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Angkor Thom
Written by Rhea Alex on April 28, 2020 Share on

Witness a Masterpiece from the past – Angkor Thom

Tourists visiting the Angkor Thom, find themselves walking into a fortified city that seems enclosed with residences and a number of administrative buildings. Angkor Thom also known as the last capital of the ‘Khmer Empire,’ is undeniably the truest expression of ‘Genius.’

Angkor Thom

It remains the  largest site in the Angkor Archaeological Park, that witnesses thousands of tourists every year. Angor Thom is said to be the greatest actualization of the Buddhist cosmology and represents ideations only the distinguished painters would dare portray.  Within the site, tourists will find some of the most renowned and magnificent temples of the Angkorian Period.

Angkor Thom’s History

Archaeologists believe that the massive empire was constructed after King Jayavarman VII successfully defeated the Cham invaders, leading to the subsequent capture of the Angkorian capital. It was during this phase, that Angkor Thom was built as the new capital city of the Angkorian empire. The site consisted of already existent temples and buildings of the Baphuon and Phimeanakas. It is recorded that the ancient city has a population of almost a million people within its fortified walls.

Most structures built were made from wood and have hence perished with time, what remains today are the stone monuments that are a true testament to the fact that Angor Thom was most definitely a ‘Great City.’ Tourists are welcome to visit the wide array of temples present in the site, some of which include: The Phimeanakas, Terrace of Elephants, The Bayon Temple, Terrace of Leper King and many more.

Angor Thom continued to remain the ‘Great Capital’ of the Khmer Empire until its abandonment in the 16th century. Today, the Angkor Park is regarded as a ‘World Heritage Site,’ along with the other temples present within the park.

Entry into Angkor Thom

Entry into Angkor Thom

The great city has multiple gates, through which tourists can enter the city. Each gate is present at the 4 points of the compass – North, South, East and West; accompanied with the ‘Victory Gate,’ leading all the way through to the Royal Palace. Every gate is home to giant faces and the bridges that lead to the gates are said to be lined with statues of ancient Gods.

Architectural design

The inner city of the Angkor Thom is fortified with walls ranging upto 8 meters high, 12kms long and an additional of five gates at the eastern side of the wall. The gates have statues of Gods and demons and on the contrary, are also adorned with faces of ‘Avalokiteshvara’ – the Goddess of compassion. The wall is circled by a moat that is 100 meters wide.

The Bayon Temple forms the central sanctuary of the Angor Thom, with Baphuon to the west and a few other smaller temples towards the north. The incredibly intricate, ‘Terrace of Elephants ,’ and the ‘Terrace of the Leper King,’ are located north of the Bayon.

The Bayon

The Bayon, Angkor thom

The Bayon Temple remains one of the most stunning and widely admired structures in the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park. The temple was once positioned centrally in the ancient city of Angkor Thom and today is located north of the Angkor Wat. Known for its many towers looking down upon the tourists with gentle smiling faces, the Bayon Temple continues to be one of the most sought after attractions by travelers.

The temple has a large number of towers, ranging to about 50 towers in specific that are said to have 200 faces depicting distinct degrees of erosion over the years. Tourists witness 4-meter-high smiling faces said to signify a state of ‘Nirvana’ among them. The Bayon Temple also has varied bas – reliefs surrounding the temple, with scenes denoting market scenes, naval warfare and so on.


Baphuon, Angkor Thom

Tourists visiting the Baphoun, stumble across a pyramidal representation of ‘Mount Meru,’ and is considered to be one of the most stunningly constructed structures of the Angkor temples. It has a 200m elevated pathway that eventually leads you into the temple, also having a central tower measuring about 43 meters high.

Terrace of the Elephants

Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor Thom

The ‘Terrace of the Elephants,’ is a long terrace platform designed by King Jayavarman VII to witness his victorious armies returning back to the city with great pride, The stairways of the 350 meter long terrace has lions, garudas and images of large elephants displayed on the terrace walls.

Terrace of the Leper King

Terrace of the Leper King, Angkor Thom

As tourists explore the northern parts of the ‘Terrace of Elephants,’ they come across a 7 meter high platform on which is visible a nude statue. The representation or significance of this statue remains unknown till day, though some believe that it is an architectural display of one of the two Angkorian Kings, who had leprosy. While some others are of the belief that it is a symbolic denotation of the ‘Goddess of Death’ and the terrace is the royal crematory.

How to reach Angkor Thom

If you’re looking for a private transfer then the most convenient way for you to reach the Angkor Thom is by hiring a taxi or a ‘Tuk – Tuk,’ all the way to the main area of the Angkor Park. But if you’re not confident about the above option, you could also arrange for a guided bus tour. Either ways, the travel time is about 20 minutes from the Siem Reap entrance to the main temple via car.

Entry Fees

The Angkor Thom by itself does not have a separate entry fee, visitors will have to avail entry tickets to the Angkor Park. The cost about 37 dollars for a one day pass, 62 dollars for the three-day pass and 72 dollars for the seven-day pass.


Tourists are permitted to visit both the Angkor Park and Angkor Thom between 05:00 am and 06:00 pm, every day of the week.

Best Time to Visit

As a tourist, the ideal time to visit the ‘Angor Thom,’ is considered to be between 5:00 am and 7:00 pm, though the timings are subject to vary depending on the varying seasons. The sunrise and sunset is a view, you wouldn’t want to miss. Timings between 05:00 pm and 06:00pm is the right time to witness a stunningly beautiful sight.

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