At the center of the walled city of Angkor Thom sits Bayon, after Angkor Wat is the most famous of Angkor's monuments, with 216 giant smiling faces carved into the stone of its 54 gothic towers. Built as the state temple of Jayavarman VII in the late 12th to early 13th century, it certainly is one of the most mesmerising temples. Every face is a similar looking with it's eyes closed and smiling, and they are imposing from afar. Once in the temple they are visible virtually everywhere you look. The faces are of the Buddhist Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva (enlightened being) of Compassion. Avalokiteshvara vowed to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty to achieve a state of Nirvana. They are pleasantly imposing and the motive for this was to enforce a shift from Hinduism to Mahayana Buddhism. It's a - 'my eyes are closed but I can see you because I know everything' kind of look to achieve the goal. The face is also said to have an uncanny likeness to the king, who considered himself a 'god-king'. Well why be modest when you're a king? The 54 towers represent the 54 state provinces of the Khmer Empire of King Jayavarman VII. The temple also contains 1.2km of wonderful bas-reliefs depicting everyday 12th century life. This is temple top of the must see list! *TIP* - Bayon is busiest in the morning with all the tour groups going round and can feel just too hectic. It looks just as good in the afternoon. This is a truly amazing site so the main walkways are rarely quiet, however this is a big place and you are free to roam around all of it. If you leave the main gangways to wonder, you can find yourself in a courtyard to yourself like there was nobody else there, with the faces beaming down at you. Entry: Angkor Archaeological Pass required, see info section for more details. Open: 5:00am - 6:00pm.

Map of North West Cambodia

North West Cambodia-Map