While the list of Siem Reap temples exceeds one hundred, Angkor Wat is still the temple that springs to mind when travellers talk about temples in Cambodia.
Its majestic towers rising towards the heavens and its sunrise images make the temple of Angkor Wat the most well-known temple in Siem Reap, if not the world. After all, it is the largest religious site on the planet!
Many travellers don’t talk with the same excitement about seeing the other formidable ancient Khmer temples in Siem Reap that, in my opinion, give Angkor Wat a run for its money.
With this in mind, I am writing this post to highlight four equally magical Cambodian temples I visited during my 4-nights in Siem Reap.
Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.
Four Top Temples in Siem Reap You Must See
Bayon Temple – Siem Reap’s smiling face temple
I’m starting with my favourite temple in Siem Reap. It is Bayon, the smiling face temple that is a show-stopper and, for me, the best temple in Siem Reap.
Approaching it from the road, you sense you are being watched, and you are. Two hundred stone faces look down upon you as you enter their temple.
No one is sure who the faces depict. It may be the face of King Jayavarman VII, who built Bayon deep in the Angkor jungle. Or the charismatic face is of Lokesvara, the Buddhist God of compassion. Whoever the faces represent, they are completely mesmerising.
Inside Bayon temple, you can wander through narrow passageways, take a pew on the ruins and take in your surroundings, or climb the rickety wooden ladders that take you higher and nearer to the stone faces.
You do not want to miss visiting Bayon on a trip to Siem Reap; it is a stunning example of Khmer architecture and a place that will stay in your mind for a very long time.
Learn more about Bayon in my post: Visit Bayon – the Smiling Face Temple in Cambodia.
Ta Prohm – The tree root temple in Siem Reap
Hold on to your hats; Angelina Jolie is in town. Well, maybe not on my visit, but the filming of Tomb Raider in the Ta Prohm complex put this temple firmly on the tourist map, and for a good reason.
Known as the tree root temple to many, Ta Prohm is everything you could imagine a jungle temple to be. Strangler fig roots have engulfed the sacred site of Ta Prohm and entwined themselves around anything in their pathway.
Tree roots the size of a house cling to the temple ruins as if unwilling to let them go, making this one of the most incredible Siem Reap temples to visit.
Wander through passageways and climb over fallen chunks of stone as you explore this mystical Cambodian temple. Listen carefully, and you might hear the howler monkeys in the distant trees that add to an already incredible jungle experience.
Learn more about Ta Prohm in my post: Visit Ta Prohm – the Tree Root Temple in Cambodia.
Preah Khan – Angkor’s Sacred Sword temple
Lesser known than the previous two temples, Preah Khan is an equally stunning temple complex in Siem Reap.
Called the Sacred Sword temple after King Jayavarman VII fought a bloody battle here and won; folklore tells that Preah Khan was where the King’s ‘Holy Sword’ was kept.
Tree roots and vines engulf the existing standing structures, and a maze of collapsed towers, chambers, corridors and ceremonial spaces invite you to step back in time and explore their nooks and crannies.
One difference to Ta Prohm is that Preah Khan was once a city with 200,000 inhabitants, so it had many more functional buildings.
Miraculously a few centuries-old structures are still standing, and Preah Khan’s library is a fantastic example of how Khmer architecture has stood up to the ravages of the Cambodian jungle.
Learn more about Preah Khan in my post: Visit Preah Khan – the Sacred Sword Temple.
Ta Nei – A hidden gem in the Angkor jungle
Nestled deep in the jungle, Ta Nei is a hidden temple in Siem Reap, away from the main temples at Angkor.
Ta Nei couldn’t be further removed from the mighty Angkor Wat, but it is still one of the must-see temples in Angkor Archaeological Park.
It is smaller than other Siem Reap temples but has familiar tree roots and vines growing over its fallen ruins. It is also darker due to the dense jungle foliage that cloaks it and is more humid.
As we wandered around, we could only imagine how this jungle temple once looked. But for now, we feel blessed to have seen Ta Nei and been given a chance to experience this charming temple of Siem Reap without anyone else being there.
Learn more about Ta Nei in my post: Visit Ta Nei – the Hidden Jungle Temple.
We arranged to tour Angkor by ourselves using a tuk-tuk as our transport, and it worked out perfectly. Book a temple tour online if you want a guide to take you around.
I hope this post has inspired you to explore four of the best temples in Siem Reap for yourself.
Please Pin for Future Travel to Cambodia
Are you looking for further travel inspiration for Cambodia? Please check out the following posts:
The Very Best Travel Advice on How To See the Angkor Temples in Siem Reap
17 Best Things to Experience in Siem Reap Cambodia