Angkor Wat ‘most famous temple in Asia’: US website

Angkor Wat has emerged as “the most famous temple in Asia” as per the US-based website Touropia Travel Guides, which tourism players say will add to Cambodia’s allure and intrigue, and motivate more holidaymakers to experience the “Kingdom of Wonder”.

Following the crown jewel of Siem Reap province’s Angkor Archaeological Park, Indonesia’s Borobudur and Lebanon’s Baalbek ranked second and third, respectively.

Numbers four through seven were Harimandir Sahib or Golden Temple (India); Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion (Japan); Tiantan or Temple of Heaven (China); and Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Thailand).

And rounding out the top 10 were Paro Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest (Bhutan); Chaturmukha Dharana Vihara or Ranakpur Jain Temple (India); and Kamal Mandir or Lotus Temple (India).

Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan told The Post on December 14 that Touropia’s latest top 10 list would provide would-be tourists and the public some insight into the temples of Cambodia’s Angkor park.

He underlined that Angkor Wat is not only a World Heritage Site and one of the seven “wonders of the world”, but also embodies many of Cambodia’s historical tales and is a repository of scriptures, chronicles and instructions related to Buddhism and Brahmanism.

“On top of the announcement that Cambodia would reopen to vaccinated tourists, news of Touropia Travel Guides having ranked Angkor Wat temple first will encourage foreign travellers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 to visit the Kingdom,” Sinan claimed.

However, international tourist arrivals have yet to record a major hike in the immediate weeks following November 15’s announcement, he said, noting that solo and duo travellers are on the rise, but that larger groups are “almost non-existent”.

He predicted that group tourism would likely not see a sustained pick-up until March.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Ho Vandy said the ranking would be more or less influential for the industry, noting that renown travel and tourism businesses have also placed the Angkor temples towards the top of their lists.

This has meant more promotion, helping the Kingdom reap larger sums from its multi-million-dollar advertising campaign, he said.

“This will persuade international tourists to put Cambodia, especially Angkor Wat, on the list of places they want to visit,” he said, pointing out that the centuries-old temple is widely considered a masterpiece.

On June 24, US travel firm Tripadvisor Inc named a three-day discovery tour across Siem Reap province as the world’s number one luxury tour in the 2021 Travellers’ Choice “Best of the Best” Things to Do Awards.

The package includes a tour on the main circuit in Angkor park and beyond to Phnom Kulen National Park and its refreshing waterfalls, the famous floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake and the endearing Banteay Srei temple – or “citadel of the women”, according to the Tripadvisor website.

December 14 also marked the 29th anniversary of Angkor Archaeological Park’s inscription as a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

Established in 1925 and covering an area of 401sq km, the park was the Kingdom’s first nature reserve and Southeast Asia’s first national park, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Data from the Ministry of Tourism shows that from January-October 2021, Cambodia received a total of 144,433 foreign tourists, down 88 per cent year-on-year from 1,246,790.