Located in remote, northwestern Cambodia, the ancient Angkor Wat temples have been a wonder from afar for many who had neither the time nor money to pay a visit. Now, a tour is just a free click away, thanks to Google Street View.
The company announced the launch of its new ground level view of the complex Thursday in Siem Reap province, where the temples are located.
Senior Google staffer Divon Lan Thursday said the service was the product of more than a year of work.
"It has significance beyond Cambodia. This is a very important part of history of the world. The site is the biggest religious site in the world. It's the biggest Hindu temple in the world, so for the billions of people who believe in Hinduism in the world, this is very important for them. So this is a very important heritage site in the global scale. This is a part of the world of information that we want to bring to everyone in the world," said Lan.
Google Street View users can now visit 100 temples and sculptures around Angkor Wat, via a 360-degree perspective. The new initiative adds to existing virtual tours of the Taj Mahal in India and Mt. Fuji in Japan.
Bun Narith, director general of the Apsara Authority, which administers Angkor Wat on behalf of the government, said he hopes the project will help attract even more tourists to the temples.
"We hope that when people see these temples online, some of them would be interested and want to see the temples in person, so with this project we expect more tourists to come," said Narith.
Cambodia welcomed 4.2 million tourists last year, many of whom visited Angkor Wat.