best temples in siem reap
Top 12 Temples to Visit in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Temples are everywhere in Siem Reap.

There are temples two streets away from where you are standing. There are temples right behind your hotel. There are temples beside the temple that you're visiting. The only difference is how new or old they are; Chances are that you are only interested in seeing the oldest ones.

The first step to your temple tour is to purchase the temple pass. Once that is settled, it's time to brace yourself for the longest, most monotonous excursion in your life. Since it is only natural for travelers to always wanting to make the most out of the limited time that they have in a country, they would then want to experience as much as they could within any given day. Surviving a day (or two, or three, even seven days) of temple tour, however, requires much more determination than you think. After the third temple, a revelation will hit you and you'll start to question yourself as to why you would spend so much time and effort walking around..... ruins and rubble.

So, I did 12 temples within 11 hours. How many can you do? Below is a list of some of the best temples to visit when you are at Siem Reap:

Read also: 10 Must-Try Cambodian Dishes

Top 12 Temples to Visit in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat Temple

This Cambodian temple complex is the largest known religious monument in the world by land area - with a site measuring 162.6 hectares. Wake up early to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. It is simply an experience you cannot afford to miss when traveling to Cambodia!

popular temples in siem reap
Sunrise at Angkot Wat at Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Thom Temple

The majestic Angkor Thom temple is literally translated to be the "Great City". It was the last capital city of the Khmer Empire, and was established in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. The scenery along this road to the temple is other-worldly, so remember to get your camera ready!

what to do in siem reap
Angkor Thom temple in Cambodia

Bayon Temple

The temple of Bayon is an elaborately decorated Khmer temple located within Angkor in Cambodia. It was built in the late 12th century as the state temple for the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. In the past, the Bayon stood at the center of the Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom.

what to see in siem reap
Bayon is packed with tourists that come in hordes. Be patient when waiting for your turn to take a photo of the towers.

Prasat Prei Temple

Prasat Prei or "Sanctuary of the Forest" is a temple located to the south of Banteay Prei. This temple is extremely small when compared to other structures in the area, with an outer enclosure measuring only about 20x24 meters. Within the temple is a central cruciform sanctuary and a single 'library', and the entrance is through a heavily damaged gopura.

best temples in siem reap
Prasat Prei Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

Prasat Bakong Temple

Bakong is the first temple mountain constructed using sandstone that was erected during the ruling of the Khmer Empire. In the late 9th century AD, it was used as the official state temple of King Indravarman I in the ancient city of Hariharalaya. Now, it is located in a village known as Roluos.

best temples in siem reap
Prasat Bakong Temple, Angkor, Cambodia
best temples in siem reap
Aerial view of the Prasat Bakong Temple, Angkor, Cambodia
Source: Grand Dixon Photography

Phnom Bakheng Temple

Phnom Bakheng is a Hindu and Buddhist temple that was constructed at the top of a mountain. The structure was erected during the end of the 9th century, during the reign of King Yasovarman, and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

popular temples in siem reap
Phnom Bakheng has become a popular destination to catch the sunset and gets crowded in the evening

Banteay Srei Temple

Banteay Srei or Banteay Srey is temple constructed in the 10th-century that was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It is located near the Phnom Dei Hill, which is approximately 25-kilometer north-east of the main temple complexes. The journey to Banteay Srei takes a 45-minute ride from Siem Reap.

what to do in siem reap
Banteay Srei is originally known as Tribhuvanamahesvara or “citadel of the women”

Terrace of the Elephants

The Terrace of the Elephants is an impressive 350-metre-long and 2.5-metre-high ornamental wall decorated with gigantic carved elephants. It was constructed in the late 12th century as a viewing platform for King Jayavarman VII to look over his victorious returning army. In the past, the terrace was attached to the Phimeanakas Royal Palace in the heart of the ancient Khmer capital city. While most of the original structure has collapsed, the terrace remains relatively intact, along with its carvings.

what to see in siem reap
Terrace of the Elephants is an UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Angkor Archaeological Park

Ta Prohm Temple

Known to foreigners as the 'Tomb Raider Temple', Ta Prohm is built in Bayon style during the late 12th century. It was originally known as Rajavihara, and was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery. Unlike other Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm is left in the same condition in which it was discovered, with trees growing wildly out of the ruins. It is one of the most visited complexes in the Angkor region thanks to the unique features and untouched ruins.

popular temples in siem reap
Ta Prohm or the 'Tomb Raider Temple'
Ta Prohm temple siem reap
Rajavihara or Ta Prohm in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Baphuon Temple

Constructed in the mid-11th century, Baphuon is a grand three-tiered temple mountain built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II, and was also dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. The beautiful temple mountain with steep stairs brings visitors to a terrace that offers one of the most magnificent views of the ancient complex.

what to do in siem reap
Baphuon Temple at Angkor, Cambodia

Phimeanakas Temple

Phimeanakas or also known as Vimeanakas is a Hindu temple that was erected in the Khleang style. It was built in the 10th century during the reign of King Rajendravarman, and was subsequently completed by Suryavarman I. The complex has a rather distinct shape of a three-tier pyramid for a Hindu temple.

best temples in siem reap
Phimeanakas or Vimeanakas at Angkor, Cambodia is a Hindu temple built in Khleang style

Phnom Kulen Temples

We did not make it to the astounding Phnom Kulen, but you should! The Cambodia's most sacred mointain of Phnom Kulen is home to countless temples and residences, such as the 1000 Lingas at Kbal Spean, the Terrace of Sdach Kum Ling Temple, and Srah Damrei - a large sandstone sculpture of an elephant. Here, you can also catch the view of a cascading waterfall. Phnom Kulen is a 2-hour drive from Siem Reap, and is in an entirely different direction from the other popular temples in the region.

Travel Tips During Temple Visits in Cambodia

Always put on appropriate attire when visiting the temples in Cambodia. You are required to cover yourself with long pants (below the knees) and a shirt or blouse that cover your shoulder. Avoid skirts, shorts, singlets or other types of clothing that are revealing as these are not allowed on temple grounds. Speak softly and avoid obscene behaviors such as kissing, touching or cussing. It is important to respect others spiritual beliefs and cultural practices, particularly in Southeast Asia.

angkor temples siem reap
Dress appropriately, put on a good, comfy pair of shoes and you're ready for temple-hopping adventures across Siem Reap!

Happy templing, and make sure to dress appropriately!
For related articles, click here.