Angkor Wat Temple

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Photo Credit: shutterstock, Olena Tur

It’s the biggest faith-based structure in the world—appropriately scaled for something meant to symbolize the Universe. 

Occupying a 208-hectare rectangle, surrounded by a 200-meter-wide moat and centered around five towers whose central spire rises some 55 meters above the ground, the massive temple complex of Angkor Wat inspires awe in anyone who sees it. 

It’s not just its size, it’s the intricate detail: galleries upon galleries of carved scenes from  Hindu mythology and depictions of the King and his entourage; over 3,000 dancing apsaras, or female deities; and statuary of the Hindu god Vishnu, to whom the temple is dedicated. The five towers are supposed to symbolize Mount Meru, the sacred mountain in the middle of the cosmos.

Angkor Wat was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The entire park is open year-round; most tourists visit arrive as soon as the temple opens at 5am to catch the sun rising over the towers and the reflecting pool.