As of today, tourists will once again be able to enjoy the view from the very top level of Angkor Wat. The top tier, called the Bakan, has been closed for restoration since October 2007 and restoration work was undertaken by Khmer, German and Italian teams.
On December 31, Apsara issued a letter to various institutions, tour operators and tour guide associations saying that the Bakan will be opened but only temporarily. No dates have been given for when it will be closed again, or when it might be opened permanently.
Tough restrictions have also been imposed. Visitors must be in good health, wear “proper” clothes and be over 12 years old. They must register in order to visit, and just 100 people will be allowed at the top at any one time and only for 30-minute periods. The Bakan will also be closed for every Buddhist holiday.
Samut Ret, a tourist guide in Siem Reap since 1989, said he used to bring visitors to the Bakan before the closure. “The Bakan is considered a sacred place and it’s at the very top,” he said. “Tourists are always interested in visiting the Bakan, because it was considered heaven for the gods.”
He said the closure of the Bakan upset many tourists. “When they visit Angkor Wat, they all want to go to the top level and they get frustrated when they can’t,” he said.