Start at jungle-clad Ta Prohm. This temple was a monastery built by Jayavarman VII as a residence for his mother. Ta Prohm has been controversially left to the destructive power of the jungle by French archaeologists to demonstrate the awesome power of nature. It has been largely consumed by the jungle and as you climb through the dilapidated stone structures you see many giant trees growing out of the top of the temple itself.
We head north to visit the elegant temple of Banteay Srei built by a Brahman in the 10th Century, this temple was dedicated to Shiva. The famous pink sandstone structure bears a series of beautiful sculptures, lintels, pediments and friezes. It is said they must have been carved by women as the detail is too fine for the hands of a man. This gives us the origin of the Khmer name, Fortress of the Women. (It may take approx. 40 minutes’ drive).
We can also make a detour to view Banteay Samre, a splendid temple built by Suryavarman 11. The style of the towers and balustrades bear strong resemblance to those at Angkor Wat, and even more so to the temples of Phimai in Thailand. Many of its carvings are in excellent condition. Due to the location, we prepare lunch at Bongthom Homestay local lunch. (not picnic lunch).
Either you return to hotel to break the journey and enjoy at the pool (30 minutes drive from Banteay Srey to Hotel), or you can continue visiting more temples. If your return to Siem Reap, we can stop at Land Mine Museum for a quick look. (if open).
In the afternoon, we start to visit with the sites of Angkor Thom. This Royal city was first built under the reign of Udayadityavarman II in the 11th Century. It was destroyed when the Chams from Vietnam rose up against the Khmers and invaded, sacking the city, and was subsequently renovated by King Jayavarman VII at the end of the 12th Century. Its vast walls, some 6m wide, 8m high and 13km in length contain many monuments. Continue to visit Victory Gate, the Bayon, this temple mountain, built by Jayavarman VII, is situated in the center of the city of Angkor Thom. It is a three-tiered pyramid with its entrance facing east. The central shrine is surrounded by 54 towers all crowned by gigantic faces, representing Avalokite-shvara but with the features of Jayavarman VII. Later, we return back to your hotel.