PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The main road alongside Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple is now off-limits to cars as authorities seek to ease traffic jams at the site that draws 2.1 million tourists a year.
“From now on, only tourists walking by foot or riding bicycles are allowed to travel on the road in front of Angkor Wat temple,”’ Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a Facebook post May 3 that announced the measure.
The new rule applies to a 985-foot stretch of road in front of Angkor Wat. Cars and tourist vans are still permitted on other roads in the Angkor Archeological Park, a 160-square mile complex with dozens of ancient temples.
Long Kosal, spokesman of the Apsara Authority, a government agency that oversees the Angkor complex, said a new parking area has been built near the main temple.
He said the volume of traffic near the temple has increased so dramatically in recent years it raised concerns that vibrations caused by the vehicles could harm the temples, built between the 9th and 15th centuries.
Angkor Wat, the country’s biggest tourist attraction, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a symbol of national pride that is emblazoned on the Cambodian flag.