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Angkor Temple Tour Trail: Beyond the big 3

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Our first day on the Angkor Temple Tour Trail took us to the Big Three: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm, but there is more to see at the UNESCO World Heritage  Angkor Archaeological Park than just those.

We routed out a self-guided tour based on the ‘Big Circuit’ and ignored some of the suggested itineraries and ‘best times to visit’ as a way to attempt to escape the crowds. At a few of the temples we felt like we were there alone, which was a stark contrast from our first day of temple exploring and while watcing the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Angkor Temple Tour: Temples

The nine temples we chose to tour were: Phnom Bakheng, Prasat Kravan, Sra Srang, Banteay Kdei, Pre Rup, Eastern Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Poan and Preah Khan. At the end of our tour, we again rode through the gates of Angkor Thom, from north to south, past Bayon and Baphoun Temples and then we had one last peek at Angkor Wat as we continued the drive back to the hotel.

Angkor Temple Tour: Phnom Bakheng

Angkor Temple Tour: Phnom Bakheng - A hotspot for sunset, we skipped the crowds and visited shortly after sunrise.

A hotspot for sunset, we skipped the crowds and visited shortly after sunrise.

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Phnom Bakheng - Remains of the 108 towers

At one time there were 108 towers at Phnom Bakheng, but many have crumbled only leaving a few standing

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Phnom Bakheng - Views of Ankgor Wat in the distance

Built on a hill, we had far views from Phnom Bakheng in all directions and could even see Ankgor Wat in the distance

Angkor Temple Tour: Prasat Kravan

Angkor Temple Tour: Prasat Kravan

Looking eastward at Prasat Kravan, doors only open on the east side

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Prasat Kravan - Interior carvings in brick

These were the first carvings we saw in brick

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Prasat Kravan - carvings inside of the temple

Well preserved carvings have survived on the inside of the temple

Angkor Temple Tour: Sra Srang

Angkor Temple Tour: Sra Srang - only the foundation survives

Nothing left of this temple but the foundation, this is the former royal bathing pond

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Sra Srang - also known as the Pool of Ablutions

Sra Srang is also known as the Pool of Ablutions

Angkor Temple Tour: Banteay Kdei

Angkor Temple Tour: Banteay Kdei

Walking up to Banteay Kdei

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Banteay Kdei - While the buildings are not in the best condition, the carvings are striking

While the buildings are not in the best condition, the carvings are striking

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Banteay Kdei - occupied by monks until the 1960s

Banteay Kdei was occupied by monks until the 1960s

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Banteay Kdei - A colorful shrine can be seen through the door of the temple

A colorful shrine can be seen through the door of the temple

Angkor Temple Tour: Pre Rup

Angkor Temple Tour: Pre Rup

The approach to Pre Rup was staggering

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Pre Rup - The main tower at Pre Rup

The main tower at Pre Rup

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Pre Rup crematorium

It is thought by some archeologists that Pre Rup was a crematorium and this box is where the cremation took place

Angkor Temple Tour: Eastern Mebon

Angkor Temple Tour: Eastern Mebon

Eastern Mebon was built in the same style as Pre Rup, the top platform looks almost identical

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Eastern Mebon - intricate carvings over doorways

The intricate carvings over doorways have survived over time, even though the rest of the building is deteriorating

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Eastern Mebon - elephant sculptures sit at the corners of Eastern Mebon

Large elephant sculptures sit at the corners of Eastern Mebon

Angkor Temple Tour: Ta Som

Angkor Temple Tour: Ta Som

The temple at Ta Som

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Ta Som - Four faces look down from the gated entrance

Four faces look down from the gated entrance

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Ta Som - This sacred fig tree has practically taken over the eastern entrance

This sacred fig tree has practically taken over the eastern entrance

Angkor Temple Tour: Neak Pean

Angkor Temple Tour: Neak Pean: The long boardwalk to Neak Pean

The long boardwalk to Neak Pean took up past vastly different landscape than we’d seen in Cambodia

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Neak Pean - The final approach to Neak Pean

The final approach to Neak Pean

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Neak Pean - The island temple of Neak Pean sits in the middle of a square pond, surrounded by four smaller ponds

The island temple of Neak Pean sits in the middle of a square pond, surrounded by four smaller ponds

Angkor Temple Tour: Preah Khan

Angkor Temple Tour: Preah Khan - The approach to Preah Khan is similar to Angkor Thom with the large gate and the 'Churning of the Ocean of Milk'

The approach to Preah Khan is similar to Angkor Thom with the large gate and the ‘Churning of the Ocean of Milk’

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Preah Khan

This large temple was sprawling…and crumbling

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Preah Khan

Like most of the temples, statues have been stolen or demolished over the years

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Preah Khan - Detailed carvings have weathered time as nature is slowly taking over

Detailed carvings have weathered time as nature is slowly taking over

 

Angkor Temple Tour: Preah Khan - Statues (although now headless) guard the entrance to Preah Khan

Statues (although now headless) guard the entrance to Preah Khan

We want to know: Have you been on an Angkor Temple Tour? Which temple was your favorite? Why? Tell us in the comments!

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Angkor Temple Tour Beyond the Big 3 JetSetting Fools

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