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Time Required : You can explore the temple and the surrounding area in a day. It will take around 2-3 days to explore the whole park apart from Angkor Wat at a slow pace.

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Angkor Thom, Siem Reap Overview

Angkor Thom, located in Angkor archaeological park in Siem Reap in Cambodia, is an ancient walled city. It was the capital town of Khmer dynasty for over 400 years. King Jayavarman VII, the greatest Khmer emperor, constructed Angkor Thom after defeating the Cham rulers and coming to power. Angkor Thom was discovered along with the rest of the area in the 18th century, after being hidden from the world for many centuries.

Angkor Thom was a rich and flourishing town for many years. It is estimated that this heavily secured city had almost a million residents at its peak. It was a vast city consisting of a Royal Palace, many state temples including Bayon and royal terraces.

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Ticket details

The entrance fee for admission to Angkor Thom and all its structures is included with the temple pass for central Angkor. Foreigners are required to buy an admission pass, called Angkor pass, which can only be purchased at the official ticket centre, located 4 kilometres away from Siem Reap town. It is open from 5:00 AM to 5:30 PM every day. The entrance ticket can be purchased either by cash (US Dollars, Cambodian Riel, Thai Bath or Euro) or by credit card.

Tickets issued after 5:00 PM are only valid from the next day. There are three types of admission passes available, depending on the number of entries:
1-Day: USD 37 for a day pass
3-Days: USD 62 valid for ten days
7-Days: USD 72 valid for one month

Best time to visit

Early morning before and just after sunrise are the best times to visit Angkor Thom.

Angkor Thom History & Significance

The unusual and distinguishing character of Angkor Thom lies in its symbolism. Angkor Thom represented a microcosm of the universe with four axes. The water moat surrounding the city symbolised ocean in its universal form, while the fortified wall indicated the boundaries. This spectacular symbolism is rare in history and architecture, and this is what probably makes Angkor Thom genuinely marvellous.

Angkor Thom was the centre of Khmer history, which witnessed many kings during its existence that lasted for four centuries. King Jayavarman VII, the greatest Khmer king, commissioned the construction of many public buildings in the city during his reign. He built more than 200 hospitals, dozens of schools, Buddhist shrines, and other public offices making it an excellent city for his subjects.

Architecture/Layout

Angkor Thom city was square in structure, built mostly of sandstones. A water moat running for miles around the walls of the town served as additional protection. The depth of the canal was at least 100 feet with crocodiles guarding them, which kept invaders at bay. Long causeways led to the gates from the moat. The path consists of huge statues of 54 Devas and 54 Asuras, holding a giant serpent, indicating the ‘Churning of the Ocean of Milk’ or Samudra Manthan, a scene in Hindu mythology.

The city had five gates, in the north, south, east and west directions, plus a victory gate. Of all gates of Angkor Thom, the south gate was a prominent point of entry. Even today, all the tourists enter through the south. The causeway leading to this gate consists of the statues of Asuras and Devas mentioned above, and you can see how elaborate and precise the construction looks.

Main structures in Angkor Thom

Bayon Temple
With a history of 800 years and hundreds of giant smiling faces, Bayon is the most famous structure in Angkor Thom. If you have little time to spend in Angkor Thom and want to check out just one of the structures, it should be Bayon. Built as a state temple by King Jayavarman VII, it is the only Buddhist temple of the city and symbolised the authority of the King. Extending the unique symbolism of Angkor Thom, Bayon temple located precisely at the centre was a link between heaven and the earth.
The Royal Palace and Phimeanakas
It's hard to envision a palace today as tourists can mostly see blocks of ruins covered with dense foliage and trees. During the Khmer rule, however, a massive royal residence with a tall golden tower stood here, which was home to all the kings. The glorious architecture of the palace represented the wealth and status of the Khmer emperors.

The Phimeanakas was a state temple within the royal palace premises, and also housed a big bathing area. Like the present state of the palace, not much remains of this temple except the central tower ruins, which can be climbed using the steep, narrow wooden stairs. The view from the tower gives a good glimpse of the megacity that Angkor Thom once was.
Baphuon Temple
Baphuon, known as the mountain temple for its sheer size, was built in the 11th century and is older than Angkor Thom city. You can distinguish this temple by its unique architecture consisting of towers which looks like pyramids with intricate sculptures. Although initially, Baphuon was a Buddhist temple, it, later on, became a Hindu temple. You can see many narratives from the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata carved on the walls.
The Elephant Terrace
The Elephant terrace, rich in sculptures of elephants, mythical creatures, lions and serpents was a royal pavilion located next to the palace.
The Leper King Terrace
Beside the Elephant terrace is the Leper King terrace, another royal pavilion. This elegant terrace got its name after a king who was known as the Leper King. The terrace consists of many detailed bas reliefs, another example of exemplary Khmer architecture.

If you still have more time, you can visit other structures in Angkor Thom like Preah Palilay, Prasat Chrung, Tep Pranam, Prasat Suor Prat and The Khleangs.

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