A visit to the temples of Angkor is a profound experience, as few sights on earth can match the immense majesty of Angkor Wat, the overgrowth of nature run amok at Ta Prohm, or the mysterious faces of the Bayon. The temples of the Angkor complex are situated in the northwest province of Siem Reap, close to the town of the same name. There are more than 1000 temples, built between the 9th and 13th centuries and the remaining structures are the sacred skeleton of what was once the social, religious and administrative centre of the Hindu Khmer Empire. Almost a thousand years ago, this was the largest city in the world, and truly is one of our planet's most special places. Make sure you see it in your lifetime! This tour brings us to the biggest lost temple of the complex, whose ruins are being slowly swallowed by the surrounding lush nature.
• The lost temples of the unparalleled, magnificent Angkor complex
• A full day exploring the ruins of temples swallowed by the forest
Option 1: Adventures Around Koh Ker and Beng MealeaMeals: N/A | Accommodation: N/A
We travel to the lost temple of Beng Mealea, the titanic of temples, a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the Cambodian forests. It is the most accessible of Angkor's lost temples, a mirror image of Angkor Wat, but utterly consumed by the voracious appetite of nature. Constructed by Suryavarman II (1113-1150), the genius builder of Angkor Wat, the forest has run riot here and it is hard to get a sense of the monument's shape amid the daunting ruins.
It is possible to enjoy an Indiana Jones experience clambering about the vast ruin, but please be gentle in this sacred place for the sake of future generations. For those who prefer a more gentle adventure, there is also a sturdy wooden walkway running right into the heart of the temple. It is also possible to visit a nearby Angkor-era quarry from which stone was cut to build these massive monuments. We then head into the bush to the remote Angkor city of Koh Ker. The history of Cambodia is riven with dynastic spats and political intrigue and one of the most memorable came in the 10th century when Jayavarman IV (928-942) fell out with his family, stormed off to the northwest and established the rival capital of Koh Ker. Although the capital for just 15 years, Jayavarman IV was determined to legitimise his rule through a prolific building programme that left a legacy of 30 major temples and gargantuan sculptures that are on display in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. We climb to the summit of Prasat Thom, a seven level step pyramid, more Mayan looking than Khmer, with its commanding views over the surrounding forest. Nearby is Prasat Krahom or the Red Temple, named after the pinkish Banteay Srei-style stone from which it is built. There are many more temples in the area, including the five towers of Prasat Ling, each enclosing a giant linga (fertility symbol), the biggest and best found in situ anywhere in Cambodia.
Note: Pick up at 7.30 am
Option 2: Adventure day to the sacred mount of Preah VihearMeals: N/A | Accommodation: N/A
Preah Vihear Temple is a Hindu temple built during the six-centuries-long Khmer Empire. It is situated on the top of a cliff in the Dangrek Mountains. Unlike most Khmer temples, the temple is constructed on a long north-south axis, instead of the usual rectangular plan facing east. The history of the Temple is not clear but it is known to be dedicated to the god Shiva. Nowaday, the serviving part of the complex is about 800m long. The Temple admind vistors by its sculpture, conflict structure and the view from it.
PRICE PER PERSON
Price in 2013
• Drinking water during sightseeing• Travel in an appropriate air-conditioned 4WD with an experienced driver• Public liability insurance• The services of an experienced English-speaking guide• All entrance fees
• International flight tickets and airport tax, currently $25 per person• Visas, currently $20 per person• Accommodation with breakfast• Meals• Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.• Camera fees (if any)• Surcharge in peak season (Christmas & New Year)• Insurance
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