Angkor Temples – Angkor Thom

The second stop on the small circuit at Angkor is Angkor Thom, most famous for the face towers at the Bayon temple. I forgot to mention in my previous post that many visitors to Angkor follow two circuits, the small circuit and the grand circuit when they visit the temples. These circuits were laid out by the French in the 20th century and continue to be followed by visitors today.

Regrettably, we did not get a very good tour of Angkor Thom as the guide we hired for our visit to Angkor was not as diligent as was to be expected. Generally, a tour of the highlights of the small circuit at Angkor should take a full day, visiting Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm. Our tour was completed in four hours. In our opinion a good guide can be very helpful and a good value at the cost of $35usd for the day; however, it’s disappointing when the services provided are lacklustre. Thankfully we purchased a three-day temple pass and were able to return on another day by ourselves to visit some of the temples we felt we did not get enough time at such as Bayon and Ta Prohm (the latter will be covered in my next post).

Unlike Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom is actually not a temple but rather a city. Literally translated Angkor Thom means “great city” or “large city”. It is the last city of the Khmer empire. Many of its buildings including the palace have long disappeared indicating they were likely constructed of wood. Some of the temples and distinctive features remaining within Angkor Thom are the five entrance gates (of which Victory Gate is the most well known), Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Phnom Bakheng (temple mountain), and most famously the Bayon temple.


One of the entrance gates to the city of Angkor Thom. I believe this was the Victory gate where armies returned victorious from battle. Not sure where the army goes if they are not victorious. Photo taken during running race on iphone.

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A section of the 350 metre long Terrace of the Elephants. This was the platform from which King Jayavarman VII viewed his victorious returning army. Photo taken during running race with iphone.


The Bayon


Entrance terrace of the Bayon


Bas relief on the outer wall of the outer gallery depicting scenes from everyday life and historical events. There are 1km of bas reliefs.


Bas relief on outer wall of inner gallery depicting mythological events


Collapsed roof of inner gallery


Columns of the inner gallery placed right next to the wall of the central sanctuary on the left, which possibly indicates that the central sanctuary of the face towers was not part of the original plan for the temple.


Looking up at a smiling face tower 23 meters in height


Taking it in


Famous smiling faces of the Bayon


Smiling face




My boy and I. We went back to visit Angkor Thom after my running race, hence the running outfit and race bib:)


Time for exploration


And time for resting


Combination of super early start+more templing=goofiness


The magnificent Bayon




2 thoughts on “Angkor Temples – Angkor Thom

    • When I walk through these historical places I always imagine what it was like during its prime. Hope you guys are having a great time! And post photos of your visit to the Mayan site!


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