Post-Trip, 4 Days
One of the world's great architectural achievements, Angkor has intrigued Western travelers ever since French naturalist Henri Mouhot stumbled upon its ruins in the jungles of Cambodia in 1860. Delve into this incredible site and discover the ancient world of the Khmer Empire at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Examine the site's elaborate irrigation system, behold the enigmatic faces of the Bayon Temple, and explore temples engulfed by thick jungle roots at Ta Prohm.
This morning, fly to Siem Reap and transfer to our hotel upon arrival. After some time to relax, set out to explore the extraordinary temple complex of Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious structure. Built by King Suryavarman II during the golden age of the Khmer Empire, this 12th-century temple reflects the evolution of the Khmer's belief system from Hinduism to Mahayana Buddhism. Venture into galleries where stunning bas-reliefs depict scenes of battles, the Ramayana, and the Hindu legend of the "Churning of the Ocean of Milk." See some of the 3,000 apsaras, or heavenly nymphs, that are carved into the temple walls. Cap off the day by watching the sun set over this ancient wonder.
La Residence d'Angkor or Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor (L,D)
Spend the morning exploring Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire. In the center of this ancient city sits the majestic Bayon Temple, a 12th-century masterpiece known for its colossal carved faces. After lunch, visit Preah Khan, or "sacred sword," built by King Jayavarman VII in honor of his father. Explore the temple's myriad halls and pavilions, causeways and moats, and look for the delicate frieze of apsaras in the Hall of Dancers. From there, continue to the small island temple of Neak Pean, surrounded by a network of ponds that were believed to have curative powers. Later this evening, enjoy spectacular views as the sun sets over the storied towers of Angkor Thom.
La Residence d'Angkor or Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor (B,L)
This morning, venture north to explore one of Angkor's jewels—Banteay Srei. Constructed of rose-colored sandstone, the 10th-century temple features intricate carvings illustrating ancient Hindu tales. Enjoy a picnic lunch and then continue to Kbal Spean, or "River of a Thousand Lingas." Take a lovely walk through the jungle to an area where the riverbed has been elaborately carved with Hindu images, which are said to bless the water before it flows into the reservoirs of Angkor. Further downstream, larger stone carvings depict apsaras, Vishnu, and other Hindu mythological figures. This afternoon, visit the temples of Thommanon, Chao Say Tevoda, and Ta Keo. Explore Ta Prohm, known as the "Kingdom of Trees" because of the giant banyan, kapok, and fig tree roots that have coiled their way into the temple structure.
La Residence d'Angkor or Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor (B,L,D)
After breakfast, visit the Angkor National Museum and browse an impressive collection of Khmer artifacts. Time-permitting, stop by Les Artisans d'Angkor to watch local youth being trained in age-old Khmer arts. Transfer to the airport this afternoon for your flight home.
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