Getting away from the crowds at Angkor is an art that not many people have mastered. Start in the early morning with a jeep ride to Ta Prohm. Constructed in the Bayon style between the late 12th and early 13th century, Ta Prohm was left pretty much untouched by archaeologists. The trees that grow out of the ruins allow for a mysterious feeling filled with photogenic opportunities. Leave the temple at the backside and enjoy a short hike to the back entrance of Banteay Kdei, which is known also as the “Citadel of Monks”.
Exiting the temple at the east side will bring you to Sras Srang where a refreshing drink awaits. Continue with a nice walk of 30 minutes from Sras Srang to Batchum temple. Pass through a typical Khmer village with its wooden houses on stilts and observe the daily activities of its people. The jeep waits at this small temple that dates back to the middle of the 10th century. An early lunch is served nearby at a local home.
Continue to Angkor Wat, and enter from the East Gate. Around this time of the day, most people head back for lunch in town, leaving the masterpiece relatively quiet for exploration. King Suryavarman II constructed this magnificent temple and built it to become the largest religious monument in the world. Leave Angkor Wat through the West Gate and continue by jeep to the South Gate of Angkor Thom. Take the opportunity to photograph the impressive entrance to Angkor Thom, which translates to “Great City”. The jeep will drop you at a small temple, beautifully overgrown with trees called Palilay. From here walk through the forest to the Phimeanakas and the Baphuon, both structures built in the pyramid style in the 11th and 10th century respectively. Continue to the centerpiece of the city; the Bayon, which served as a Mahayana shrine dedicated to Buddha. Its most distinctive features are the 216 serene stone faces that seemingly face all directions. Visit the Terrace of the Elephants, which is a 300 meters long terrace. The south stairway is framed with three-head elephants gathering lotus flowers with their trunks. The central stairway is decorated by lions and garudas in bas-reliefs in a stance of support for the stairways. Likewise, the Terrace of Leper King was constructed in the 12th century. The curious name of this terrace refers to a statue of the Leper King that is on the platform of the terrace. Finally, visit the Victory Gate from where a short hike brings you to the East Gate, also known as the Gate of the Death. This gate remains beautifully untouched in a very quiet part of the complex surrounded by forest. It is the perfect place to end the day with a snack and cool drink before you return to town where you enjoy a free evening.