the western area is Banteay Thom from the Bayon period, very remote and difficult to find. A few kilometres south of it, Prei Prasat is a single tower with a Mandapa hall.

Prasat Sampeau and Prasat Sralao
Prasat Sampeau farther north is not bigger, but the best example of a so-called "fireshrine" (Vahnigriha) in the Angkor region. Prasat Sralao is in ruins, most of its intrinsic carvings are in museums. A tree strangling one ruin may attract you.

West Baray and West Mebon
The major attraction in the western outskirts of Angkor, of course, is the West Baray with the small West Mebon. The West Baray is the largest ancient Khmer monument, and the largest medieval reservoir outside China.

In the surrounding of the West Baray are some smaller structures, only recommendable for unwavering Angkor enthusiasts, but in a very nice setting, you can enjoy impressions of an untouched rural Cambodia here, recommendable for a mountainbike or motorbike expedition. Small historical structures are Ak Yum, Spean Memai, Phnom Rung, Kok Po, Neam Rup and Prasat Char.
__________

South of Angkor

There are two ancient Khmer temples inside Siem Reap town, rarely visited by tourists, but quite charming and very interesting.

Preah Enkosei and Wat Athbea
Two Prasats can be found in the modern monastery called Wat An Kau Sai close to the Siem Reap river, in the northern part of the city. In the southern outskirts is the larger compound of Wat Athvea from the Angkor Wat period, all its buildings are very sound condition.

Phnom Krom sunset point
The southernmost monument in the Siem Reap area is the temple on top of the only hill at the Tonle Sap lake. It is called Phnom Krom and sometimes visited as Siem Reap's sunset point, pretty rewarding. The temple is from the early Angkor period called Bakheng style (begin of 10th century) and very similar to Phnom Bok.

Recommendations:

Unknown temples are small and remote, but romantic and charming. Discover the secrets
... more
Apart from circuit tours we offer an alternative, visit Angkor's temples in chronological order
... more
Prasat Bakan: The largest Khmer temple compound is not Angkor Wat, but Prasat Bakan, remote and ... more
Boat Trips: Angkor may be unsurpassed, but there are more world class tourist destinations close to ... more
Cambodia is a perfect destination for a combination of studytrip, shopping, and beach relaxation
... more

Quick inquiry

 

Our Services:

- Airtickets domestic and worldwide
- Bus and Boat Tickets
- Visa arrangements
- Hotel or Guesthouse reservation
- Transportation rentals
- Private or shared tours in Angkor
- Guided tours in many languages
- Holiday packages
- Tailor-made roundtours
- Pick-up service by car, mini-van, Bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap and, or Siem Reap to Bangkok, or any others place in Thailand. The Cambodian and Thailand drivers are both very fast, skilled and trust drivers. My driver will advise at every step what to do between border. My guide will take you through the border and we have an office on the border to explain the trip and border crossing. Easy, fast, comfortatble and reliable services.

Our Specials:

- Forgotten temples off the beaten track
- Temple visits in chronological historical order

 Unique Asia Travel and Tours

is an independent travel agency and tour operator registered in Cambodia, based in Siem Reap near Angkor.
We are not part of an international holding, we help to develop local tourist business.
Our company is run by locals and 100% owned by Cambodians.
For details, please check our page
Our company