Banteay Chhmar West Wall

Banteay Chhmar: The Khmer Empire’s Second City

Built by Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century, Banteay Chhmar was likely far more than just another temple. Scholars now believe, in fact, that it functioned as the Khmer Empire’s ‘second city’ after Angkor. Even in its ruined state, visitors to the temple today can see the clear resemblance between Banteay Chhmar and the

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Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea: The Most Mysterious Khmer Ruin

Beng Mealea, as we call it today, remains shrouded in mystery. Despite its large size, it’s not mentioned in any of the Khmer Empire’s inscriptions. Therefore, we don’t know when it was built, or by whom. The temple has been left unrestored, with parts of it having merged with the jungle. All of these enigmatic

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Prasat Thom Koh Ker

Koh Ker: The Unsolved Puzzles of the Pyramid

In the year 928, King Jayavarman IV decided to move the capital of the Khmer Empire from Angkor to Koh Ker, around 60 kilometers away. To this day, scholars have no idea why. Furthermore, this former capital is also home to one of the region’s most unusual structures. The seven-tiered pyramid of Prasat Thom hardly

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Preah Vihear

Visiting Preah Vihear: Cambodia’s Temple in The Sky

Amongst the Khmer Empire’s hundreds of temples, no more than a handful were ever built on mountaintops. Of these, Preah Vihear is the largest. Its layout is also unusual, making it one of the most unique temples in the region. But the temple wasn’t even accessible to visitors until 1998. And even within the past

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Preah Khan of Kampong Svay

Preah Khan of Kampong Svay: Cambodia’s Largest Temple

Despite being the only car on the road, we were moving at a snail’s pace. The large potholes were more like craters. Not too long ago, though, no roads to Preah Khan of Kampong Svay existed at all. With the temple, by far the Khmer Empire’s largest, just becoming accessible to tourists fairly recently, word

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Phnom Santuk

Climbing the Colorful, Quirky Mountain of Phnom Santuk

Near the city of Kampong Thom, almost exactly in Cambodia’s center, stands one of the country’s most sacred mountains. Phnom Santuk, as it’s known, has long been a pilgrimage spot for locals, but remains well off the radar for most foreign visitors. The mountain, though, has something to offer both nature lovers as well as

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Sambor Prei Kuk northern group

Visiting the Pre-Angkorian Ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk

When visiting the very oldest temples of Angkor, it’s clear that their art and architecture were already very refined. Obviously, the civilization didn’t just spring up out of nowhere. But who was there before? While the exact details are murky, it’s generally believed that two Cambodian kingdoms preceded the birth of Angkor in the 9th

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Baksei Chamkrong

5 of Angkor’s Most Unique Structures

In total, the Angkor Archaeological Park is home to hundreds of monuments. And most temples, even some of the more extravagant ones, can be neatly categorized into distinct architectural styles. There are several unique temples, however, that break the mold. And, while just about every stone structure left by the ancient Khmer was a temple

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Bayon Angkor Thom

A Day in Angkor Thom: Cycling Through the Heart of the Khmer Empire

Though the Khmer Empire lasted for several hundred years, we only have one single firsthand account from a foreign visitor. When the Chinese diplomat Zhou Daguan visited in the year 1296, Angkor Thom was still a thriving, vibrant and wealthy capital. And today, visitors can easily retrace Daguan’s steps, seeing everything from the monumental temples

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Ta Prohm Triad

The Mysteries of Jayavarman VII’s Triad Temples

The late 12th century Angkor temples of Ta Prohm, Preah Khan and Banteay Kdei make up what are known as Jayavarman VII’s ‘triad temples.’ Each temple, in fact, represents a member of the monarch’s favored Buddhist trinity, an ideology he worked hard to promote after centuries of Hindu dominance. Today, these temples have largely been

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Decoding the Symbolism of Angkor

Everywhere you look, the Angkor temples are teeming with symbolism. Thanks to the master artists who constructed and carved the temples, the vivid imagery is bound to captivate even those with little knowledge of its deeper meanings. Familiarizing yourself with the deities, mythological beings and basic concepts of Angkorian religion, however, can make exploring the

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Angkor Wat Reflection

Tracing the Architectural Evolution of Angkor: Part Two

In Part One, we covered the evolution of Angkorian architecture from the 9th century Roluos temples up to the refined gem of Banteay Srei. Here, we’ll cover the remainder of Khmer architectural styles, which includes masterpieces like Angkor Wat and the Bayon style temples of Jayavarman VII. If you’re looking for info on a particular

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East Mebon Angkor

Tracing the Architectural Evolution of Angkor: Part One

Few places on earth captivate the imagination quite like Angkor. As stunning as the Angkor temples are today, you can’t help but picture what things must’ve looked like 1000 years ago as you make your way through the jungle ruins. But eventually, after seeing temple after temple, with little context or background info, it can

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