After breakfast visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom (WHS), Bayon, the Royal enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. The Bayon (WHS) is considered the single most outstanding monument of Khmer culture and also the most mysterious. Constructed during the reign of King Jayavarman VII (1181 – 1201), this temple complex marks the exact center of Angkor Thom, making it the most venerated of the city’s temples. Early archeologists (beginning in the mid 19th century) debated the identity of the great faces ornamenting the central tower with many believing the temple to be a shrine dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, others to Bahamas, while later specialists concluded (through the assistance of ancient Chinese records) that this was a Mahayana Buddhist temple. The faces depicted however were not the Buddha, but rather the benevolent Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara.
The structure is staggering in its construction and most Angkor specialists agree that it is one of the finest examples of classical Khmer architecture. Its third level is stunning – 49 towers adorned with 172 smiling faces of the omnipresent Avalokitesvara. Sixteen chapels inside the structure indicate its religious importance while on the outer perimeter over 1,200 meters of exquisite bas-relief record scenes of daily life from 11th century Angkor.
Terrace of the Elephants (WHS), built by King Jayavarman VII, at the end of his reign, early 13th century. The terrace has three platforms of different heights, to which five flights of steps lead up; the northern one was probably built later than the others. The terrace takes its name from the outstanding depiction of elephants and of an elephant hunt, which takes up the major part of the frieze.
Terrace of the Leper-King, built by King Jayavarman VII at the end of his reign, early 13th century. There is no path connecting the two terraces. This one owes its name to a sculpture which used to stand here. It was of King Yasovarman, 899-910, who originally founded Angkor and was popularly known as the “Leper-King” because he died of leprosy.
In the late afternoon, embark on a boat trip to visit a floating village on the Tonlé Sap. The residents of the floating village literally reside on houses, which stay afloat on the river and the lake. An unusual characteristic of this river is that its water flow changes, depending on the season. As the rainy season sets in and with the water level rising, residents move their houses by boat closer to the shore. And during the dry season, when the water level goes down, they again move their houses, this time towards the center of the lake. Since their houses float, movement is not an inconvenience.
Tonle Sap is known to the natives as the ” Sea of the Fresh Water. “ The river links the Mekong River to the southern end of the Great Lake. The Great Lake was the lifeline of the Khmers as its pattern of movement provided the rhythm of daily life and served as a source of fish and rice to an agrarian society. B, Dinner with Apsara Dance Show at local restaurant. Angkor Palace Resort & Spa (4-star)