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Angkor National Museum

Angkor National Museum

Updated: 2017-07-23 12:59:46

What you will expect

Visiting the Angkor National Museum was an eerie, surreal experience. For the first 45 minutes of our trip through the mammoth, 20,000-square-metre building, we didn't spot another visitor. The museum opened in November 2007, and its freshly painted, shopping mall-like feel contrasts with the thousands-year-old artefacts contained within it. A visit is a comfortable, air-con alternative to visiting the temples themselves, and a nice educational supplement to the history of Angkor if you visit the park without a tour guide. It's composed of eight separate galleries, all connected by a vaulted corridor with a series of fountains and lined with what seems like all the Angkorian limestone lion and demon heads missing from statues at the temples. After an explanatory film screening called Story behind the legend, you're pointed toward the galleries:

The only museum of Khmer sculpture in Siem Reap, the privately owned Angkor National Museum’s collection is faulted by experts for being shallow compared with the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Be that as it may, the presentation is smart, hi-tech and informative. A worthwhile if expensive stop for those seeking some deeper Angkor context.
The Angkor National Museum has been attracting lots of attention - much of it negative - since its opening in 2007. Recent tensions between Thailand and Cambodia over the temples at Preah Vihear can only further complicate matters for the privately held Thai owned museum.  

But as travellers are thus far afforded no meaningful information during a visit to the temples, the Angkor National Museum plays a useful role in telling some of the story of Angkor.

The Museum’s problems probably start with its name. Visitors might reasonably assume a “national museum” to be state operated and sanctioned by the leading scholars in the field. Not so here. Then there’s the shopping mall style building that houses it - a grim portent of what lies ahead as the shopping component of the project continues to unfold.

And the collection itself has been faulted for being visually pleasing without having many pieces of genuine Angkorian significance. A good many of the Buddhas on display in the spectacular Gallery of 1000 Buddhas are said to be from the 20th century.

Yet for all the criticism, the museum does play a very worthwhile educational role. The presentation is excellent and it’s is the only place in Cambodia offering visitors some essential understanding of the history and culture that created the remarkable temples.

Exhibits include illuminating accounts on the Khmer Empire, the major kings, Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. A gallery devoted to the costumes worn by the stone figures that adorn the temples is especially engaging.

Even if it is on the expensive side, those with a deep interest in Angkor will find the museum a worthwhile stop. Drop by during the heat of the Cambodian day for an air conditioned and informative museum interlude.

Price Detail

Exhibits include touch-screen video, epic commentary and the chance to experience a panoramic sunrise at Angkor Wat, though there seems to be less sculpture on display here than in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

  • US$37 buys admission to all the temples at Angkor. That said, it remains a very useful experience for first-time visitors, putting the story of Angkor and the Khmer empire in context before exploring the temples.
  • An audio tour is available for US$3.
  • Entrance Fee Ticket: US$12 - discounts for prior booking

What's Included

  • Entrance Fee Ticket

What's Not Included

  • Meals
  • Drink
  • Other personal expense

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