LOCATED in the heart of balmy Southeast Asia is Cambodia, a country which boasts a landscape of low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta, rolling mountains, and the Gulf of Thailand coastline.
And despite its long and painful history, Cambodia remains a magical and charming kingdom which so much to offer, from the best of lush nature to awe-inspiring temples. In fact, Cambodia’s most highly visited landmark is none other than Angkor Wat.
The famed Unesco World Heritage-listed Angkor Wat, which means “City/Capital of Temples”, is a temple complex in Cambodia. At the size of 402 acres, it is also one of the largest religious monuments in the world and certainly one of the most Instagrammable ones.
Originally, it was constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire but gradually, Angkor Wat transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century.
The ancient temple is often admired for the grandeur and harmony of its high classical style of Khmer architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and the numerous devatas adorning its walls. At the center of the site is a quincunx of towers which often make it to visitors’ social media feeds.
According to the Khmer Times, the park generated US$116.6 million in ticket sales with some 2.5 million foreign tourists visiting last year.
But while it has become the country’s pride and joy, and a prime attraction for travelers with immense popularity that is undoubtedly astounding, Cambodia is putting its foot down and asking visitors to stop bringing in outside food in an effort to limit littering at the site.
Due to the fact that food remains and rubbish are often left behind by many of Angkor Wat’s few million annual visitors, a new rule is now in place to prohibit tourists from bringing in packaged food during sunrise or sunset visits to the temples.
Although no penalties will be enforced, Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal explained that people should not eat inside of near temples, which are sacred religious sites. “Of course, you can bring in the food but you have to find a suitable place to consume your food,” Kosal said.
Apsara Authority was counting on tourists and tour providers to be aware of park rules and respect religious and cultural customs, Kosal added.
Siem Reap provincial environment department director Nuon Mony told the Khmer Times that the new ban would help keep the park pristine. “Leftover food and discarded packages litter the temple complex,” Mony said. “The authority is taking action as part of efforts to protect the environment at the Angkor complex.”