Cambodia and Siem Reap in particular are taking very high place on many gay and lesbian travellers “must see” lists lately. We are glad to see numbers of gay and lesbian visitors growing rapidly as Cambodia is certainly one of the most gay friendly destinations in the whole world and has variety of attractions to offer – Temples of Angkor the most famous among them.
It would take weeks and possibly months to see all temples that are part of Angkor Wat Archaeological Park. Most of travellers don’t have that much time available so the question is – what to see. Here are some suggestions. Any readers suggestions will be published and appreciated as we are still discovering once mysterious Cambodia. I hope these suggestions will help with your “must see” list. Have a great and gay time in Cambodia!
Angkor Wat – # 1
Well, obviously and unquestionably the most famous of all Temples of Angkor.
Hundreds of years ago, this temple complex in the middle of the jungle was the heart of a sprawling empire. Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ever since its re-discovery by European explorers in the mid-19th Century, Angkor Wat’s sheer massiveness and breathtaking beauty have awed generations of tourists.
The complex was built between 1130 and 1150 AD by King Suryavarman II, and consists of an enormous temple pyramid covering an area measuring approximately 1300 by 1500 m, surrounded by a moat over 180 m wide.
Angkor Wat is intended to symbolize the universe, as the Hindu Khmer understood it: the moat stands for the oceans around the earth; the concentric galleries represent the mountain ranges surrounding the divine Mount Meru, the Hindu home of the gods, which is itself embodied by the five central towers. The walls are covered with carvings depicting the god Vishnu (to whom Angkor was principally dedicated), as well as other scenes from Hindu mythology.
More information and some photos and videos about Angkor Wat are available at
Banteay Srei – # 2
For many tourists, Banteay Srei is Angkor’s most beautiful temple, the “jewel of Khmer art”. In a beautiful departure from Angkor’s other structures, Banteay Srei is faced with finely-carved pink sandstone covered with beautifully detailed carvings; some of these illustrate scenes from the Hindu epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The nameBanteay Srei, which translates to “Temple of the Women”, may be attributed to the temple’s relatively small scale and the fineness of the artwork.
In a land where kings dictated the construction of temples, Banteay Srei is also an exception: the temple was completed in 967 by Yajnavaraha, an important court official under King Rajendravarman.
More information and some photos about Banteay Srei are available at:
Ta Prohm – # 3
The stonework may be overrun by vegetation, but that may be Ta Prohm’s saving grace. This temple is one of the most popular with Angkor’s visitors, as it’s one of the most evocative of the lot: its rugged good looks even got it a guest shot as a location in the firstTomb Raider movie.
Ta Prohm was built by King Jayavarman VII for his mother.
After its consecration in 1186, Ta Prohm became an active Buddhist monastery and university: a Sanskrit inscription on the site counts about 12,640 people as the complex’s residents, including 13 high priests, 2,740 officials, 2,232 assistants, and 615 dancers.
When conservation efforts began in the early 20th century, it was decided that the trees and vegetation would be left largely in place. Today, trees have grown into (and in some cases, replaced) the temple’s stone superstructure, shading visitors as they walk through the ruins of a great center for learning.
Bayon – # 4
Following his coronation in 1181, our old friend Jayavarman VII began a massive public works program that found its ultimate expression in his capital Angkor Thom and the temple at its heart, the Bayon.
Tourists will enjoy exploring the numerous narrow passageways in the temple, which once bore the statues of minor local deities. The temple’s lower galleries are filled with well-preserved, extremely detailed bas-relief carvings, showing events from Hindu mythology, Khmer history, and vignettes from the lives of Jayavarman’s ordinary subjects.