Siem Reap’s energetic and forever expanding tourist industry is all down to the fact that one of the world’s most incredible ancient sites sits next door. The vast Angkorian city that sprawls across Angkor Archaeological Park (more commonly called after its major temple complex, Angkor Wat, by visitors) built by a succession of kings between the 9th and 15th centuries, contains hundreds of temples and is so vast that even after multiple visits, you’ll still feel you’ve only scratched the surface.
During the medieval age, this was the world’s largest city, though only the temples remain today. The main temple complex within the site is Angkor Wat itself with its stunning bas-reliefs carved with scenes from traditional Hindu epics. In particular make sure to check out the Churning of the Ocean Milk bas-relief on the east gallery.
After Angkor Wat, head to the sprawling 10-square-kilometer Angkor Thom complex where you’ll find one of the most photogenic temples in the site. The Bayon Temple is famed for its 216 stone faces of Avalokiteśvara carved into the temple’s 54 towers, built by the king Jayavarman VII, but don’t miss the intricate bas-reliefs running around the temple walls that depict life here in the city and various battle scenes. If you’ve only got one day up your sleeve to hit the temples the next destination on your tick list should be Ta Prohm, easily one of the most photogenic sights here due to its half-tumbled buildings entwined with tree roots. With more than a day to discover the legacy of the Angkorian kings, there is a vast amount of other temples to see.