The Angkor Wat temple complex is beautiful to behold and quite large. It is in fact the largest religious monument in the world. This place wasn’t just built for worship but also as a city and palace for the Khmer empire. What is especially interesting about this area is that there isn’t just Angkor Wat but also several other wats. Angkor Wat literally means “City of Temples” and that is exactly what you will find here. We found it helpful to have a tuk tuk driver guide us around between each site and pretty cheap too, though you could rent a scooter and get around on your own pretty easily.
The scale and significance of Angkor Wat leaves us with no doubt that it should be a Wonder in Civilization, however the in game bonus doesn’t really seem appropriate. I mean, a 25% reduction in tile expansion costs, come on. Even Civ’s own wiki page mentions that the bonus is “not so game changing”. The Angkor comlex is the largest religious monument in the world still to this day and for a period of time it was the most populous city in the world. But did it help the Khmer people who built it rapidly expand their influence? Maybe a bit just as any center of governance and religion would, but it wasn’t lasting. Cambodia is not a large or wealthy nation and the Khmer empire did not last long. You can’t play as the Khmer in Civilization so it seems that even in the game creators’ eyes their influence wasn’t that great.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually love the wonder bonus and always try to build Ankgor Wat when I play. It just feels like the designers thought of a cool game benefit and then didn’t have anything to attach it to so they slapped it onto Angkor Wat. A good little extra benefit could have been a defense bonus, since it is practically a fortress with a massive moat and series of walls. Or perhaps a bonus for jungle tiles since the complex is a city rising out of the jungle. I think Civ missed an opportunity with the Gods & Kings expansion here. It would make sense to add a Faith bonus to the wonder benefits since it is a temple complex after all. Or with the Brave New Worlds expansion a massive tourism bonus would be appropriate. Angkor Wat is visited by almost every tourist to Cambodia.
But whether or not the game benefits are exactly fitting to Angkor Wat is ultimately of little concern. The site is truly amazing and we suggest waking up early to watch the sun rise. Just keep in mind that everyone else will have the same idea so there is quite a crowd at sunrise. Also, you will get to explore the complex before the heat of the day really kicks into high gear.