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Angkor Wat

"Wearing revealing clothes disrespects the temple’s sanctity. We will not allow [tourists] to buy a temple pass if they wear revealing clothes."

Tourists who are dressed inappropriately will be denied access to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex from next month, the park’s governing body has announced. Travellers with uncovered knees or shoulders will be asked to cover up before entering the site, after last year’s spate of nude photography at temples caused outrage across the country.

Apsara Authority, which manages the Angkor Wat site, will enforce the new regulations from August 4. “Wearing revealing clothes disrespects the temple’s sanctity,” said Apsara spokesman Long Kosal. “We will not allow [tourists] to buy a temple pass if they wear revealing clothes. Our officials will inform them what they should wear to be able to visit our ancient temples, so they can come back to buy a ticket later after they change their clothes.”

Angkor Wat was the capital of the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th centuries, and remains an active spiritual and pilgrimage site for Buddhists.

The authority has illustrated its point by issuing photographs of unsuitable clothing on its website. The authority has illustrated its point by issuing photographs of unsuitable clothing on its website

Park authorities consider inappropriate clothing to be anything “too short – so they reveal buttocks – or not wearing bras, or T-shirts that show the back and upper body,” added Kosal. The authority has illustrated its point by issuing photographs of unsuitable clothing on its website – purportedly depicting scantily-clad tourists who have visited in the past.

“Any act of looting, breaking or damaging Angkor, or exposing sexual organs and nudity in public areas is a crime punishable by law,” states a poster produced as part of the new campaign.

In January last year, a Chinese model enraged local people by posing topless amid the Unesco-listed ruins, and three French men were arrested for posing naked at Banteay Kdei temple, one of the site’s main draws. Two American sisters were also arrested for “taking naked photographs of their bottoms” in February 2015.

In response to the incidents, Apsara issued a code of conduct for visitors, warning them not to touch or climb on the ruins, give money to begging children, or take selfies with the local monks. A video was issued alongside the guidelines, depicting an ancient Khmer king shaking his head at the unruly antics of international visitors.

While many of Cambodia’s world-famous temple complexes have behaviour guidelines, Angkor Wat is the first to ban inappropriately-dressed tourists from entering. “Temples at other places are the responsibility of local authorities,” said Kosal.

“We call for all to respect shrines when they visit, but the Apsara’s announcement mainly focuses on the Angkor temples."