Angkor Wat (Khmer: អង្គរវត្ត or “Capital Temple”) is a temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world, on a site measuring 162.6 hectares (1,626,000 m2; 402 acres). It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple of god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. It was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country’s prime attraction for visitors. Today the temples are a point of pilgrimage for all Cambodians and no traveller will want to miss their extravagant beauty.
Ancient Khmer capital’s population was one million when London was a scrawny town of 50.000. The hundreds of temples surviving today. You can still see the traces (bullet marks) of the clash between the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese Army on the reliefs inside of temple.
Angkor Wat faces to thye west into setting sun, rather than east. Every morning hundreds of people are drawn to the front of the temple to watch the sunrise behind the iconic lotus towers. But probably better to visit in the afternoon when the sun illuminates the front face and galleries. Temple is naturally busy with visitors during the day but if you want to minimise disturbance by other tourists consider entering the back (east) gate of the temple early in the day and remain to view the galleries when most of the sunrise photographers have returned to their hotels for breakfast.
Tips for visiting Angkor Wat:
Angkor Wat is 7km from the centre of Siem Reap. There are several modes of transport including bicycle, tuk tuk or private taxi. If you require an English speaking tour guide, the price is around $30 for half a day (this price includes a tour around the three main temples). Alternatively, you can use local tour guides in which the price can be negotiated and will gain you cheaper access to the entrance of the temple.