Angkor Wat is the most elaborate and most famous wat, or temple, from the Kymer period in the Angkor region of Cambodia, near what is now Siem Reap. It is considered to be the largest religious monument in the world and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage SIte.
Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century as a home to the Hindu god Vishnu. In the 13th century, it was converted to a Buddhist monastery. The temple was largely covered by jungle until restoration began late in the 19th century. "Angkor Wat" means ''ancient city that is a monastery" and it is thought that a vast city flourished between the outside walls and the inner walls.
Angkor Wat is about five miles from the city of Siem Reap. There are over a dozen major sites and hundreds of smaller temples and ruins within a seventy miles radius of the city.
This is the largest religious monument in the world, four times larger than St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. There are outer wall and inner walls, separated by a large moat representing the ocean. The centerpiece is a massive three-level pyramid with five towers representing a holy mountain. The structures are built of sandstone covered with elaborate bas relief sculptures.
Tickets to tour all the temples and in the Angkor region are sold in a temple complex pass. Ticket prices are $20 for one day, $40 for three days and $60 for one week. Most tourists purchase a three day pass. If you buy the pass in the late afternoon that visit does not count toward your quota. The light is best for photographs at Angkor Wat in the late afternoon.
The entire temple is lit up each night for the sound and light show entitled "The Legend of Angkor Wat: When History Comes to Life". The show features performers in costumes designed after the sculptures on the walls of Angkor Wat. Few tourists attend the show, but many locals do.
Copies of Lonely Planet guides and other guidebooks of Cambodia with beautiful photographs are available for $4-6 in the parking lots in front of Angkor Wat and other sites in the Angkor region