The ancient spiritual city of Angkor in Cambodia is a wonderfully spectacular and relatively affordable destination for many travelers. Its temple complexes and elaborate sculpture will dazzle any adventurer making the pilgrimage to see its artistic beauty first hand. It is a shining stone testament to the devotion and resolve of its inhabitants, as well as to the skill, vitality, and creativity of its artisans. To gaze upon its beauty is to be transported to a moment when humanity could live in harmony with nature and still maintain a grandiose and culturally abundant society. Such an ancient mystical city is the kind often fantasized by books and movies such as Indiana Jones, yet it stands ready to be explored by anyone today.
Angkor is currently considered to be the largest pre-industrial city in the world by far at a measurement of approximately 3000 kilometers, while the closest is Tikal in Mexico measuring in at only around 100 to 150 kilometers in comparison. The principal structure of Angkor Wat was likely constructed in the years between 1110 and 1150. What may be amazing is that the elaborate and ornate complexes of these ancient structures became hidden by forest for hundreds of years, prior to the rediscovery of Angkor Wat and its surrounding city in the 19th Century. Imagine an ancient city approximately the size of modern Los Angeles being lost in the forest!
There are many buildings comprising Angkor and most tourism tends to focus on the buildings near Angkor Wat as they likely comprise the greatest concentration of large and ornate structures. The primary structure of the Wat itself is large and elaborate enough to justify days of exploration in its gorgeous walls alone. It is covered in complex bas relief carvings depicting scenes from various epics both from the Vedic culture of India to the historical depictions of Angkor life. It is like a three dimensional stone picture book carved in the shape of a large and ancient building. One can easily see the majesty and strength of Angkorian society as well as the devotional integrity and skill of its artists and craftsmen.
The nearby Bayon is another temple close to the Wat which has some truly unique features and is definitely a favorite to some, as it is a spectacularly amazing temple to behold. The entire temple is essentially constructed of many large stone heads and each is a monument worthy of the Louvre or any other museum of its kind. Thankfully the treasures of the Bayon were too large for any museum or maverick adventurer to have pilfered and so it stands still today for everyone to enjoy. There is possibly no other temple on Earth like it, so it is a highly recommended experience that is most certainly worthy of a personal visit.
There are countless more buildings and temples to explore in the Angkor area and one can, although somewhat quickly, see many of them within a week or so. The town of Siem Reap nearby offers most of the modern amenities one would need to properly enjoy Angkor as a vacation destination. One may find the low prices and good food particularly refreshing. So start planning a trip to Angkor, it is a rare place that will likely exceed your expectations.