The heart and soul of Cambodia, the temples of Angkor did not fail to inspire awe in our own hearts and souls. When the Khmer Empire ruled Southeast Asia from approximately the 9th to the 15th centuries, Angkor was its all-powerful capitol. According to The Lonely Planet, Angkor’s population was a bustling 1 million people around the time that London was a small town of 50,000. It’s magnificent how many temples are within the city – numbering around 1,000 if all ruins are counted – and it’s even more mesmerizing to imagine what the ancient capitol was like back at its zenith.
Enduring multiple invasions near the end of the empire’s reign, Angkor was inevitably sacked by Ayutthaya invaders in 1431. Nearly all of Angkor was deserted, except for Angkor Wat, which was still used as a Buddhist temple. Today, the famous wat is said to be the largest single religious monument in the world, and the entire ancient city is a World Heritage Site visited by around 2 million people a year.
We visited this incredible place for 2 days. Day one started with a sunrise at Angkor Wat, followed by a grand circuit tour, driven by our amiable tuk tuk driver. The second day comprised of a little later start and the short circuit tour, including a peaceful walk through the forest amongst seemingly deserted temple ruins. It was nothing short of magical.