Thursday, 3rd September 2015
What makes a place the ultimate travel site?
There are numerous bucket lists to be found across the internet and in publications, helping to advise people on where to travel next. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish which ones are the authority, but Lonely Planet has gone some way to try and provide an answer to which sites really are worth visiting.
It recently published its Ultimate Travelist, which has been agonised over by many experts to provide a definitive top 500 sites to see before you die. Being included on the list is quite an accolade, making it into the top ten, even more so, but what about the place that scored the number one spot?
The temples at Angkor in Cambodia have long been hailed as an amazing feat of engineering and beauty, but now they are recognised as the best place to visit in the entire world. The complex of buildings located not far from Siem Reap has a lot to recommend it, from its sheer size to the fact it appears to be emerging out of the jungle and in some cases as roots make their way around the stones, being reclaimed by the vegetation.
The winning combination
Southeast Asia is famous for its temples, but none are quite as impressive in terms of scale as Angkor. The site boasts more than 1,000 places of worship, shrines and tombs, which come together to form a formidable whole. Highlights including Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and the Bayon - the famous face temple, could all score highly on their own, but are all part of the one site.
While some of the world's other incredible sites comprise of one building or feature, Angkor is so large it allows visitors to have personal experiences within its walls. No matter how busy a day it is at the famous site, there is always the opportunity to step away from the crowds and find a quiet, yet still spectacular, spot.
The jungle surrounding the temples helps to fire the imagination and provides a stark contrast to the civilisation that was created at Angkor and has stood the test of time. Putting the temples in this context imbues them with an extra dimension and portrays the feeling that they have been discovered in an untamed wilderness. The ruins of Ta Prohm have almost been entirely consumed by the vegetation, adding to this sense of a battle between humans and nature.
Angkor is unusual in the region in that it comes from the Hindu tradition, which in recent centuries has been overtaken by Buddhist as the dominant religion. It was created to honour Vishnu and features intricate carvings of the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas.