Angkor Thom: My Favorite Temple at Angkor Wat

Entrance to Bayon - Angkor Thom at Angkor Wat - Pre Dawn

Entrance to Bayon - Angkor Thom at Angkor Wat - Pre Dawn. This temple was constructed as a dedication to Buddha.

Angkor Thom at Angkor Wat – Pre Dawn

HDR Photo of Angkor Thom is on sale here

 An Angkor Wat Visit Trims My Bucket List

One more thing gets crossed off my bucket list now that I’ve been to Angkor Wat. This Cambodian icon, just outside of Siem Reap, is impressive. What many people aren’t aware of about this sacred place is that it is comprosed of dozens of ruins of temples within a short drive/bike/Tuk Tuk ride of each other.  Only one of the temples, the largest,  actually carries the name “Angkor Wat.”  Surprisingly, it isn’t my favorite of the temples.  In fact, I would say it’s third on the list.

Bayon Temple, inside Angkor Thom, is a Sacred Place

Buddha faces carved in stone at Bayon temple at Angkor Thom

Stone fces of Buddha at Bayon Temple at Angkor Wat

Your soul fills up involuntarily with sacred appreciation as you enter the ruins of Bayon, my favorite temple in the complex.  It’s a magical feeling to stand here.  Large quarried ancient stones lay spread in ruins at my feet.  The large faces carved into the rocks of the temple overhead inspire awe and wonder. This temple was built about 1,000 years ago as a dedication to Buddha.

The sun is not quite up yet, but could pop over the horizon any second now. Here I am… and it is so very still and quiet, very quiet.  The thousands of tourists here for sunrise are not at this place, Bayon.  They are all at the namesake of these temples, Angkor Wat, a couple of kilometers from here.  I know, who the hell wants to be smack in the middle of literally THOUSANDS of maniacal tourists scurrying to not be late for ‘The Sunrise” at Angkor Wat.   Well, that’ just what you DO your first day visiting here.  It’s almost like the Holy grail for tourists.  Yesterday, my first visit to Angkor Wat, was my turn fighting through the huge mob.  I came out of it un-hurt, got my postcard shot of sunrise at Angkor Wat (which I’ll  process one day soon) and knew I wasn’t going to come back here the following morning.  No way!

Buddha Face Carvings in Stone at Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom

Buddha Face Carvings in Stone at Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom - There are 5 faces in this photo. Can you find them all? Click photo to enlarge before you try.

While the crowd remained to actually SEE the sun rise over Angkor Wat, I bounced early while there was still color in the dragon shaped clouds floating above the spires of the main temple.

My nephew, Johann, had been to Angkor Wat before.  He lives on an island off Sihounelville 6 months out of the year and has been asking for family to visit him sometime.  I am the first to visit him and it was under the condition that he go to Angkor Wat with me for photography.

Here we were. So after I got my shot at the main temple Johann thought we might be able to grab our Tuk Tuk driver and make it to Bayon in time for actual sunrise.

Tuk Tuk drivers, as a whole, are not all that reliable.  While the tourists that they have driven here explore the temples, the drivers usually unfurl their hammocks and sleep.  There are hundreds of TukTuks parked outside the main temple and, long story short, we didn’t locate our driver in time to get to Angkor Thom & Bayon before the sun actually popped into the morning sky.  We would do that first thing tomorrow morning.

HDR Processing with Lightroom

Making the photographs on this page, and the others of Angkor Wat, was done using a new simple workflow.  In the article containing my epic photo of Bayon @ Angkor Wat, I explain more about this workflow and the only softwre needed is Lightroom and the inexpensive Photomatix plugin for $29.  To get a full video tutorial (free, by the way) please signup for my Perfect HDR Newsletter and the easy to follow, step by step video will be included in the next issue.


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Showing 9 comments
  • Keryan James

    Asia is indeed a unbelievable source of inspiration! I did not know about this place.

    I finally found the fifth head in the picture ;)

  • kobi

    breath taking images.. Thanks for sharing such beauty. Hopefully soon I will be able to visit the sight my self

  • Richard Thompson

    I’ve really wanted to make it to the Angkor Wat one day, and it’s good to know some of the secrets of visiting it. I feel like the actual Angkor Wat is a must see, but the other temples in the area is probably where I would spend a majority of my time. Great pics as well!

  • Simon

    I am amazed with your photographs. They are so beautiful that you made me want to go to Angkor Wat. I like exotic places and this looks like a place must to see.

  • sireen

    It took me ages to find the 5 faces on the stone. Its just amazing how they made it. You have a great talent.

  • Ben

    Great website… Your photos are awesome! I have been surfing through your site and you have a great talent.. Can’t wait to discover new places through your artistic photographs.

  • Hammocks

    Angkor wat is really very good place to visit . You will really enjoy this .

  • jules

    I always enjoy coming to your site and look through your photographs. I get the experience although I have never been to those places. Great work.

    • Captain Photo

      Thank you form coming back and appreciating what I do. Cheers!

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