Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Angkor Wat in a day

If you're on limited time, as we were, and you're heading towards Cambodia you will definitely want to make sure you make it to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. It is the largest Hindu temple complex, the largest temple in the Angkor group and is the best preserved. It is believed to have been built in the first half of the 12th Century and was estimated to have taken 30 years to construct.

The Angkor group is breathtaking. A magnificent sight and is definitely the highlight of my trip to this country. You can choose to see the beauty of this area either at sunrise or sunset. Sunrise is usually the most popular option, which we chose to do. Unfortunately we had a cloudy morning but the view was still amazing. It felt so surreal standing there watching the sun rise behind the monuments, something I had been dreaming of seeing for a very long time. We were told that you could expect the best sunrises in the months of March and April.

The magnitude of Angkor Wat's complex is unrivaled. They offer 3 day passes to allow visitors to see the whole area but as we were only able to visit Siem Reap for one night we could only get the day pass, which was definitely enough to be able to get the full experience of this ancient city.

We chose to go through our hostel when organising this visit, which cost us USD$18 between the three of us. You can however bargain between other tuk-tuk drivers for the best price. The driver also acted as our guide, helping us with the entrance pass and gave us options of the best temples to visit for the day we were there. Tipping is not compulsory nor unacceptable but as he was so friendly, patient, flexible and knowledgeable we decided to give him a little something at the end of our visit as a show of appreciation.

Our day started at 430am and it took about 15 to 20 minutes to get from our hostel (Siem Reap Hostel) to the complex. A day pass costs USD$20 and they issue a personalised ticket for each visitor. This means taking a photo of you, which we had not expected, so we now each have a souvenir of this place that has our puffy, only had three hours of sleep face printed on it. Before you enter each temple you will be asked to show this to the guards so make sure you keep it in a safe place if you don't want to have to backtrack to pay for a new one.

Puffy morning face

If you are there for only the day I would recommend making sure you visit at least these three temples:
- Angkor Wat (main monument)
- Bayon
- Ta Prohm (where the movie Tomb Raider was filmed)

This will give you a diverse range of different types of temples in the complex and in my opinion are the most spectacular ones. Also, there is a delicious locally run restaurant near the entrance of Bayon if you are looking for a place to have something to eat.

The day ended at about 4pm but the drivers are flexible so if you want to leave earlier you can always organise your schedule with them.

Angkor Wat at Sunrise

Outside the entrance of Bayon

Bayon Temple

Stone faces at Bayon

Ta Prohm ruins

Ta Prohm

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