Hiking and sightseeing with two small children, even at incredible temple ruins, is exhausting! By the time we visited Ta Prohm, it was mid-afternoon and we had been exploring all day. However, Ta Prohm is the Jungle temple and seeing how these trees have grown up and taken over the temple is mind-blowing. This was our family’s favorite temple of the trip, so be sure not to skip it!
The temples in the Angkor Thom area are set up so drivers drop off at one end of the temple and pick up on the other side. The drop off area at Ta Prohm seemed to be at least ¼ mile from the temple along a dirt path through the jungle. Although it was a little tricky to convince Landon to walk that whole way, it certainly set the scene! As we approached the temple, we immediately noticed the large trees that seemed to be growing out of the top of it. As we got closer, we could see where the trunks, branches, and roots knocked down the man-made walls like they were children’s blocks. After the magnificent ruins we had seen all day, it was interesting to see the power of man vs. the power of nature right in front of our eyes.
Ta Prohm was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries as a Buddhist monastery. While other temples in the Angkor complex have been restored over the years, Ta Prohm has been kept in basically the same condition as it was found when it was uncovered in the early 1900s. Work has been done to stabilize the stone blocks and make them safe for visitors, but other than that, the jungle has been allowed to take over. The trees around this temple were incredible!
One sight that will always stay with me was a large root which ran directly under a wall of bricks and toppled them this way and that. We decided to explore around the sides of the temple and the outer wall where the trees have really taken over, and then venture inside and make our way back to the front. There were some flooded parts of the interior courtyards of the temple due to the rain, but there was very little roped off from the public. We walked through whole courtyards of toppled bricks and admired the huge jungle trees that had taken over. We made sure to explore as much as we could of this temple and soak in the wildness, beauty and history.
Again with this temple, there were remnants of paint on the walls, and it was easier in some sections to imagine the grandeur of these buildings during the height of the empire back in the day. We were also very impressed with the tree root support systems installed under some of the trees.
Commencing our tour by walking around the exterior walls of the temple afforded us plenty of quiet time and private photo ops with the trees. When we ventured into the temple proper, we were met with hordes of tour groups. All of them were lined up, waiting to get the picture with the iconic jungle trees. Since we had already taken quite a few photos outside, we skipped the crowd, snapped a pic with the tour group in the background, and continued on. The boys were getting tired, hot, thirsty and hungry.
The temples of Angkor Thom were just as, if not more impressive than Angkor Wat. We especially enjoyed Ta Prohm, or the jungle temple. Again, don’t bother with a stroller at the ruins, wear small children instead. Hire a car or tuk-tuk for the day to maximize time and conserve energy for hiking the actual ruins. There are even less facilities and food options available at these temples, so bring snacks and water! Insect repellent is a must in Cambodia. Your bigger kids will love discovering and exploring these amazing buildings!