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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; helicopters.cams@online.com.kh).

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Tonle Sap

Just south of Siem Reap lies the Tonle Sap ("Great Lake" in Khmer), the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. One of the hydrological wonders of the world,...more

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Ta Prohm

With its stonework strangled by vaulting silk-cotton trees, jungle-choked Ta Prohm will make any visitor feel like Indiana Jones. Even though it has been looted...more

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Phnom Bakheng, Srah Srang, and Preah Rup

Hilltop Phnom Bakheng lures thousands for sunset but is much more pleasant for sunrise. Experienced hikers can make a frontal assault on the incline in less...more

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Day Spas in Siem Reap

Nearly every top-tier Siem Reap hotel has its own spa, but even budget travelers can indulge in the pampering Siem Reap offers. Reputable massage and...more

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Beng Melea

As Cambodia's infrastructure slowly improves, formerly off-limits sites such as Beng Melea, a one-square-kilometer temple 40 miles northeast of Siem Reap, have...more

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Bayon

The most exquisite carvings cover the Bayon. Like Angkor Wat, this masterpiece was constructed in the 12th century; it's topped by 54 stone towers, each bearing...more

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Anlong Veng and Preah Vihear

Four hours' drive north of Siem Reap, Pol Pot's final bastion of Anlong Veng commands a dramatic escarpment along the Thai border. Adventure outfitter Terre...more

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Angkor Wat

The apotheosis of Khmer civilization, 12th-century Angkor Wat remains the national symbol of Cambodia. It's well worth spending at least half a day here. Make...more

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Angkor National Museum, Siem Reap

The Angkor National Museum, which opened in 2008, provides a fine primer on the Angkor archaeological park, especially if you're touring the ruins without a...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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