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10 Must-See Temples in Siem Reap

Siem Reap's Most Popular Temples

Temples in Siem Reap attract millions of visitors each year, especially those set within the expansive Angkor Archaeological Park. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, there are approximately 50 Buddhist and Hindu temples dating back to the 12th century within its grounds. While most of the structures have collapsed and covered in greenery, history buffs will delight in the many well-preserved stone carvings as they provide a glimpse of the once prosperous Khmer empire.

Further away from downtown Siem Reap are equally notable Hindu temples, some of which are older than the iconic Angkor Wat. A full-day excursion is highly recommended to explore these sites, but they’re well worth the extra effort as you’ll get to enjoy breathtaking sights and the tranquil countryside along the way. Prior to visiting Angkor Wat and other renowned sites in Siem Reap, travellers are required to purchase an Angkor Pass, which is priced at US$20 for a one-day pass, US$40 for a three-day pass, and US$60 for a seven-day pass. Read on for our comprehensive list of Siem Reap’s most popular temples.

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    1

    Angkor Wat

    Angkor Archaeological Park
    Angkor Wat

    Angkor Wat, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, is Siem Reap’s most iconic temple site. Located within the expansive Angkor Archaeological Park, it was constructed during the 12th century to worship the Lord Vishnu (a Hindu deity) and, according to scholars, served as a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II. Today, you can still see (and photograph) five lotus-like towers that stand 65 metres tall and 2,000 stone carvings of Apsaras (celestial dancers). Read More...

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    2

    Angkor Thom

    Angkor Archaeological Park
    Angkor Thom

    Angkor Thom or Big Angkor was constructed by King Jayavarman VII (1181-1219) as the last capital city of the Angkorian era. The largest site in the Angkor Archaeological Park, there are five 20-metre tall gates surrounding Angkor Thom, with intricate stone carvings of elephants and the four faces of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara while causeways leading to the gates are flanked with 108 statues of gods and demons. Notable temples found within Angkor Thom include Ba Yon Temple, Terrace of the Elephants, and Ta Phrohm Temple. Read More...

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    3

    Ba Yon Temple

    Central Angkor Thom

    Ba Yon Temple features approximately 50 stone towers with four faces of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara carved on most of them. Set in the middle of Angkor Thom, it was built in the late 12th century to serve as the official state temple of Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. Featuring a serene expression, the stone carvings are easily the most recognisable structures of the ancient Khmer Kingdom, with each of the four faces measuring at four metres in height and oriented toward the four points of the compass. Ba Yon Temple is also flanked by two long walls with intricate bas-relief scenes of battlefields, markets, religious rituals, and cockfighting. Read More...

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    4

    Ta Prohm Temple

    1km east of Angkor Thom

    Ta Prohm Temple gained international recognition after it was featured in both the movie and game Tomb Raider. This tranquil monastery was built during the mid-12th century by King Jayavarman VII in commemoration of his mother. Fitted with 600 rooms, courtyards and galleries, it was believed to have housed a population of over 70,000 people, most of them being high priests, monks, assistants, dancers, and labourers. The ruins of Ta Prohm Temple are now enveloped by huge trees and hanging vines, giving visitors the feeling of discovering a temple lost in the jungle. Read More...

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    5

    Ba Phuon Temple

    Northwest of Ba Yon Temple

    Ba Phuon Temple is a three-tiered temple mountain that was built in honour of the Hindu God Shiva and served as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II during the mid-11th century. Located northwest of Ba Yon Temple, its pyramid-like shape is an architectural representation of the mythical Mount Meru. Despite several restoration attempts, much of Ba Phuon Temple had largely collapsed by the 20th century. Visitors can still find unique animal carvings at the entrance to the central sanctuary. Read More...

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    6

    Preah Khan

    2 kilometres northeast of Angkor Thom

    The Preah Khan (Sacred Sword) temple complex is surrounded by a towering moat with its walls decorated with carvings of garudas, a bird-like mythical being in Hindu mythology. Dedicated by the King Jayavarman VII to his father in 1191, it houses maze-like entryways, towers, ceremonial spaces, courtyards, and shrines. Its standout features are the two-storey pavilion and Hall of Dancers, where you can see images of Apsara dancers on its pillars. Located two kilometres northeast of Angkor Thom, Preah Khan has been left in a largely unreconstructed state, allowing for numerous trees, vines, and various vegetation growing among the ruins. Read More...

    The Terrace of the Elephants in the centre of Angkor Thom features beautiful bas-relief scenes of elephants and garudas, making it one of the most photographed sites in Angkor Archaeological Park. Utilised by King Jayavarman VII as viewing platform for public ceremonies during the late 12th century, the striking terrace measures at 300 metres in length and two and a half-metres in height. The northern part of the Terrace of the Elephants is fitted with sculptures of a five headed horse, Apsara dancers and Khmer warriors. Read More...

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    8

    Phnom Bakheng (Bakheng Hill)

    32km northeast of Siem Reap
    Phnom Bakheng (Bakheng Hill)

    major temple to be built after the capital was moved from Roluos during the 9th century. Constructed over two centuries before the iconic Angkor Wat, this temple mountain represents Mount Meru, home of the Hindu gods and also served as the state temple of King Yasovarman I. Despite its imposing height and narrow stairway, Phnom Bakheng is very popular for sunrise and sunset viewing amongst tourists as its hilltop location offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily 05:00 – 17:00
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    9

    Prasat Bantaey Srei

    32km northeast of Siem Reap
    Prasat Bantaey Srei

    Prasat Banteay Srei is a 10th century Hindu temple that boasts some of the most well-preserved relics in Siem Reap. Unlike the temples in Angkor Archaeological Park, it was built by a Brahmin counsellor to King Rajendravarman. Locally known as the ‘citadel of the women,’ Prasat Banteay Srei is fitted with pink sandstones and three-dimensional carvings of scenes from the Ramayana epic, as well as female deities (devatas) in traditional attire carrying lotus flowers on each hand. It takes about an hour to get to there by taxi, but it’s a must-visit for those looking to explore more temples beyond downtown Siem Reap. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily 05:00 – 17:00
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    10

    Koh Ker

    80km northeast of Siem Reap
    Koh Ker

    Koh Ker, located 80 kilometres northeast of Siem Reap, was the capital of the Khmer Empire between 928AD and 944AD. It’s the second largest temple town after Angkor, housing almost 100 temple ruins but the most impressive structure here is Prasat Thom, a large seven-tiered temple complex. Spanning 36 metres in height, the stairway to top offers breathtaking views of Koh Ker, though it’s accessible to a limited number of visitors. It does take over two hours to drive to Koh Ker from Siem Reap so it is less visited than many other temple ruins in the area. Read More...

    • Price Range: US$5
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