The Angkor Archaeological Park is an area stretching over 400 square kilometres near Siem Reap, Cambodia, that contains many remains of what was the capital area of the Khmer Empire during the 9th to 15th century. It included one of the largest pre-industrial city in the world (the ancient city at its height was more than ten times the size of modern-day Manhattan borough of New York City). Today visitors come to the area especially to visit one of the finest ancient monuments in the world, Angkor Wat.
To visit the Angkor Archaeological Park area, if you’re not a local Cambodian, you would need to get a visitor pass that is valid for either one day, three days, or the whole week (we got the three-day pass, which cost USD$40 per person). You need to stop at the front gate, pay the fee, and get your photograph taken to get the pass. You will then need to carry the pass with you at all times. At the entrance of the temples, typically there is someone checking for the pass before you can enter. The pass has your photo on it, so you would have to carry your own to enter the temples.
Angkor Wat is the most popular temple in the Park, but there are others that are equally unique and worth visiting. There is Phnom Bakheng, a temple on top of a hill that provides a nice vantage point of the surrounding area especially around sunset time. You can also visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom with its temples inside. Or you can go to Ta Prohm, a temple ruin consumed by the forest trees that was made famous by the movie Tomb Raider.
The French did a lot to preserve the Angkor temples when they colonized Cambodia. Today two of the main routes for visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park, known as the Little Circuit and the Big Circuit, were routes that were established by the French to visit these temples.
The photo below was taken near the entrance gate while I was waiting to get my entrance pass processed. It’s an illustrated map of the Angkor region, showing the landmarks around that one can explore while visiting the Park.