Angkor is breathtaking even for the best-travelled people. When the population of London hardly reached 50,000, almost one million people lived in the capital of the Khmer Empire. The largest pre-industrial city in the world, Angkor was founded in the 9th century and abandoned in the first half of the 15th century under the pressure of the Siamese invaders. The jungle has consumed the wooden urban buildings, but the main cultural wealth of Angkor withstood the battle. About a hundred grand temples with a unique architecture, various statues and bas-reliefs can be seen today near the Thai border. You need two days to meet the Angkor attractions. The area of the Angkor Wat temple is larger than the area of the Vatican, and to catch a glimpse takes at least a couple of hours. A minimal trip includes 5-10 temples scattered over an area of 400 square meters. It sounds like a challenge for tough people, but there are not so many people walking through Angkor. In the next Siem Reap town, you can rent a bicycle or take a rickshaw.
Vijaya Nagara, India
The Vijaya Nagara city (Karnataka state) was abandoned a long time ago, and even its name has been forgotten for centuries — every tourist in Goa knows it as Hampi, by the name of the next village. But at the time Vijaya Nagara city was the capital of South India, and the capital scope has been still shown. Temples with skillful ornamental carving, huge statues of Hindu gods, elephant stalls, aqueducts and swimming pools, the royal palace, and a magnificent stone chariot, have survived and look like they will exist for a thousand years. Another attraction of Hampi is the scenery view. The mountains look like a boulder castle built on the bank of the river. Wake up early in the morning to get to the top and watch the sunrise. It’s an unbelievable scene!
There is a city with the same name in Thailand, but the ancient Sukhothai is 12 kilometers away from it, and now it’s a «dead city». The historical Sukhothai city as it is called to avoid confusion has been the capital of the same kingdom from the 13th to 15th centuries. The territory of modern Thailand was governed from there for more than a hundred years. Today you can see only its remains, and several temples have survived. The main attraction is a huge statue of the seated Buddha in the Wat Si Hut temple.
The Pagan Kingdom was relatively short-lived, from mid 11th to the end of the 13th century. But its cultural legacy is truly unique. On the territory of the Pagan city, there are no residential or administrative buildings, but it is not so important. Because the area of 40 square kilometers on the eastern shore of the Irrawaddy river is covered by numerous Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries. There are thousands of them, similar and different: active and abandoned, restored and rather dilapidated, decorated with gold and covered with grass. Unfortunately, for political reasons, UNESCO has not been able to protect Pagan, and it has not been included in the World Heritage List yet.