Angkor Archeological Park is 400 sq.km. The size of this ancient city was difficult to comprehend. We bought the 3-day pass, so we could cover the main attractions plus few more temples (some were not temples).
The top 5 sites that I would recommend would be in the order of:
1) Angkor Wat – it even appeared in the Cambodian flag, so you know how important this site would be.
2) Banteay Srei – the sandstone carvings were livelier than drawings.
3) The Bayon – the big faces were my first impression of Angkor.
4) Ta Prohm – who can forget those giant trees and roots that swallowing (still eating) the ancient temple? You could not miss this if you are a fan of Tomb Raider
5) Preah Khan – nothing special from the first glance, but closer look at the architecture would reveal the importance of this site.
Of course, if you like ruins, Beng Mealea would be a good choice (but further afield).
Now let’s see how small was the Lolei Temple （罗蕾寺）. This was the place for the King to pray for rain.
Beng Mealea used to receive very few visitors due to its remote location at 70km from Siem Reap town. This site was famous for its ‘bad shape and ruins, covered with moss’. This statement was no longer true when we visited Beng Mealea on 31st January 2012.
As the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia and crowned with the UNESCO biosphere, I would expect lots of interesting scenes at Tonlé Sap Lake.
At merely 487m, Kulen Mountain (Phnom Kulen) is nothing impressive in term of height; but it is the sacred hill in the eyes of the Cambodians. There was lots of history behind this national park (pending for UNESCO World Heritage title).
The Chinese name for this hill is Lychee Mountain (荔枝山). 中国元朝使节周达观到此一游。撒下了许多荔枝种子，树多成林，便是荔枝山名称的由来。
Jayavarman VII built Ta Phrom for his mother, and Preah Khan for his father.
I engaged Mr Phansy Ros as our tour guide to the Temples of Angkor and around Siem Reap area. I would recommend his service to anyone who is visiting Siem Reap with similar objectives like mine:
1) avoid text book reading type of tour. I don’t like to join tour but private tour guide can make your visit a better experience and better use of time.
2) tour against the traffic with less tourist ‘heads’ in my pictures
3) have the opportunity to extend helping hands to rural children with insufficient fund
Pause for a moment and stare into her eyes before reading on …
“Mountain People Mountain Rocks” would be a new phrase to describe the flood of tourists overflowing at every tunnels and every roads in side the Angkor Archaeological Park. Luckily we decided to engage an experienced local guide to swim against the traffic. So we managed to cut down 95% of the tourists during our visit to Angkor (Siem Reap).