Siem Reap Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Siem Reap

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    Beng Mealea (2)

    by rosequartzlover1 Written Mar 19, 2014

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    Beng Mealea was built in Angkor Wat style around middle of 12th century with some later additions in the reign of Suryavarman ll .The one who built this place still remain unknown.Beng mealea was built by blue sand stone from local quarries.There's no narrative bas -relief panels as at Angkor Wat but there's still some carving on walls,pilasters and few pediments.The carving showing legends of Vishnu,Shiva and Lord Buddha.The temple marked the center of a town,surrounded by a moat 1,025m by 875m and 45m wide.Four paved avenues lead via cruciform terraces to the entrances at the cardinal point and oriented to the east.East of complex is large baray,with a small island containing a shrine in its center.The plan is similar to Angkor wat but the difference is ..all was built at ground level with no temple mountain.There are 3 concentric enclosures,each one set back slightly to the west with the central shrine at the intersection of the axes.These enclosures are tied together with cruciform cloister just as at Angkor Wat,and in the north-east and south-east corners of the enclosures are small shrines of the kind known wrongly as "libraries"

    South gate ,outer enclosure. Can see some part of inner shrine. Collapsed outer enclosure wall,south side. Beng Mealea plan. South wall that still can see some frame.

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    Exploring The Bayon Temple inside and out

    by PandawitchElphie Written Mar 18, 2014

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    Personally, there are two temples that I'd say are my favorites. Ta Prohm and Bayon.
    Yes, ofcourse, Angkor Wat and Banteay Srei are icons but... it's Ta Prohm and Bayon, for me, that have the most personality and character.

    By now, you'd have heard of the Bayon faces. Youd've seen many pictures from others who have reviewed the place. Trust me when I say it's different when you see it in real life.

    Those faces are HUGE! And somehow--- their smiling faces makes you want to keep staring and looking. They give off a sense of peace, no matter how imposing their size is. We didn't take a tourguide here, which, on hindsight, was a wrong decision. It would've been nice to know more details. Oh well, when I go back. (and yes, I'm claiming that. I WILL go back to Siem Reap)(soon).

    We clambered in and out of chambers, halls, up and down the steep stairs... it's really a place to either take pictures or explore.

    We even found a green door!!! (Or at least I call it a door). Bet most of you haven't found this.
    And if ever you do... look up... you'll see carvings at the top which are almost gone from everywhere else in the temple. It was a find for us.

    This was my Panda's favorite temple. Somehow, I'm not surprised. It really gives off a masculine vibe.

    Don't just stay up top with the faces... meander around the area... appreciate the fallen rocks. There are nice bas reliefs of Apsara dancing on the pillars around the temple.

    Come here expecting to just take lots of pictures.
    Be prepared with lots of water.
    The stairs are narrow and steep-- so be warned and prepared. But don't be discouraged. DO climb. I know the not-so-young would balk at the steps but... I swear, go for it. Ask for assistance to climb up (bring a tourguide). The view near the faces is something you can't miss.

    **ladies... try not to wear shorts that are above 2 inches higher than your knee. Or heaven forbid, skirts. Unless your purpose is to give everyone a nice show from down below.
    **in fact, don't go to any of the temples in shorts/short skirts/or sleeveless...there are some temple where they won't let you climb up. Regardless of sarongs you can wrap around. Some stairs are so steep, a gust of wind can blow your sarong and in your hurry to keep it on-- you might slip from the very narrow stairs. My feet are size 6US and I find them narrow. What more normal-size feet?

    Bayon Temple VT at Bayon The hidden green door Pandas at Bayon Tradition: Kissing shot at Bayon.
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    Learning at the National Museum

    by PandawitchElphie Written Mar 18, 2014

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    We hit the National Museum on our second day (giving us a rest after the hike to Kbal Spean) and my boyfriend and I agreed that this should be the first stop for anyone entering Siem Reap. At least, for those who really want to learn about the history and the temples. You get to walk in relative comfort from gallery to gallery and learn about this or that carving, statue, the why's and who's (I'm not really into when's.... dates just sail past my head somehow).

    We figure, once you get acquainted with the statues and carvings... you'll get to appreciate the temples more. This is especially good for those who don't want a tour guide around. But if you're like us, we went to this AND took a tour guide to some of the temples. Which, I have to say, gave us a better appreciation of everything (instead of just taking selfies here and there).

    Entrance fee here is: $12. And if you were me, I'd swallow your budget and get the audioguide for an additional fee (I don't remember if it was $3 of $4). On hindsight-- I don't recall a rule saying you can't share. We got individual audioguides but I guess, you can take turns if you want-- there are only a few spots in each gallery where the audioguide is needed/can be used). You can actually just READ what is on the audioguide...it's on the displays but it adds to the fun. (too much data makes my eyes cross-eyed).

    You're not allowed to carry big bags into the museum. You have to check your bags at the reception and they'll give you a pouch where you can store your wallet/passports and other SMALL valuables. You're only allowed to take pictures outside the galleries which houses your collections. (makes sense, else no one would want to pay for things they can already see and learn about online).

    You start off with a short video presentation then meander your way from gallery to gallery.

    I enjoyed this stop-- for one thing, as I said earlier, it gives you more appreciation of the temples (some folks just go to the temples, take pictures and leave-- we liked learning stuff). Names of the Gods (which you'll recognize in the temples, their wives, nagas, and lingas).

    I'd say this is a good activity after breakfast and before lunch.... then after lunch, go hit one or two temples.

    From pubstreet (breakfast) it only cost us $2 to get here.

    The National Museum Self-guided tours Audioguides
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    Hiking to Kbal Spean and the 1000 Lingas

    by PandawitchElphie Written Mar 18, 2014

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    First of all...there aren't 1000 lingas. They say 1000... but it's actually "uncountable". At least that's what our guide has told us.

    If you don't like hikes, or clambering over boulders and rocks... this is NOT the place for you to go to. I have to admit, my boyfriend and I kept on stopping every 5 minutes to pant, rest, pant some more, drink water and look hopelessly at the path ahead. I have to admit, I ended up laughing and giggling my way up. My poor lovey... suffering just for me. We are definitely not physically fit enough for this hike....but we survived!

    ** Bring water. Don't mind the weight...trust me, you'll NEED the water.

    But of course, we doggedly continued on until we finally reached our destination. The carvings on the riverbed.

    **I honestly recommend you take a guide. For one thing, he can tell you what the lingas are, where the carvings are AND most importantly, help you up over the rocks.

    After you reach the carvings... you'll end up following the water to the waterfalls. Given a choice, I'd love to be able to jump right in. I would've, if kids hadn't beaten me to it. In the end, we settled for getting our feet wet and splashing around. Be careful though, the moss makes everything very slippery.

    **bring a towel/sarong to wipe your feet afterwards.

    On this trip, points of interest would be:
    The carvings.
    A "mushroom" rock. It's a giant boulder being held up by a giant termite mound. They say, if you lay sticks underneath it, it'll give you good luck. We nerdy pandas say... the sticks are there to feed the termites so the mound grows bigger and the rock stays up. LOL!

    Now, to be honest, do I recommend going there just to see the carvings under the water? Not really. They're just little 'dots'. (see pics) I mean, I wouldn't trade my experience because I was with my lovey and we were having fun (though it was physically exhausting and definitely, my lovey was suffering). But will I ever go back to this place? Personally, no.

    So if you only have a couple of days to spend in Siem Reap-- don't waste it here. BUT!!! If you have a week.... then yes, come here. Especially if you like to take pictures, hiking and look forward to the possibility of butterflies at the waterfalls.

    Because yes, there were MANY butterflies flying around as we lingered at the base of the small waterfalls. :) I brought our toy pandas to do our toyphotography and those butterflies were curious indeed!


    You can honestly appreciate this place more from pictures. Or until they find a way to get Elephants to bring you up there. Remember, it's a loooong hike up and a loooong hike down.

    **Last tip: before you go here... email ahead/ask your tourguide/hotel if there's the river water is a high or not. Because if it's too high... you won't even get to see the carvings. So stay away during the rainy months.

    Me and my Panda Our treat at the end up the hike UP. Butterflies at the waterfalls A part of the giant Mushroom rock Jump right in.
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    Ta Prohm explorations

    by PandawitchElphie Updated Mar 18, 2014

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    If you're the type of tourist who is not in a hurry to go from one temple to another, plan to stay here for half a day. After lunch would do. WHen the sun is at its hottest, you're going to love the canopy of the trees. THIS is the shadiest temple to go to. And, if you take your time, you get to see Ta Prohm when it's being bathed by the golden afternoon sun.

    We took the EAST ENTRANCE, and we went reverse of the crowd. Usually, the crowd likes to enter the temples from the front. We, on the other hand took the left side entrance... taking us past areas where we got lucky and there were no tourists (oh yeah-- happy dance!).

    This was MY favorite temple. My reason for going to Siem Reap in the first place. The trees!!! The glorious trees! The giant trees that are trying to take back what man stole from them thousands of years ago.

    (actually, they're parasite trees-- giant vines that grow over and around actual real trees and slowly kill the original tree--leaving giant fragile trees in its place).

    We basically explored the place and took our time because we like to take pictures. No, we're not professional photographers but we still had tons of fun with our tripods. On my next visit here (and yes, there WILL be a next visit), I'm taking a tourguide. Mr. Chet probably. So I can learn about the things we just walked by.

    THAT's the thing-- you can appreciate the beauty of the temples...but it takes a tourguide to actually tell you that that weird sculpture is actually a symbol of 'sex' or that the carving on your left is the image of the world being created.

    There's not a lot of statues or carvings here-- it's a pretty bare temple. The main attraction would be the trees or the fact that it is a temple being surrounded by the jungle.

    Tip:
    Again, take water.
    Enter the temple areas and search for the trees.
    Make sure you have your picture taken with the Tomb Raider tree.

    Exploring the Ruins Tomb Raider tree My narnian shot from Ta Prohm My Panda...a VT by extension Ta Prohm from the west
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    Visit to Angkor Wat

    by PandawitchElphie Written Mar 18, 2014

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    Nobody goes to Siem Reap without going to Angkor Wat.

    Our tuktuk driver picked us up at 430am, brought us to buy our pass and advised us on how to enter the temple. (If I were you, I'd ask to be picked up even earlier-- to get the best seat) (next time I go, I want to be picked up at 330am)

    BRING FLASHLIGHTS! There is NO electricity/lights in Angkor Wat.
    I enjoyed the ghostly walk into the temple grounds, complete darkness except for the occasional bobbing of a fellow flashlight as you and your fellow tourists hurry to get the best spot on the left pond bank, facing the temple.

    Tip: STAY AS LEFT AS YOU CAN, FACING THE TEMPLE.
    This way you can get the best angle of the temple and it's reflection on the pool.
    We didn't stay on the left... we stayed on the right-- so I can tell you, LEFT is the best place.

    Bring a sarong or a very small towel to lay on the ground so you can sit on it AND reserve a little private place around you. The ground has reddish soil-- so if you don't want to have a red butt while you walk around afterwards-- a sarong is good. You can even ask your hotel/hostel to pack you breakfast or bring your own snack so you can munch while you wait. Though there is a small stall inside selling coffee and such (funny to see that actually).

    PRAY FOR CLEAR SKIES. Any cloud, or haze won't let the sun paint the sky with the colors you want.

    Heck, I need to mention the HORDES of tourists. They insist on going to the front of the pond, thereby ruining your shot so... be prepared to erase them using your photo programs. You can't avoid them. They'll be there... they'll be everywhere.

    We made a mistake-- we got up from our spot too early-- (which is probably why I want to go back). So here's a tip: ASK your driver/hotel what time the sun comes up. Be prepared to wait in your spot for a couple of hours. So yes, bring a snack. Oh and....

    Another tip? For night/sunrise shots? Bring a tripod. :)

    After the sunrise, you have a few options... to continue on and tour the temple and the grounds while it's still cool or go and have breakfast. We had breakfast in one of the many restos at the front of Angkor Wat. Then we went to Bayon Temple and stayed there until lunch.
    Late afternoon brought us back to Angkor Wat at around 3pm and we stayed there, happily exploring until sunset.

    If you do go back to Angkor Wat during the day... here's my personal tip.
    When you walk into Angkor wat, over the bridge.... DO NOT ENTER THE MAIN ENtRANCE. Instead, go to the right. Take the next entrance on the right. It'll show you the giant buddha statue that, if you'd seen it before on the internet and wanted to find it, you'd have missed it if you didn't enter there. After this, look and spot the dirt road/path on the right side. Take that and take a leisurely stroll under the canopy of the trees, whilst you grin at the poor tourist baking on the main walkway to the temple. You can always take the center shots of the temples later when the sunset paints the temples a glorious orange. This way, you can save yourself from the relentless sun and you get to spend your energy walking and strolling the temples minus the heatstroke.

    Practical tips:
    **Always bring water-- carry one or two bottles (or more). It's really, REALLY hot. Wear a wide-brim hat. And... go to the bathrooms before you enter any temple... there are no toilets inside temple grounds.

    Proud VT at Angkor Wat Ghostly walk into Angkor Wat Our trademark: Pandas Yes, I was a monk-stalker... I wanted this shot. The other side of Angkor at sunset.
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    Beng Mealea (1)

    by rosequartzlover1 Written Mar 12, 2014

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    Beng mealea mean "lotus pond" The pronunciation sounds similar to my Thai languge that pronounce "beung mala" with similar meaning as well = " flower pond" I chose this place to be the must see if I should be in Siem reap.It used to be something like "off the beaten path" ,that's a reason why I wanted to go and the site looks so charming that I'd like to see in real.Beng Mealea was abandoned for long period ot time, nature took its course and the site has been overrun by the trees. We'll see trees grow out of stone, the vines are wrapped around the temple, and roots stretched through moss- covered stone walls. The temple have collapsed from neglect,never been renovated nor preserved, it made this site are very charming rustic ruins.After visitting the place ,many people love this place even said to be the most fantastic place of all the temple in Siem reap.
    To get there we have to pay 5 $ for the entrance.You can not use the Angor pass for this place , even you carry the multi -day Angor pass or not ,you have to buy ticket at the ticket booth before arriving the site anyway.Here's the pic of the ticket booth(second pic) it's about 1 km before arriving the site.Firts pic is 7 head nagas at the entrance.
    Third pic is a long path from entrance to the main site.Forth pic is the moat that surround the site 1025 m by 875 m large and 45 m wide.We don't see any beautiful lotus anymore in the pond ,actually it's very easy to reintroduce them back into to the pond to make more atmosphere.Sadly ,no one want to renovate anything.Last pic ,some thing to sell along the path.
    Because there are many thing to share so I'll write more review about this place ...to be continue...

    The entrance. Ticket booth.

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    Marom Hem - Fantastic tuk tuk driver

    by Cathy&Gary Updated Mar 8, 2014

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    Many months before our first trip to Siem Reap I had been reading about Marom Hem on the Tales of Asia site. All the comments on him were excellent so I sent him an email. We corresponded for a few months before our trip and booked Marom for all our tours in Siem Reap, including picking us up from the airport.

    That was back in 2006, we have been back many times since and we always use Marom for our visits to Siem Reap, I would not think of booking anyone else! Every place you can see on my website that we have been to in Siem Reap over the last 8 years has been with Marom.

    I don’t know if any of you know how the numbers on the back of the tuk tuk drivers work but Marom's number is 61. Back in the early 1990’s when all drivers had to be registered in Siem Reap the numbers for some strange reason started from 45 instead of 1.

    So Marom was in the first 20 registered tuk tuk drivers in Seam Reap. He knows all the good out of the way places without tourists, we just love him and he is a good friend. His rates are standard, he never expects more, he is a very safe driver, extremely knowledgeable, well spoken and trustworthy.

    We highly recommend contacting Marom if you are looking for a tuk tuk driver in Siem Reap.
    Another reason we liked being with Marom is not once did he try to pressure us to go to various shops etc so he could get petrol vouchers, commissions etc. He was there for us and that was it. He does not rush you and we feel extremely comfortable with him at all times.

    So if you are looking for one of the nicest, safest, friendliest tuk-tuk drivers in Siem Reap who has been around for a long time and knows all the good places to see, then contact Marom at:
    maromtuktuk1@gmail.com or emailmarom@yahoo.com
    You can also call him on:
    (855)12994285

    He checks his emails quite regularly so it should not be long before you hear back from him!

    Contact Marom for his current rates as I am not sure if the ones below have changed.
    Day Rates for Marom's tuk-tuk which seats 2 comfortably are:
    Angkor Archaeological Park $15
    Banteay Srey $22
    Kbal Spean $30
    Beng Mealea $40
    ($45 To Bantey Srey and Beng Mealea)
    Lake Trips
    Kompong Phluk (wet season only)
    1 - 3 people $70
    4 - 6 people $90
    Kompong Khleang
    1 - 3 people $80
    4 - 6 people $100

    Countryside tours are $25 - $35 depending on the distance traveled.
    Phnom Kulen cannot be accessed by tuk-tuk but Marom can take you there on his moto or organize a car etc.

    Marom Hem - Fantastic tuk tuk driver Marom Hem - Fantastic tuk tuk driver Marom Hem - Fantastic tuk tuk driver Marom Hem with his parents and brother in law Marom Hem - Fantastic tuk tuk driver
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    Wat Preah Prom Rath

    by Cathy&Gary Written Mar 7, 2014

    Wat Preah Prom Rath is located on the river side close to the Old Markets. There are beautiful colorful buildings, gardens and modern style statues. You can see a lot of money has been spent in here.

    It is a very pretty and peaceful place with bench seats around the grounds to sit and admire the gardens and statues.

    So that was our last morning spent with Marom, he took us to places we would never have know about if we were not with him.

    Wat Preah Prom Rath Wat Preah Prom Rath Wat Preah Prom Rath Wat Preah Prom Rath Wat Preah Prom Rath
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    Wat Preah Inkosei

    by Cathy&Gary Written Mar 7, 2014

    Wat Preah Inkosei was built on the site of an early Angkorian Hindu Temple and there are still 2 temple ruins in good condition dating from around 1000AD at the back of the main complex behind the Buddhist Pagoda.

    One of the temple ruins has an excellent lintel over the doorway showing the Churning of the Ocean of Milk. There is also a small shadow puppetry workshop here and if you see any Monks, say hello as they like to practice their English.

    Wat Preah Inkosei Wat Preah Inkosei Wat Preah Inkosei Wat Preah Inkosei Wat Preah Inkosei
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    Wat Bo

    by Cathy&Gary Written Mar 7, 2014

    Wat Bo which was built 425 years ago and is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Siem Reap; there is also a new Temple in there near the end of completion.

    This was a very special visit for us. There is an area where antiques and art objects made from bronze, bone, silver etc are kept, including bones and skeletons thought to be over 1000 years old so Marom asked could we go in and look around, which we did.

    Then an old man came over to us, he could not speak a word of English and he went over to the very old Pagoda and opened it up for us, including some windows so we would not be so hot.
    We sat inside this amazing 425 year old Pagoda with him for about an hour asking him questions through Marom. I told him he had a beautiful smile; his reply was he had just got new teeth.

    This man was a monk for a long time, and then he left, married, had 9 children and has gone back to Wat Bo where he has been living for the last 20 years.

    He is called a Master as he organizes everything that happens at Wat Bo. He invited Angie and I back for a special meditation event that afternoon in the Pagoda that only happens certain times of the year. Sadly it was our last day and we did not have time, but we will definitely go back next year. 151 monks live at Wat Bo and we watched the cooking process for lunch, very hard hot work on little wood ovens.

    Wat Bo still also retains the traditions of a Buddhist Monastery by letting young and poor people come to take refuge, receive an education in traditional skills such as wood carving, hide carving, music and dance and be provided with food and a room in the dormitory.

    Wat Bo Wat Bo Wat Bo Wat Bo Wat Bo
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    Phnom Kulen

    by Cathy&Gary Written Mar 7, 2014

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    Phnom Kulen is where the 500 year long Age of Angkor began; it is the mountain on which Jayavarman II initiated the royal God of the King linga cult in 802AD. This declared a unified and independent Khmer Empire under a single ruler and began what would become the Age of Angkor.

    There are several minor ruins, waterfalls and hundreds of linga stands in the Siem Reap River. There is also an active Pagoda, with lots of stairs but well worth the climb to the top to see the huge reclining stone Buddha. This area is extremely popular with the Khmers for picnics etc as there are beautiful waterfalls and swimming areas.

    It is a little bit of a trek to get down to the main waterfall and once again there are more slippery, rickety and difficult stairs, but it is very beautiful once you are there. We went to Phnom Kulen with Marom, his sister and her 2 children as they had never been before (Marom has many times) so it was very exciting for them as well. Marom also bought along an esky full of beer, he knows how to look after us.

    Phnom Kulen is only just over 50 kilometers from Siem Reap but it takes about 90 minutes to drive there and nearly one hour of that is spent on a terrible pot holed dirt road that climbs up the mountain.

    We had a fantastic day here, got caught in a couple of tropical rainstorms, went swimming, had Cambodian racing chickens for lunch, so called due to the small amount of meat on them. It was a 7.5 hour day and we all came back wet, tired and happy. There is also a $20 entry fee to Phnom Kulen.

    Phnom Kulen Phnom Kulen Phnom Kulen Phnom Kulen Phnom Kulen
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    Roluos Group of Temples - Preah Ko

    by Cathy&Gary Written Mar 6, 2014

    The Roluos Group are 3 monuments that represent the first major capital of theAngkorian/Khmer Empire. This group of Temples are about 13 kilometers outside of Siem Reap and entry is included in the regular Angkor Circuit pass.

    Our last stop was Preah Ko which is six towers standing on a platform with beautiful preserved carvings. Preah Ko means Sacred Bull and you will see statues of the bulls at the front of the Temple.

    Roluos Group of Temples - Preah Ko Roluos Group of Temples - Preah Ko Roluos Group of Temples - Preah Ko Roluos Group of Temples - Preah Ko Roluos Group of Temples - Preah Ko
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    Roluos Group of Temples - Lolei

    by Cathy&Gary Written Mar 6, 2014

    The Roluos Group are 3 monuments that represent the first major capital of theAngkorian/Khmer Empire. This group of Temples are about 13 kilometers outside of Siem Reap and entry is included in the regular Angkor Circuit pass.

    Next stop was Lolei which are the ruins of an island Temple. Lolei was the last major Temple to be built at Roluos before the capital was moved to the Angkor area. There is also an active Pagoda built among the ruins.

    Roluos Group of Temples - Lolei Roluos Group of Temples - Lolei Roluos Group of Temples - Lolei Roluos Group of Temples - Lolei Roluos Group of Temples - Lolei
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    Roluos Group of Temples - Bakong

    by Cathy&Gary Written Mar 6, 2014

    The Roluos Group are 3 monuments that represent the first major capital of theAngkorian/Khmer Empire. This group of Temples are about 13 kilometers outside of Siem Reap and entry is included in the regular Angkor Circuit pass.

    Bakong is the most beautiful of the group and the biggest standing 15 meters high and surrounded by a beautiful moat. It was constructed by the third Angkorian King as his state temple and then future Kings added more buildings.

    Roluos Group of Temples - Bakong Roluos Group of Temples - Bakong Roluos Group of Temples - Bakong Roluos Group of Temples - Bakong Roluos Group of Temples - Bakong
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