The period between the 9th and the 13th centuries was the golden age of the Khmer Empire, and a succession of kings made use of their vast wealth and the labor of slaves to execute a monumental building program. During this time, Khmer architecture developed and evolved to reflect the change from the worship of the Hindu god Shiva, to Vishnu, and then to a form of Mahayana Buddhism. A huge and sophisticated system of irrigation canals increased and solidified the strength of the Empire. In 1431 Thai armies from the west captured Angkor, and the Khmer court abandoned the city. Theravada Buddhist monks took over the city and for many years, it was an important pilgrimage point.
One of the world's great architectural achievements, Angkor has tantalized Western travelers since 1858 when Henri Mouhot, a French naturalist, stumbled upon it in the jungle, and it became the 'lost city' of Asia. In recent years, it was 'lost' again, but now the city in all its glory can be seen.
A small country of 11 million people that adjoins Thailand's eastern border, Cambodia is beginning to attract tourists primarily to see the magnificent ancient Khmer city at Angor, filled with the temples and palaces built between the 9th and 13th centuries.
The most visited structures in this World Heritage Site are Angor Wat, the largest religious monument ever built, the Bayon with its giant faces, the walled city of Angor Thom, Ta Phrom and many other fascinating monuments.
The reason why most people come to Cambodia is to see Angkor Wat - one of the seven wonders of the world. In and around Siem Reap are over 30 temples, but the most important are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple and the Banteay Srey Temples. You should allow at least 2 full days in Siem Reap, so you can have time to see all of the important temples.
Others popular destinations for tourists include the capital Phnom Penh and the quiet beach resort of Sihanouville. Flight from Bangkok direct to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap for Angor. The system of visas on arrival makes it easy for travelers enter the country.