Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia has alway been a phenomenal attraction. Although about 2 million tourists come here every year, there is still that feeling of awe that you are discovering a different world on your own. Here are some secrets revealed about the Angkor Wat:
Though Angkor Wat is a destination in and of itself, it is actually part of a much bigger complex of temples, canals and reservoirs. The Angkor Archeological Park is spread across nearly 100,000 acres, according to Travel + Leisure.
Angkor Wat is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is considered to be one of the most important archeological sites in Southeast Asia. There is a good historical reason for this: Aside from its splendor, the Khmer Empire was a huge part of the political and cultural landscape of Southeast Asia between the 9th and 14th centuries, was centered around then capital Angkor.
Aside from the main Angkor Wat temple, there is the Ta Prohm, Preah Kahn, and Ta Som temples, with their intricately carved stone and brick structures under the vines and roots of and Tetrameles and Ficus trees. A few years ago, a researcher noticed black and red markings on the wall of the temple. He took a few photos, and later on, he realized they were much more detailed than he had first noticed. When researchers went back to look for more, they found more than 200 paintings.
Angkor Wat is recognized as the largest religious structure in the world. It was built in the 12th century and dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu by the Khmer King Suryavarman II. Angkor Wat faces west instead of the usual east, leading some scholars and archeologists to believe it was for funeral use. The temple is still in use today, though not by people practicing Hinduism, but by Buddhists. Within a few centuries of its construction, the Angkor population converted to Buddhism.
Nearby Siem Reap has a strong tourist industry built around the temples, and it isn't hard to find a driver to take you to the site. Let him or her know what you're looking for: whether you want to be there early in the morning to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat, or you would prefer to skip the main temple and head for some of the lesser visited sites, your driver will be able to suggest an itinerary for you. Here are more tips to help you in preparing and planning for your visit to this magnificent temple.