Temples of Angkor

Cambodia

With Angkor Wat recently taking the title of the World’s top tourist site in TripAdvisor’s 2017 Traveller’s Choice awards, do I really need to convince you to visit this amazing destination? Full of breathtaking temples, amazing food and super friendly locals, Cambodia was one of my best trips I’ve had the chance to take. With so much to see and do in Cambodia, there will be many blogs to come. But for now, I will focus on Angkor and visiting the many temples on offer. This was another trip I booked through Intrepid Travel, and our guide was one of my favourites! Martine is so passionate about his country and it’s history, and he made everyday so much fun with so much local knowledge.

 

Angkor in Sanskrit means “city”, and that it is! With over a thousand temples covering over 400 acres of land, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was once the capital city of the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th Century. Today, with almost 2 million tourists visiting annually it may look daunting. Here are some of my tips to make your time visiting this ancient city more enjoyable.

– Before entering Cambodia, check if you need a visa at visalink.com.au (most countries require one).
– To enter the ruins you will be required to buy a pass which will have your photo on it. You can pick from a one day, three day or weekly pass and can buy it as you arrive. Bring it with you everyday, and keep it safe!
– Angkor is short drive from the modern city of Siem Reap, so you can choose to take a tuk tuk or taxi which for a small fee (USD20-30 approx.) will take you around the loop to get the most temple-time out of your day.
– If you are solo or in a small group, I would recommend hiring a tour guide. While you can walk through on your own, you may enjoy it more knowing that you have a local who knows where they are going and what they are talking about! And at the end of the day, you are giving money back to the local economy.
– You will find a lot of kids begging or trying to sell jewellery/small souvenirs at the main sights you visit. These kids know how to work the cute factor, but it is strongly advised (even by locals) NOT to buy from them. Sadly, instead of these kids being in school they are being used by adults to make money, and the kids will never see any of the money you give them
– After seeing the sunrise at Angkor Wat, most people will continue inside and walk around. Our guide had a hot tip: once you have taken in the beauty of the sunrise, hustle back to your car and head off to Bayon and continue around the loop. You will likely beat people there and be able to explore freely. We visited Angkor Wat the day prior, after sunrise so it wasn’t so crowded.
– Take plenty of water and snacks! It can get really hot depending on the time of year you visit, and while you can buy cold water around the temples it is slightly more expensive.

Angkor Wat
Arguably the most famed temple complex in Cambodia, there is so much more than seen on the postcard shots. The locals are so proud of it that it is featured on their flag! Be warned, if you want the sunrise photo you need to get there EARLY, like 4.30am or before early! It gets very crowded with people setting up tripods and all wanting to be in the best spot, but I felt it was worth the hustle. Not everyday gets the perfect sunrise; for me it was a bit cloudy but cleared up just in time. Take the time to walk around inside and see the designs inside Angkor Wat. 

 

South Gate Entrance to Angkor Thom Bayon
Take a short tuk tuk ride from Angkor Wat to enter Angkor Thom through the South Gate. See the devas (gods) and asuras (demons) lined up on either side of the path of the bridge.

 

Bayon
Continue along the way (look out for the cheeky monkeys!) and arrive at Bayon. I must say, this was my favourite temple. With over 200 smiling faces carved into the 54 towers, it was such a beautiful sight to see!

 

Ta Prohm
This temple has found fame thanks to the first “Tomb Raider” which was filmed here. While some parts of the temple are sadly decaying, it is particularly beautiful thanks to the natural trees and vegetation which have grown into the structures.

 

Banteay Srei
What this temple lacks in size it sure makes up for in beauty. Built from stone with pinky tones and covered in elaborate carvings and 3D sculptures, it’s definitely worth the drive to see.

 

Terrace of Elephants
Part of Angkor Thom, this terrace was where the King would stand and watch his army return home. 300m long and 2.5m high, take a walk and explore the beautiful carvings.

With so many temples to explore it’s difficult to list them all. But for me, these were my favourites that I visited during my trip to the Ancient City of Angkor. I can’t wait to go back to this amazing site and explore them in more depth! Have you been to Angkor? Please comment below with any of your tips or experiences!

អរគុណ Angkor!
Emily xx

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