Ta Phrom is a incredibly beautiful temple overgrown with trees, and best known for being used in one of the Tomb Raider films. Unfortunately, because it’s one of the best known temples, the hawkers around the entrances to Ta Phrom are some of the worst in the park – there are lots of them and they are very persistent. Once you can get past them though, the temple itself is incredible to wander through.
Ta Phrom is one of the few temples in the Angkor Wat Park to have been left largely unrestored (although major restoration works are now underway). Built in the same style as Bayon around the late 12th and early 13th centuries, the structure was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. This limited restoration of the temple has resulted in a large number of the trees to remain within the temple complex which were previously cleared in other restored temples.
This temple was where I also felt most sad about tourism within Cambodia. Here was a priceless cultural artifact, over 800 years old and tour guides are encouraging tourists to scramble up on the stones to have their photos taken. People everywhere jumping onto the roots of trees and climbing all over the structures to have their photo taken at the ‘Tomb Raider’ temple. While I understand they probably think, ‘Hey I’m just one person’, the effect of so many individual tourists doing that over the years is going to damage the Angkor Wat structures. I can understand the urge to explore once you see these temples – they are amazing and do have that affect. It’s rather sad when you think that these structures are really one of a kind, religious temples or tombs and should be treated with a bit more respect.