There are more temples in the 400+ square km Angkor Wat Archaeological Park near Siem Reap, Cambodia than I can count on our map. With a $40 three-day pass, we visited 15 of them. There are countless books, websites, documentaries, and films about this place and as we aren’t going to pretend any sort of expertise, I suggest you find one of those if you want history. We did a little homework and hired a guide for our day at Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Banteay Kdei but mostly, we just basked in the glory of these structures, awed by the work that went into creating them.

Just after sunrise at Angkor Wat

We spent our time in Siem Reap with the two lovely South African women with whom we explored Battambang. Having two other people to share costs with was tremendously helpful to our bottom line but more importantly, we had a ton of fun together.

Ta Prohm, the “Tomb Raider” temple
Angkor Wat: Jen & Jen on the left, Marbree & Philippa on the right

Because these temples are truly incredible and because we aren’t Khmer history buffs, we’re letting the photos run this post. More words next time!

Preah Khan
Fun at Preah Khan
Preah Khan was our first temple on day 2 so energy was high which means lots of photos.


More fun at Preah Khan
The faces of Bayon provide ample photo opportunities.









Like this one:

beyon-Mface         beyon-Jface

While Ta Som gave us this:

Ta-Som-feet         Ta-Som-feet-2

Ta Som has some great doorways.
Yup, also Ta Som.










Tired of Ta Som doorways?
Ok, East Mebon has good doorways, too




East Mebon
Place your bets: did Jen actually hop on this elephant’s back at Bakong?
Angkor Thom: possibly Baphuon but could be Preah Palilay










Angkor Wat in the early morning – worth waking up before dawn for nearly deserted wandering.
Phnom Bakheng, known for great sunsets in dry season.
Not all of Ta Prohm is covered in tree roots.










Ta Prohm
Angkor Wat apsaras: the darker areas have been colored and smoothed by countless human hands
Carvings like these at Bayon are mindblowing – so much detail and each panel tells at least one story.
Pre Rup at the end of a long day.
There was once gold plating in all of these holes.
The holes once fastened gold plating to these stone walls.

In addition to the temples of Angkor Wat, we took a $30 tuk-tuk ride (roundtrip, bargained down from $35) to Beng Melea. The trees have truly taken over here and it’s the one temple where you can really crawl around and explore. If you arrive without a guide, one of the guards will show you around, taking you off the beaten path and sharing as much knowledge as his English allows. A tip is far more affordable than the cost of a guide and a visit is well worth the $5 entry fee plus the 75+ minute tuk-tuk ride each way.

Beng Melea, not part of the Angkor Wat complex but well worth a visit.
Rule 5 was made to be broken.

Beng-Melea-fun      Beng-Melea-tree

Vines at Beng Mealea beg to be swung on, hung from, and otherwise enjoyed.


Acrobatics at Beng Mealea.



Posing on a pile of stones can be fun!
What was Rule 5 again?
All smiles at the end of our temple time in Siem Reap

4 thoughts on “Angkor Wat: a Photo Essay of Making Temples Fun

  • June 28, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Looks awesome! Great pix!

    • June 28, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Thanks, Scott! It truly is an amazing place!

  • June 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    As awesome as advertised!

    • June 30, 2014 at 3:44 am

      Thanks, Megan!

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