Eerilly overgrown Ta Prohm in Cambodia is now known as the Tomb Raider Temple. Angelina Jolie's sweaty black leotard has a lot to answer for...

'Tomb Raider Tree' where Lara Croft picked a jasmine flower and fell through the earth back to Pinewood Studios. Photo My Bathroom Wall

The temple of Ta Prohm has that perfect 'lost' temple look. It's a surreal place, with trees and vegetation growing in and around its semi ruined stone corridors and courtyard. In places the tree roots seem to have the temple smothered in an octopus like grip.

A visit to semi ruined and overgrown Ta Prohm feels like an adventure. Photo My Bathroom Wall

Your guide or guidebook will tell you that the Ta Prohm temple was built in the late 12th century as a Buddhist monastery and university. He or she will say that Jayavarman VII modelled the temple's main image on his mother, and that the temple was home to about 12,500 people, and so on....But chances are the vast majority of the temple's visitors will already be looking over the guide's shoulders and beginning to tune out. Because Ta Prohm is known the world over as the 'Tomb Raider Temple', the place where Lara Croft plucked a jasmine flower and fell through the earth.

The power of film to associate a place with a purely fictitious person or scene is immense, and much like TV adverts are able to hijack classical and pop tunes for decades - think British Airways and the Flower Duet - the temple complex here will be associated with Lara Croft; Tomb Raider.

Unless you are extremely lucky, don't expect to find yourself alone at Ta Prohm, as its secret is definitely out. Photo My Bathroom Wall

The film was a massive hit back in 2001, despite the best efforts of the critics, and starred Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight, Daniel Craig and Leslie Phillips.

It's become accepted practise for hostels to show any famous film that was shot or is associated with their locale, and of course here is no exception. If you happen to be staying somewhere posh then you could watch it on your own download, or if not places like the The Siem Reap Hostel, which is a super hostel set away from the rather noisy main drag, has good room, a small pool, and a cinema that regularly shows Tomb Raider and The Killing Fields.


The giant aptly named Strangler Figs hold the temple stones in their grip. Photo My Bathroom Wall

The entrance to Wat Tom. Lara Croft drove through it in a Land Rover. Photo My Bathroom Wall

One more thing...

As well as Tomb Raider, the temples of Angkor Wat have also been used as a location for Living in the Age of Airplanes (2015), Two Brothers (2004), In the Mood for Love (2000), Baraka (1992), Carl Sagan's Cosmos (1980), Lord Jim (1965), Mistress of the World (1960), and Beyond Shanghai (1935).


Reasons to be cheerful: despite Ta Prohm's lost temple look, you won't need to hack through the jungle to find it. The temple is a 15-minute drive from the city of Siem Reap along smooth tarmacked roads - and all of the local guides know where to find it. 


You can't always get what you want: word is out about Ta Prohm and it gets busy. The best time to visit early morning, before the heat, the rain, and the first coach parties arrive. It's good for photography too; avoiding the strong contrasts of the overhead sun. For any hope of being alone, arrive before 7am-ish. As with Angkor as a whole, the best plan is morning sightseeing, lunch and a swim, then a siesta and lazy afternoon.


Fitting Angkor into a holiday: fabulous though the temples of Angkor are, touring them gets tiring, and even the most avid history/architecture buff will eventually get templed out. Best to balance a holiday here with a few days in Phnom Penh, or at the Cambodian beaches. And thanks to proximity and plenty of flight options, Siem Reap is easy to combine with Thailand, or with other countries in the region.


Getting there: Siem Reap International Airport is 10 kilometres northwest of the city. It handled 3.5 million passengers in 2016;  useful routes include Bangkok with Bangkok Airways, Cambodia Angkor Air, Air Asia and Thai Airways; Hong Kong with Cathay Dragon and HK Express; Singapore with Jetstar Asia Airways and Silk Air; and Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines.   


When to visit: Cambodia has a tropical climate and is warm year round, with average daily temperatures of 28°. However the best season is from November to April, which avoid the May-October rainy season. Almost 75% of rain falls July-September, when it can rain two out of three days - though in downpours rather than constant rain. 


More info: Ta Prohm Temple is in the 400 acre Angkor Wat temple complex, and about eight kilometres from the most famous site at Angkor, or 13 kilometres from the city of Siem Reap. UK-bases tour operators include Bamboo Travel, Abercrombie & Kent, and Wild Frontiers. Or About Asia Travel is based in Siem Reap. See Tourism Cambodia


Visa and safety: always check your government's travel advice before booking, and ensure that your travel insurance is valid in this part of the country. See the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice.