Featuring some of the largest and most striking structures in the whole of the Angkor Archaeological Park, Eastern Angkor is a popular place to explore on foot, as most of the main temples and monuments here are located within easy walking distance of each other.
Visitors should allow at least five hours to explore this fascinating area, while those who really want to take their time appreciating each of the buildings in turn can easily spend an entire day absorbing the many marvels of Eastern Angkor.
Exploring Eastern Angkor
Ta Phrom is one of the most famous temples in Eastern Angkor and the temple’s unique position and design has been capturing the imaginations and hearts of visitors for many years.
Built in the 12th century, Ta Phrom was once the centrepiece of the ancient city of Angkor and served as a working monastery. Visitors follow a path leading through the jungle to reach Ta Phrom, and this gently crumbling temple has become intertwined with a number of trees over the years, which push their way through the brickwork.
Just a short walk away is the sandstone structure of Ta Keo, which is dedicated to the god Shiva. This is one of the biggest temples in the whole of the Angkor Archaeological Park as was constructed during the 10th century. However, the temple is missing much of the detailed carvings and statues that adorn most of the area’s other buildings, and many historians speculate that Ta Keo was actually abandoned before it was completed.
Ta Keo consists of five towers, which represent the five peaks of the Hindu heaven of Mount Meru. A set of steep stone steps leads up the southern side of Ta Keo, and can be climbed by visitors who want to take a closer look at this gigantic temple.
The East Baray is connected to Ta Keo by a long causeway and strolling along the causeway is an uplifting experience. This colossal man-made lake is now dry by was one of the area’s most aesthetic features during the reign of King Yasovarman I. measuring 1.7 by 7.8kms, the East Baray contains the pretty temple known as East Mebon in its centre, which is another representation of Mount Meru.
Visitors who make their way to the southern end of the East Baray will soon come to the 10th century temple of Pre Rup, which was commissioned by King Rajendraman II in tribute to Shiva.
This impressive temple complex is believed to have served as a small city and there are numerous towers and chambers for visitors to explore, many of which are decorated with the images of the unique and alluring dancing girls known as apsaras. Pre Rup has been constructed largely from golden sandstone, which has been carved with wide range of images such as plants and animals as well as Hindu deities.
Also nearby is the temple of Banteay Kdei. Meaning ‘the citadel of the monks’ in the local dialect, the original purpose of this temple remains a mystery and has baffled historians for many years. However, it is certain that this pretty structure was significant in its time as evidence suggests that it grew in prominence to a central temple with its own enclosure wall during Angkor’s heyday.
Last but certainly not least, the temple of Banteay Samre is located just to the east of the East Baray has been built in the same style as Angkor Wat. Featuring an interior moat and several tall towers, the walls of Banteay Samre have been engraved with images of crocodiles, fish and a range of mythical creatures.
Banteay Samre and the other temples of Angkor are located just a short drive from the small city of Siem Reap. More on Siem Reap.