For many travelers the allure of an unspoiled and little-explored country is irresistible. Designated the "Lost City," Cambodia fits the bill. Of all of the attractions that Cambodia rightfully boasts, the ruined temples from former Cambodian dynasties reign supreme. Primarily in the city Siem Reap in the Angkor region, these ruins become the top things to do in Cambodia. While Cambodia offers a multitude of interests, these ruins are the primary source of fun for the young and old alike.
One of the most famous ruined temple complexes in Angkor, Angkor Wat boasts the title of the largest religious building in the world at 1,950,000 square meters. Despite being aged not only by time but also by the treading of tourists and several closings and openings, Angkor Wat has remained sturdy and resilient in its isolation.
Angkor Wat, at face value, is magnificent and beautiful. However, in order to really experience the complex, take your family or friends early in the morning to experience the sunrise over the beautiful peaks of the temple. It's a quietly popular thing to do at Angkor Wat, and vendors are willing and ready to keep you up in these early hours of the morning. You can't miss Angkor Wat if you're traveling in and looking for the best things to do in Cambodia.
Only about 15 miles away from Angkor Wat is Angkor Thom, historically translated to "the great city." This is a temple complex like Angkor Wat, but is larger in size. There are five different gates to the temple complex, upon which lie the four faces of Avalokiteshvara, a Buddhist god, that are so iconic of the complex. The complex has much to offer, including the Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of the Elephants. The Phimeanakas Temple, located on the site of a now-perished royal palace, can be climbed to see the Baphuon Temple, now being restored.
Stone Heads of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Bayon temple)
The Bayon temple is a notable part of Angkor Tom, with hundreds of the faces of the previously mentioned god Avalokiteshvara donning the surfaces -- this is iconic of classic Khmer architecture found in this region. These smiling faces were initially constructed because of King Suryavarman's fondness of the god, but now, their decrepit state instills a sense of intrigue and mystery into any tourist.
Temple of Ta Prohm
The Temple of Ta Prohm is different from the others in that it portrays the taking over by nature of the temple. While the other temples have been restored and maintained in their original state, this temple almost becomes homage to the beauty and power of nature in Jumanji-esque fashion. While this temple is in no state to be recovered, it is this state of disrepair that is so beautiful.
Banteay Sray, along with Banteay Samre, is another temple that differs from the others, but not in its ability to stand. Its walls are made of sandstone, like other temples, but this temple is made of a type of red sandstone that can be carved like wood. The burnt sienna, reddish stone of this temple makes it a great place to visit, along with the intricate decorations all throughout the structure. There are many empty, intact doorways that scatter the premises, and you may even be able to peek a Cambodian taking a rare moment in the shade away from the volatile sun.
Before you go, grab a "krama" scarf. Residents use this classic Cambodian staple for a variety of things -- cradling babies, protection from sun -- and you keep it as a souvenir from this interesting country.