Ta Prohm in Angkor: Man Builds, Nature Takes Over

You may have seen this superstar temple in an Angelina Jolie blockbuster before. Ta Prohm was featured in ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’, and as a result is the most crowded out of all temples I visited.

After the fall of Khmer Empire in the 17th century, Ta Prohm was abandoned for centuries. When it was rediscovered, massive fig and silk-cotton trees have already taken over the temple, turning it into a perfect blend of mankind’s chef d’oeuvre and nature’s masterpiece.

Ta Prohm, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ta Prohm, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Book a trip to Ta Prohm and other Angkor temples here.

This former Buddhist temple has been intentionally left partially uncleared. Other than massive tree trunks, with a setup of fallen temple stones everywhere, you can imagine the eerie feeling as you explore through the ruins and dark corridors. This is hardcore temple adventure stuff, but you’ll find out why I bolded the word “imagine” soon.

Ta Prohm, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Unfortunately, just when you’re about to put your Indiana Jones cap on, hundreds of tourists flock pass you by and… uh… never mind!

Ta Prohm, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Good luck getting a clean shot in the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider site!

Ta Prohm makes me sad. It’s the textbook example of a great destination ruined by overtourism. And I’m not just talking about annoying tourists and photography nightmare. The problem of Ta Prohm (and Angkor as a whole) goes beyond that.

These temples are incredible monuments that have survived more than a century. It has survived through the long period of Cambodian war and turbulence. Even through the jungle’s overgrowth, it has survived nature’s fierce attempt to tear it asunder. It survived through all that, yet ironically man proves to be the biggest challenge.

Massive overtourism has sped up the decay; some beloved temples such as Bayon nearly collapsing. When I visited Banteay Srei, I feel irked when I see tourists pressing their hands all over the fine crafts, while disregarding the “Please Do Not Touch” sign right in front of their faces. We all want to see the world, but that doesn’t mean we have to be irresponsible tourists.

I just hope I’ll never have to change the title of this post into the following one day: Man builds, nature takes over, man destroys…

What do you feel about the overtourism problem that is plaguing the Angkorian temples? How was your experience visiting Ta Prohm?

Book a trip to Ta Prohm and other Angkor temples here.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. What beautiful pictures again! You have raised a lot of valid concerns about tourists visiting the temples in Cambodia and in general. I have seen it happening everywhere: people taking home coral found on beaches, touching and feeding animals and so on.

    And I, too, hope you don’t need to change the title of this post!


    1. Andrew Darwitan says:

      Agree with you. It’s a really sad thing what tourists are doing. It’s important for us to make sure what we see now will remain as beautiful as it is for our grandchildren to see, too.


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