According to world traveler, Andrew Urbaniak of Massachusetts, Ancient Cambodia is a hidden gem in Southeast Asia.
Siem Reap is one of the most popular destinations in Cambodia, and for a good reason. The city lies on the historic grounds of the Khmer Empire, which thrived from the ninth to the 15th centuries. World traveler, Andrew Urbaniak of Massachusetts, believes the ancient ruins provide a glimpse into the past while bringing tourists to enjoy the current, surrounding cities.
The Angkor Archaeological Park is home to breathtaking ruins, including the Angkor Wat Temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Andrew Urbaniak of Massachusetts explains that it is the largest religious monument in the world, spanning almost one square mile on its own. King Suryavarman II created the building to be a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The monument was converted to a Buddhist temple in the 14th or 15th century and remains a popular destination for Theravada Buddhists today.
Prepare to explore the 150 square mile complex for up to five hours by bringing snacks and comfortable walking shoes. The park also has ruins from beautiful sandstone temples, canals, and reservoirs all built by the Khmers. Andrew Urbaniak of Massachusetts recommends visiting Angkor Thom afterward, as it is located not too far from the Angkor Archaeological Park. There you will find the last capital of the Khmer Empire, which hosts the Buddhist Bayon Temple. People love to look in awe at the gigantic towers carved with 216 smiling faces.
Next, journey to East Cambodia and visit the Little Circuit, comprised of lovely monastic complexes and smaller temples. Andrew Urbaniak notes that Ta Prohm is a popular tourist spot because it was featured in the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. As if the ancient architecture isn’t enough, large banyan tree roots hug the ruins and add to the feeling of nostalgia in this area.
If you still have time in your day, Andrew Urbaniak of Massachusetts recommends traveling to the Big Circuit next. It consists of a handful of temples that lie northeast of Angkor Thom. Visitors especially love the Preah Khan and Pre Rup temples in the Big Circuit for their unique charm.
Finish your day by relaxing back in the city of Siem Reap. You will find many dining options, including French and American foods. For more information about the vast history of Cambodia, Andrew Urbaniak of Massachusetts recommends visiting the New Leaf Book Café. It is a non-profit bookstore with a plethora of enriching reads in many languages.
Although the ancient ruins are a significant tourist attraction, don’t forget to research Cambodia’s best museums and spend time in the smaller villages. Andrew Urbaniak of Massachusetts loves spending time with locals to gain more insight into the culture of other countries.
About Andrew Urbaniak
As a world traveler, Andrew Urbaniak of Massachusetts has explored countries in Africa, Europe, North America, and Asia. He is passionate about history and enjoys studying World War II and eastern politics. As a hobby, Andrew Urbaniak of Massachusetts collects movies, documentaries, and popular film series from 1980-2000.