Tag Archives: feature

Amazing Angkor Wat Photo Tour

35 photo tour of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temples

Angkor Wat is one of the most impressive sites in the world, and was immediately a highlight of my southeast Asia trip. The temples are breathtaking!  While you need to visit them in Cambodia to appreciate it, below is a photo tour of the experience.

I’ll start with some sunrise photos, because that’s what it’s famous for and I love them!  I’ll show you the geography, then sprinkle in a little history, with photos throughout the post.

Angkor Wat at sunrise
Angkor Wat at sunrise. This brilliant photo is from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff at Stuck in Customs
Where is Angkor Wat?

Angkor Wat is located in Siem Reap, in Cambodia. Along with Angkor Thom, the Bayon temples, and Ta Prohm, Angkor might be the best two-day trip you can take in all of Asia.

Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap, Cambodia

History

Angkor Wat was built by the vanished Khmer empire. It was constructed during the reign of King Suryavarman II, who ruled from 1113 to at least 1145.

in the halls of Angkor Wat

Did you know?

Angkor is located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap literally translates to ‘defeat of Siam,’ which is today’s Thailand. It’s a conflict that goes back centuries, between the Siamese and Khmer people.

Angkor Wat sunrise in Cambodia
photo by JonJon Pascua

The real “tomb raider” ?

This is Angkor’s only temple with tombs, despite the “Tomb Raider” movie being shot at nearby Ta Prohm, where there’s no tombs.

The Library at Angkor Wat.
The Library at Angkor Wat. Photo from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff

“Angkor Wat” translates to “The city that is a temple.”

Aspara dancers everywhere!

There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.

There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.
There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in the walls.
Did you know?

I found this interesting – “Angkor Wat” translates to “The city that is a temple.” It’s true, it’s both a city and temple at the same time.

Angkor Wat entrance - Angkor Wat at Visit50.com
“The city that is a temple.”

Stories in the Walls – a closer look

The walls of Ankor Wat tell stories of war heroes and battles from their troubled past - Visit50.com
The temple walls tell stories of war heroes and battles from their troubled past
Buddhist monk explores Angkor Wat
Buddhist monk explores the walls. Many tourists forget the religious significance
The Battle of Kurukshetra is the subject of this bas-relief at Angkor Wat.
The Battle of Kurukshetra is depicted in this impressive bas-relief.
How long did it take to build?

They say Angkor Wat took 30 years to build, which seems like a long time, until you see all the rich detail on nearly every wall. Nearly every wall has details you can miss!

a monk at - Angkor Wat
Nearly every wall has details you can miss!
Why was Angkor Wat built?

Scholars say the temples were built for funerary purposes, since its bas-reliefs are meant to be viewed anti-clockwise, a direction that was associated with death in the Khmer empire.

entrance of Angkor Wat

From Hindu to Buddhist?

This stone sculpture depicts the 8 arms of Vishnu, the powerful Hindu god, but with the head of Buddha. When Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple, the head of Vishnu was replaced with the head of Buddha.

Count the arms...VERY powerful!
Count the arms…VERY powerful!

statue in Angkor Wat - count the armsMany devatas grace the walls. Devata is another word for deva, the Hindu term for deity

a devata graces the walls in Angkor Wat. Devata is another word for deva, the Hindu term for deity
Many devatas grace the walls. Devata is another word for deva, the Hindu term for deity
a youthful monk learns to read the future
a youthful monk learns to read the future
Angkor Wat statue missing its head after it got raided. They stole the heads!
Raided. They stole the heads!
Angkor Wat entrance
“Angkor Wat” translates to The city that is a temple
Cambodian wedding photo shoot at Angkor Wat
Cambodian wedding photo shoot. I saw wedding photo shoots both times I visited, so perhaps it’s a popular spot for wedding photos.
Anchor Wat reflection in the reflecting pool. It was under repair
under repair when we went – the green tarps typically aren’t there

reflection of the temple towers in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ankor Wat and the reflecting pond
my first time in Cambodia and the reflecting pond

me at Angkor Wat

 

amazing Angkor Wat - best photo of the temples and reflecting pool in Cambodia
Photo from ITLWMT

temple at Angkor Wat

"Library" from Angkor Wat
“Library”. While its true purpose remains unknown, scholars say it most likely functioned broadly as a religious shrine, rather than strictly as repositories of manuscripts
devata at the entrance of Angkor Wat
devatas at the entrance

 

statue of animal guarding the city walls of Angkor Wat
guarding the complex walls
photo of the walls at the entrance.  8 meters high and 3 km long, and flanked by a moat.
The walls at the entrance are 8 meters high and 3 km long, and flanked by a moat.
The "swimming pool" at Angkor Wat
The “swimming pool” – looks good for being 1000 yrs old!
Cruciform gallery separating the courtyards in Angkor Wat
Cruciform gallery separating the courtyards
details of ruins. Look closely at everything - from a distance this looked like a pile of rocks
look closely at everything – from a distance this looked like a pile of rocks
tower at the temple
closeup of one of the towers
My favorite in the Angkor Wat complex?

Finally, if you’re going to Siem Reap, you’ll definitely also want to check out both the Bayon temples / Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm (post coming soon). Those are my favorites!

Impressive Petra!

Petra in Jordan is impressive! You’ve seen it on Indiana Jones, but it’s actually REAL! I’ll take you on a photo tour of Petra, and share the history. I highly recommend visiting!

Petra, one of the 7 Wonders of the World

First I’ll briefly catch you up on the history. Next, let’s take a photo tour.

History

Petra was established in the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans. They carved the entire city out of the rock. They didn’t build columns – they kept carving the rock until they had columns. Given the back-story, it’s some of the most impressive architecture I’ve seen.

The Monastary

The Monastery at Petra, The Monastery of Petra, (aka Ad-Dayr or Ad-Deir in Arabic), in Jordan
The Monastery, (aka Ad-Dayr or Ad-Deir in Arabic)

Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Petra is one of the new seven wonders of the world (as of 2007) . It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site as well (since 1985).

The Monastery is massive - Petra, Jordan
The Monastery is massive!

Next, let’s walk down to their canyon called the Siq.

The Siq in Petra

at the Siq, the narrow passageway to Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") at the ruins in Jordan
at the Siq, the narrow passageway to Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”)

Siq – Scale / By the numbers

The Siq is a 250-foot-high (76-meter-high) sandstone slot canyon. So impressive!

Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") - carved out of rock.
Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”) – carved out of rock.

The site from Indiana Jones

Watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade before you arrive.  You may recognize this spot (above photo) from the film.

The movie’s fictional “Canyon of the Crescent Moon” was modeled on it. The Siq leads directly to Al Khazneh (the Treasury). The Siq is pictured above, and the Treasury is below.

in front of Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") in Petra, Jordan
in front of Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”) in Jordan

When was it discovered?

Petra was established as early as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans. You can visit it now, but the site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812. UNESCO describes it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. I agree! It’s such a gem!

camel at the ruins in Jordan

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 

At the film’s climactic final scenes, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery burst forth from the Siq and walk deep into the labyrinths of the Treasury in their quest to find the Holy Grail. But, as usual, archaeological fact bowed to Hollywood fiction when Indy came to Petra.

In reality, the Treasury is nothing more than a facade with a relatively small hall once used as a royal tomb.-Nat Geo

Monastary in Petra
photo by seetheholyland.net

There are dozens of tombs and other carved or constructed structures and sites within the city.

detail on the rocks in Petra
photo by Maureen
boulder falling
Don’t let the boulders fall on you!

Where is Petra?

You’ll find it in Jordan, in the Middle East. While you’re in Jordan, I suggest you also visit the Dead Sea and the Wadi Rum desert.

Jordan mapPetra map

Itinerary and tips

By now I think you know how much I love Petra. I recommend visiting as soon as it opens at 6am, if you’re able to. I really wish I had done that. Here’s why:

  • You’ll get it all to yourself
  • Get to experience the city before it gets swarmed by tourists
  • Walk through the Siq without waiting or getting bumped. As a reminder, the Siq are very narrow.
  • Catch an epic sunrise!
  • Explore before it gets too hot (bring lots of water)
  • Petra is photogenic! Take some great photos without competing for the angle!

Another name for the city?

“Wadi Musa” is another name for the same place. Google Maps sometimes refers to it this way.

Petra from a distance