TEMPLES OF ANGKOR
An essential stop on any tour of Cambodia, the first glimpse of the towers of Angkor Wat will bring goose bumps to even the most jaded traveler. As one approaches the wonderment only increases-the enormity is almost unbelievable and the stone bas-reliefs so exquisitely carved.
Get there for sunrise at the main entrance and prepare to be floored. The sunset from its upper gallery is also unforgettable. There is an air of immense mystery to the Angkor complex, like a pervading fragrance that intoxicates the traveler. Once in your lifetime you simply have to see this.
Angkor Thom, the "Great City," was the last capital of the Khmer Empire, built by King Jayavarman VII at the turn of the 12th to 13th centuries. Inside its walls lie Baphuon, Phimeanakas, the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, and at the very center, the Bayon, with over 200 faces carved on its 54 towers. If you have only a day, visit the temples above and Ta Prohm, which has been mostly untouched by archaeologists and remains in the grasp of the jungle.
Within its jungle-covered ruins immense kapok trees grow through the gray sandstone galleries. An almost overwhelming sense of wonder and awe will wash over you in this sanctuary, as your imagination attempts to fathom the life pulsing throughout these structures at the height of the Khmer empire.
This magnificent and massive maze of corridors and carvings is currently being restored by the World Monument Fund and is well worth a visit.
PREAH NEAK PEAN
With its collection of five ponds and unusual design, this is a compact, and generally untouristed, little-known gem.
Other important structures to visit if you have two days are Prasat Kravan, Pre Rup, Ta Keo, Banteay Kdei and Sras Srang.