Angkor Wat Temples
After two flights and 3 hours of wait in Kuala Lumpur, we finally reach the starting point of our adventure, Siem Reap in Cambodia. We had 4 days in Siem Reap to visit the amazing Angkor Wat temples and to relax in the city.
Siem Reap is a perfect little city, centered on tourism and on the temples, which made it famous around the world.
I think that if you want to really enjoy and appreciate all the beauty of Angkor Wat, you have to organize your visit in a certain way, otherwise you get sick or tired of seeing « yet another old temple ». We thus visited the small temples on the first day, the normal ones on the second day and the biggest and most famous one on the last day.
I’m not saying this is the only way to visit Angkor Wat, but it’s the way we did it, and we totally enjoyed our trip.
After our first « night » in Siem Reap, we woke up at 4h AM to rent bicycles and went to see the temples. We bought a 3 days pass for 40$US. We arrived at Angkor Wat itself around 5 AM in order to watch the famous sunrise over the Angkor Wat temple, but we did not visit the temple right away. We went directly up north, to the Preah Khan Temple. At this time of the day, it was completely empty, so we had the privilege of feeling alone in this beautiful temple. After that, we went to Banteay Prei and Prasat Prei, two small temples next to Preah Khan. We headed back south to go visit Thommanom and Chau Say Thevoda, two others small temples, followed by Ta Keo, the biggest Mountain-Temple of the site. The view and the heat were quite impressive at that time. The last temple we visited that day was Ta Phrom, the famous temple from the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Movie. At that time of the day, 2 PM, the temple was full of tourist, which kind of ruined our visit, since it was impossible to simply enjoy the view and take good picture of it. After almost 10 hours of visit and cycling, we headed back to Siem Reap and the pool that was waiting for us.
Total for Day 1 : 40 km, 10 hours, 7 temples & 5 coconuts.
Since we wanted to see the farest temples, such as Banteay Srei at 23 km of the site, we decided to take a tuktuk for that day.
He pick-us up at our hostel at 7 am and we went directly to Banteay Srei, a recluse temple, unique in its own way. This temple is the most detailed one and is made with a unique stone, which make the stones look all pink. After that, we did the « Grand Tour », which includes all the medium-sized temple of the site. We thus did Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Banteay Kdei and Prasat Kravan. We went for the sunset at Phnom Bakheng, but there was too much cloud, so no sunset for us.
Total for Day 2 : 10 hours, 8 temples & 4 coconuts
Finally, the last day, the one with the most amazing and biggest temples of the site. We again woke up at 4hAM to go see the sunrise over Angkor Wat and like the first day, we did not visit Angkor Wat right away, since all the touristic tours are starting with that one, so it is always over-crowded in the early morning. We instead went to Ta Phrom again, since we were deceived with our first visit. The second time was simply amazing. There was nobody, so I was able to take beautiful shots of the temples and the trees. The golden hours just after the sunrise made incredible pictures of the temple. We then went to Angkor Tom, at Bayon to see the multiples faces of Buddha on this Moutain-Temple. (bit of history here). We continued our visit at Baphuon, where we had to cover our legs and shoulders, resulting us on dying because of the heat. We walked in the small forest trail behind the temple to reach the Preach Palilay temple, beautifully covered in tree roots. we walked next to the incredible Terrace of the Elephants. It was around 11h30 AM when we finally reached Angkor Wat Temple, during the hottest time of the day. We entered the site only to discover that there was almost nobody inside the temple, because of the heat, so we decided to bear the heat and to visit Angkor Wat while empty. I could lie to you and say it was amazing and the most beautiful temple I’ve seen in my three days, but I am not going to do that. Angkor Wat is amazing and big. But in my opinion, it’s not the best temple. They restored it all resulting of it being perfectly… fake. You do not get the same feeling as when you enter older ruined temples that are still perfectly imperfect and destroyed by time. We still had an amazing time visiting Angkor Wat while nobody was there for 2 hours.
Total for Day 3 : 11 hours, 5 temples, 1 terrace and 2 coconuts.
Angkor Wat Temples are simply amazing. I hope that they would stay like that for a long time, but with the enormous amount of tourist that go there every year and the poor protection of the temples ( you can touch everything and go everywhere in the temples, nothing if protected), we can already see degradation of the temples, added to all the restauration they are making, this UNESCO World Heritage Centre will not stay intact for ever.
“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.”
*Visited from May 28th to June 2nd