Fast becoming one of the most popular of Angkor temples, Ta Phrom is a photographer’s paradise. Unlike many of Angkor’s ruins, Ta Phrom has been left mostly to nature’s whims and nowhere is this power more evident than in the massive trees’ stranglehold on many of the temple’s walls. It is typical to get there around midday due primarily to its location on the circuit as well as its dense jungle setting. It is easier to get photos at that time of day and the place is accordingly packed. We did this on our first visit and took lots of photos but decided to come here for sunrise on our last morning. We were very glad we did despite our driver’s insistence it was a waste of time due to the bad light there at that hour. We got there in total darkness and though it was admittedly spooky entering the gloomy ruins entirely on our own, we found a place to sit and immerse ourselves in the uproar of the early morning jungle rumble. A mad chirping of assorted birds fought mightily against an incessant buzz of insects that all but engulfed us. All too soon, the darkness we initially feared came to a fleeting end and the wave of sound subsided to a normal level as we gained use of our other senses and saw the first strains of light glimmer through the dense vegetation. We wandered around the mysterious setting entirely on our own; the solitude was a worthy tradeoff for the lack of photographic light. We managed to capture a few ominous shots just before the first visitors came and unexpectedly found us taking our leave.
Ta Prohm is yet another temple left to the jungle's devastating work. However, it's the most famous and most interesting. Giant trees grow everywhere in and on the temple remains. Even the outer walls are fully overgrown at some places. Ta Prohm is famous, so be prepared for hundreds of tourists strolling around the site. Fortunately, 99% of them will not leave the main axis - so it's a good idea to start by walking around not through the temple. You will have Ta Prohm almost for yourself and can walk back through the masses with a smile on your face. In the last years, these masses have brought problems to Ta Prohm: Many of the walls are about to collapse and stones that bore fine carvings earlier now show only the slightest traces of these. Thus, a lot of construction work is going on in Ta Prohm. The authorities seem to have noticed that leaving a temple to the jungle is a good idea, but only if it is still presentable to the tourists. This also means that several sideways are off limits to tourists. Respect this, as it is really not worth being buried under a pile of massive stones just for "one more photo from over there"!
One more thing for the film freaks on VT: Scenes of "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" were filmed here. Great scenery for a movie like that!
A tree was struck by lightening not more than a year ago, my guide told me, and the tree that was hit fell on part of the outer wall of the city. You can see this toward the left side of the complex as you walk from the front to the back. Be careful as the rubble is very loose. Also, obey the ropes! They are there for a reason! Oh, OK, I didn't either!
You might take a look at Angkor Wat and the Bayon, and think, "What the hell happened to Ta Prohm?" Well, what you are seeing is exactly what the discoverers wanted. They decided to leave Ta Prohm untouched. It is therefore the closest representation of what most of the temples of Angkor looked like when they were found. The jungle that swallowed the rest of the temples continues to do so at Ta Prohm, even today. There are those who want to cut away the vines to help preserve the temple. For me, I would hate to see the temple completely destroyed, but I would hate worse to lose what only Ta Prohm offers, a glimpse into the past.
If you haven't heard of the Lonely Planet travel book series, you're not a real traveler! On the cover of the SE Asia guidebook is a man amongst the vines and roots of a temple in Angkor. The temple is Ta Prohm, and the man is... this guy!!
He hangs around everyday, and takes donations for posing in pictures with you. I decided to take a quick photo from a few feet away. Now, I feel guilty! Someone give him a dollar for me!
If you have seen the Tomb Raider movies or have dreamed of being Indiana Jones for a while, this temple will leave you a "deja-vu" sensation. It is all covered by huge trees whose roots spread from the roofs, falling by the walls as octopussies' tentacles...
This is how most of the temples are supposed to have been all these years since its discovery in the 19th century, as they have been abandoned for centuries and the jungle has been slowly covering them.
From the entrance to the temple there is a long walk. You will find in the way many kids who offer themselves as guides. If you are not in a hurry, this might be a good way to know a little more about the place. It won't be expensive (don't give them more than 1 USD) and they can take you to the better places for astonishing pictures (those huge trees over the buildings and so)...
There are many interesting sights in Ta Phrom, but maybe the most famous place is the central courtyard with those amazing roots falling over the place.
The cover picture of the Lonely Planet Guide was taken here, and you can see the old man of the pic, who is a guardian of the temple.
Ta Prohm is quite different to most of the other temples in Angkor in that elsewhere, all the vegetation and trees have been removed in the immediate vicinity of the temple, where as here it's been left in an overgrown state to some degree.
It's a definite "must see" sight as a result. Wander around, and bring your camera as there are plenty of great shots to be taken - here's one of mine.
By far the coolest place in the whole of Angkor, Ta Phrom is a captivating mixture of temple and jungle. With roots, literally, seemingly growing out the temple stone, you start to wonder if you are on some foreign planet. The green moss covering the temple stone adds to the feeling that, somehow, the temple is alive. It is such a visual marvel, it begs the question of whether or not to restore it like other temples have been. Certainly, I am a proponent of making sure the continually growing roots do not collapse the structure, but removing the jungle, so rooted (sorry) in the lore and stunning visual product would be a travesty.