Siem Reap, which is the gateway to the Angkor temples, is a charming destination. You can plan your vacation days to know which sites to see and which activities to do so you can maximize your stay. And if you plan to visit its ancient ruins in the days to come, try to explore the town and its nearby localities on your first day in Cambodia. You won't be disappointed as the city is filled with remarkable places. Just take example of the Angkor National Museum.
Learn about Khmer history, culture and heritage at the Angkor National Museum
It would be advantageous for you to visit the Angkor National Museum before seeing Siem Reap's temples and ruins. So try to visit all of the galleries, as this will help you identify which structure is which, and what specific symbols represent each one. Through its chronologically sequenced exhibition halls, you'll also be introduced to the ancient Khmer Empire, and be acquainted with the past civilization depicted through Angkorian-era artifacts and multi-media presentations.
NOTE: When you visit the museum, make sure that you start on the second floor. After your ticket-check, head to the Briefing Hall where an audio-visual presentation awaits you. The AVP will show you what's in store for you in the galleries. The exhibition halls are connected, so you'll easily find the next one.
Gallery of Cambodian Buddhism Reflections
You'll find evident in the second gallery (the Gallery of Cambodian Buddhism Reflections) the Khmer people's spiritual connection to Buddhism. Here, you will also see a display of around 1,000 Buddha images in different forms and makes. You can even follow Buddha's stories by looking further into the many postures and gestures represented by the statues.
Gallery A: Khmer Civilization
History Buffs will find Gallery A as an exceptional place in the museum. It exhibits pieces of Khmer Civilization that will introduce you to stories about the ancient kingdoms (from the pre-Angkorian, Angkorian, and post-Angkorian period).
Gallery B: Religion and Beliefs
Out of all the exhibits, Gallery B's Religion and Beliefs was my favorite. It displayed the fascinating folktales and mythologies that helped shape and motivate the Angkor civilization throughout the ages.
Out of all the folktales, I was drawn more with Ganesh - the God with an elephant head and a human body. Make sure to read about his brutal yet interesting creation story when you visit the museum.
Gallery C: The Great Khmer Kings
Did you know that the Khmer Empire is one of the world’s greatest civilizations on earth? We only learned about it during our visit to Gallery C's The Great Khmer Kings. It was surreal being surrounded by precious artifacts while learning about four distinguished kings who were honored as the Great Inventors - the same great leaders who made the kingdom flourish.
We ended our tour on the second floor by visiting the gallery of Batik paintings. Here, we learned about the process of producing a Batik creation on fabric, which is composed of only six simple steps.
Siem Reap's main temples in small-scale models and more!
End your museum tour by visiting the last gallery on the first floor. Here, you will find Siem Reap's main temples depicted in small-scale models (Eg. Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom), as well as an impressive display of ancient Khmer costumes.
TIP: The Angkor National Museum is open from 8:30 AM to 6 PM (from 1 April to 30 September) and 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM (from 1 October and 31 March). There is an entrance fee of US$ 12 for foreigners.
NOTE: Make sure that you leave your bags at the Deposit Box Counter, especially your camera/s because taking pictures inside the museum is not allowed. Just bring a small purse or pouch where you can put your personal belongings.
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