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The Temple of Bayon

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Bayon temple

The Temple of Bayon is a unique and fascinating temple located in the heart of Angkor Thom, the ancient capital city of the Khmer Empire in Cambodia. It is known for its stunning architecture, intricate carvings, and the many faces that adorn its towers. In this article, we will lead you to learn more details about the Temple of Bayon, and provide you with useful travel tips.

Basic facts about the Temple of Bayon

King Jayavarma VII

1. The Temple of Bayon was built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII.
2. It is located in the center of Angkor Thom, the ancient capital city of the Khmer Empire.
3. The temple is made of sandstone, and features intricate carvings and bas-reliefs.
4. The temple is known for its 216 giant stone faces that are carved into the towers. The faces are believed to represent Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.
5. The temple has 54 towers, each with four faces, for a total of 216 faces.

History behind Temple of Bayon

Details on the smiling stones

Here's a brief timeline of the history of the Temple of Bayon:

1. Late 12th century: King Jayavarman VII begins construction of the Bayon temple as part of the new Angkor Thom capital city.
2. Early 13th century: Bayon is completed and becomes the official state temple of King Jayavarman VII.
3. Late 13th century: After the death of Jayavarman VII, the Bayon temple is modified by subsequent kings.
4. Late 14th century: The Khmer Empire is weakened by internal strife and external pressures, leading to the abandonment of the Bayon and other temples in the region.
5. 16th century: Bayon is rediscovered by Portuguese explorer Diogo do Couto, who describes it as one of the finest temples in the region.
6. 19th century: French explorers and archaeologists begin studying and restoring the Bayon temple.
7. 20th century: The Bayon temple becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a popular tourist destination.

Cultural significance of the Temple of Bayon

Khmer art books

The Temple of Bayon has had a significant influence on Cambodian art and culture. The temple's unique architectural style, which features large, smiling stone faces, has become an iconic representation of Angkor and Khmer art. The temple's art and carvings depict scenes from daily life and mythological stories, offering valuable insights into Khmer culture and beliefs.

Additionally, the temple's construction marked a shift in Khmer art from the earlier Hindu-influenced style to a more Buddhist-influenced style. This shift in style was significant in the development of Khmer art and architecture, as it reflected the growing influence of Buddhism in Khmer society.

The temple's cultural significance has also been recognized through its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its preservation and restoration have been ongoing efforts, and it continues to attract visitors from all over the world, contributing to the promotion and preservation of Cambodian culture.

How to tour the Temple of Bayon

Take a meditation in the Temple of Bayon

There are lots of things to do in Siem Reap. Visiting temples is the most popular way to learn Cambodian culture and history. When touring the Temple of Bayon, it's important to have a plan in place so you can make the most of your time there. Here are some tips for how to tour the temple:

1. Start your tour early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the heat of the day.
2. Before entering the temple, take some time to appreciate the surrounding area, including the moat and the various gates.
3. As you enter the temple, make your way to the central tower, which is the most iconic and recognizable feature of the temple.
4. Spend some time exploring the bas-reliefs on the walls of the temple, which depict scenes from daily life in ancient Cambodia, as well as mythological stories.
5. As you explore the temple, be sure to look up at the various towers and spires, as they are decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures.
6. Take some time to explore the various galleries and passageways of the temple, which are filled with hidden alcoves and small shrines.
7. After you've explored the main temple complex, consider taking a walk around the outer walls to appreciate the various smaller temples and structures that make up the larger Bayon temple complex.
8. A suggested duration for a visit to the Temple of Bayon is 2-3 hours, although this can vary depending on how much time you want to spend exploring and taking in the surroundings.

How to get to Temple of Bayon

Cycling through the Angkor Temples

The Temple of Bayon is located within the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia. There are several ways to get to the temple:

1. By tuk-tuk: Tuk-tuks are a popular mode of transportation in Cambodia, and you can hire one to take you to the temple. Tuk-tuks are usually available for hire near the entrance to the Angkor Archaeological Park.
2. By bicycle: Renting a bicycle is a popular way to explore the temples in Angkor, including the Temple of Bayon. Many hotels and guesthouses in Siem Reap offer bicycle rentals.
3. By car: If you prefer to travel in comfort, you can hire a car with a driver to take you to the temple. Many hotels in Siem Reap offer this service, or you can arrange it through a local travel agency.
4. By foot: If you are staying in Siem Reap, you can walk to the temple. However, it is a long walk, so be prepared for a bit of a trek.

Regardless of how you choose to get there, it is recommended to plan your visit during the cooler parts of the day, either early morning or late afternoon, to avoid the heat of midday.

Related itineraries recommended:

6 Days Angkor Discovery Tour

10 Days Best of Cambodia Tour

15 Days Exploration Tour of Cambodia

Visiting tips

Choose comfortable clothes for your trip

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when visiting the Temple of Bayon:

1. Stay hydrated: Cambodia can be very hot and humid, so it's important to drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
2. Wear comfortable and appropriate clothing: Wear light, breathable clothing that covers your shoulders and knees to show respect for the local culture and protect yourself from the sun. Also, wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking on uneven surfaces.
3. Be aware of pickpockets: Like any other popular tourist destinations in Cambodia, there may be pickpockets around. Keep an eye on your belongings and avoid carrying large sums of cash or expensive items with you.
4. Follow safety signs: Pay attention to safety signs and warnings to avoid accidents. Some areas of the temple may be under restoration or unstable, so avoid climbing on any areas that are off-limits.


By following these tips and being respectful of the temple and its surroundings, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience at the Temple of Bayon. We welcome you to come and explore the wonders of this incredible site. We will always be here for you to tailor your Cambodia tour!

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