Upper Floors of Bayon Temple in Angkor Off-Limits for Tourists

Angkor, Apsara Authorities, Siem Reap, Cambodia

giant faces prasat bayon temple angkor thom Cambodia. Photo :Pushish Donhongsa

Continuous flows of tourists to Angkor is taking its toll on some of the more fragile structures inside the Angkor Archeological Park. Apsara Authorities announced the closure of the third floor of the famed Bayon temple to the public to consolidate the structure. 

Since the 1st of January 2020, Apsara Authority has temporarily prohibited visits to the third floor of the central tower at Bayon temple which will undergo repairs. The decision was taken following the ICC-Angkor (International Coordination Committee for Angkor) meeting last December under the experts’ recommendations. Faced with a massive flow of visitors and the weariness of the stones, the APSARA Authority managing the Angkor site decided that the Bayon Temple will be off-limits to visitors until further notice.

Funding the restoration is provided by the Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor (JSA) which will also conduct studies concerning the stability of the 54 towers carved with 216  stone faces and the main sanctuary. It will also conduct research for the security of the visitors. Following the detailed study of the structure, authorities will decide if the site is being properly protected and safeguarded from the effects of mass-tourism. The upper level was off-limits in 2019. Visitors can still admire the bas-reliefs and sculptures at ground level and on the first and second terraces for the time being.

“The International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor has recommended the closure of the third floor of the Bayon temple to allow experts to study the damages and identify at-risk areas which require repairs,” the announcement noted.

Long Kosal, a spokesman for Apsara Authority, yesterday said that the closure was temporary. “ We do not know how long the repairs will take,” he noted. “We will reopen the floor to visitors when they are completed.” The restoration work can take up to several years.

Last year, Apsara Authority banned vehicles from entering the Ta Prohm temple through its east gate which is also undergoing repairs. The measure is also considered as temporary until the restoration of the structure is completed.

To compensate the restrictions surrounding the visit of Bayon Temple, authorities are now allowing the access to Beng Mealea Temple. The latter is now included and incorporated into the Angkor Archaeological Pass and Angkor Pass can also be purchased at Beng Mealea Checkpoint as well.