Why Siem Reap
- The largest religious monument in the world
- An Architectural Masterpiece
- Spectacular Hindu symbolism
- Rich cultural heritage
- The classical style of Khmer
“Angkor Wat is the main attraction of Cambodia in Siem Reap. It is the world’s largest religious structure that was built in 12th Century……”, standing in front of the blackboard, he repeated. A picture of Angkor Wat was printed on my textbook. it was not satisfied, it only allowed me to be able to indulge in imagination for this wonder of the world.
It was almost 12 years ago that I had learned a little about this place.
in 2016, I planned a 5-days trip to Cambodia. It was also my very first time planning a trip. I brought a friend together with me so that we would have each other’s company even if we ended up in the middle of nowhere 😂
It is not possible to book your entrance ticket online, not even possible to purchase from hotels, tour companies, or any third parties. The Angkor Pass can only be purchased through the official ticket center. Operation hours are from 4.30 am to 5.30 pm daily. You cannot purchase your ticket in advance as a one-day visit is issued if you purchase it before 5 pm. Therefore, if you are late on that day, I suggest buying the ticket after 5 pm because the ticket after 5 pm is valid on the next day.
Tip » If you purchase the ticket after 5 pm, Angkor Wat is free to enter. Many visitors take this chance and go for sunset at 5.30 pm.
There are 3 types of passes available.
- 1-day pass USD 32
- 3-day pass USD 62
- 7-day pass USD 72
I was lucky that I found the contact of a tuk-tuk driver and it was very cheap. Only USD 57 for 4 days ride for each person. The most amazing thing was mineral waters were unlimited provided 🤗🤗🤗
If you cannot find any driver on your own, you can book it from the hotel or just take any driver on the road. But of course, they are rather expensive.
Besides tuk-tuk, you can also hire a van or rent a bicycle. They will also offer a guide at a different price.
Before I take you back to my historical journey through the amazing Angkor, I would like to highlight a few important things that you shall take note of.
- Keep your pass handy and safely, it will be checked during every entry to the temples.
- Dress modestly. Although they won’t stop you for this but keep in mind that this is a religious site where people come to pray. It is more convenient to wear pants and dresses that are at least right above the knee as climbing up the stairs is required most of the time.
- Wear sensible shoes for climbing.
- The weather is humid and dusty, bring enough sunscreen, water, and wear a mask.
- Do not touch, climb, or sit on undesignated areas.
- Do not spit on the floor. I had seen a lot of tourists did so 😡.
- Please ignore the vendors, even though they are only children. Be polite and walk away if you do not plan to purchase anything from them. But if you do, please keep in mind that you will be surrounded by the other kids pretty soon as well 😂
- Traffic in Cambodia is not well-organized, be careful while crossing the road.
Angkor Wat Small Circuit
In this post, I will only include the small circuit tour. You can have a look here at Angkor Wat Circuit Map , the circuit in red is only the small circuit tour. Together with the circuit in green, you complete it as the grand circuit tour which I will only talk about it in my next post.
Angkor is originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and it became a Buddhist temple by the end of the 12th century. However, when it was first built, it served as the capital of the Khmer empire. In the Khmer language, “Angkor” means “Capital City” and “Wat” means “Temple”. Now, it is no longer active as a temple but it is an important tourist attraction in Cambodia.
Angkor Wat is the most impressive and best-known temple to visit. it is also the best well-preserved temple at the site. You will find yourself surrounded by detailed and incredible architecture.
There was a Buddhist shrine in the middle of the temple. I saw a woman went up to the monk and sat down. The monk prayed for her and tied her wrist with a bright orange string bracelet, just like the colour of the monk’s robes.
We pushed ourselves up to the steep stair 😰. There were a lot of tourists climbing up and down before and after us. It was quite scary as the stair is very steep but we were well rewarded with incredible views at the top.
I found every corner beautiful and stunning, but a view on top was often the best. It was romantically touched by the sun and created a shelter for its visitors.
I found myself swallowed by this huge, ancient tomb that made me lost peacefully. I was touched by every piece and corner. I was not reading it anymore in my textbook. I was seeing it, touching it and feeling it. Instead of spectacular, I would rather say Angkor Wat is mysterious.
Catching a sunrise in Angkor Wat
Unfortunately, We did not catch the beautiful sunrise of Angkor. It was not good weather for sunrise. Perhaps you will like to check the forecast before dragging yourself from bed early in the morning for sunrise 😂.
Tips » Go to the pond on the left as you enter for a better photograph. Go to the pond on the right for a lesser crowd.
The many faces of Bayon
Bayon is located at the center of Angkor Thom. It is also one of the temples that impressed me a lot with its 216 gently smiling faces engraved into the rock! The structure of each face are very detailed. Even though they are many faces with almost the same smiling expression, they somehow look a bit different on its unique charm. Most interestingly, Each face is facing one of the cardinal directions of the compass.
Gaze up to the faces looking back down at you, taking an up-close picture and feel the inner peace 😇.
I am sure you will love getting lost in the many faces of Bayon. So make sure you have enough time to check all the faces out😜.
Yeap! Another temple with steep stairs 😂. Since there is no shade available along the walkway, it is better to visit Baphuon early in the morning or late afternoon. We visited in the afternoon, hence we were freaking burned under the hot sun HAHA!
Look at this monstrous structure! You can climb to the top and it offers a spectacular view of Angkor Thom.
You will also find its walls contained with animals, hunters, and warriors. I found this temple unique and magical, It is like a warrior to me.
Thommanon is a small and flat temple surrounded by forests in Angkor. It doesn’t consist of upper levels or rooms. It is simple yet elegant as though we were all minions traveled back in time.
It was a very quick visit for us at Thommanon. Asides from its beauty, it was not as busy as some of the other popular temples which I think you shall not miss.
After exploring under the sun for several hours, we were exhausted and starving.
There were hardly any restaurants around but we found some local food stores and souvenirs shops. These stores were usually found right opposite temples. However, as I mentioned before, ignore the vendors and kids if you do not want to purchase anything from them. I saw some tourists who had pictures with them and surrounded by the kids after. Those kids were asking tourists to buy something in return for the pictures.
Do not get me wrong here, the locals are kind and friendly. However, since they struggle a lot to sustain themselves in such environment, they tend to be more aggressive when it comes to earning money from the tourists. They are not dangerous but overly aggressive.
This temple was left unfinished.
According to the inscription, the temple was struck by lighting during the building process. They believed it was a sign of bad luck and decided to stop building it.
Until now, even the temple is incompleted, I think what makes it special is the unfinished trace.
Here comes the hit list of every visitor – “Tomb Raider Temple”. This place was served as a filming location for the movie Tomb Raider (2001). However, it became popular even before the movie was filmed.
The trees grow around the temple, crashing themselves into the stone wall, eventually caused the temple to collapse beautifully. The roots of the trees are gigantic.
Most of the trees were fenced to avoid people from touching and climbing it. Not only the fence might block your view, but this place was also crowded with people. Everyone tried to sneak in just for a picture.
Banteay Kdei is very close to Ta Prohm. But we did not find as many tourists here as Ta Prohm. Unlike Angkor Wat, Banteay Kdei was never a Hindu temple but Buddhist.
I found Cambodia interesting that its culture blend beautifully with the mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Some of the temples I did not mention in the small circuit tour, for example, Terrace of the Elephants and Leper King. We only passed by it on our way to the next temple. We probably skipped some temples here and there during our visit. So if you have any interesting one to share, please do! 😊
On the other hand, if you do not have enough time to visit them all, you must not skip visiting Angkor What, Bayon and Ta Prohm. But most importantly, make sure you do not drain yourself too much. Because you might want to save some energy to complete The Grand Circuit tour later in my next post😝.
Time is a storm in which we are all lost. It erased everything in our past. However, all the temples from Angkor Archaeological Park remain, and its past glory can be told from its vast scale and architectural sculpture. They continue telling the stories, It’s just beautiful, after so many years.
– Cambodia, June 2016 –
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Other posts of the trip: Cambodia❮ ❯