see + do
Angkor see + do
Situated three miles south of Angkor Archeological Park, Siem Reap is a convenient, full-service base for exploring one of the world's most astounding temple complexes. The sandstone-and-laterite ruins of the Angkor Empire, which flourished here from the 9th through the 15th centuries, spread across the 150-square-mile UNESCO World Heritage Site, and beyond. The goosebump-inducing highlights include Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Bayon, Phnom Bakheng, Srah Srang, and Preah Rup. It's also worth the effort to visit some of the more remote temples, such as Beng Melea and Preah Vihear. There are many, many more, but by all means do not leave the area without also seeing: the first Angkor capital at Roluos, 10 miles east of Siem Reap; the elaborately carved pink-sandstone temple of Banteay Srei, 12 miles northeast of Ta Prohm; and Preah Khan, an enormous, evocative ruin half-buried in the forest just north of Angkor Thom.
It's a good idea to hire a guide (your hotel will have a recommendation) to help you navigate. The passes to get into the temple complex are available for one day ($20), three days ($40), or a week ($60). Although the park opens at 5:30 a.m., you will not be able to see the entire site in a day, no matter how fast you are, so a multiday pass is your best bet. Anyone with a keen interest in history should either hire an official guide (from $20 per day) or find one of the many bubbly amateurs for a lot less. If you're looking for a pro, Tuon Sopheaktra studied in the United Kingdom at the Royal University of Fine Arts. He's available through Hanuman Tourism Voyages (855-23-218-356; www.hanumantourism.com). For the best aerial views and photos, try Angkor Wat's tethered hot-air balloon ($10) or a helicopter ride over the temples (from $60 per person; Helicopters Cambodia Ltd.; 855-12-814-500; email@example.com).