The main attraction of any trip to Cambodia is undoubtedly a trip to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples of Angkor. The impressive temples are not only profound because of the sheer size of how many temples are in the area, but because the detail on them is still remarkably intact. The temples span across miles and miles and it no joke takes several days to see all of them if you’re so inclined. Because of the popularity of the attraction, I highly recommend getting a personal guide and I would very highly recommend having your hotel reserve you one in advance. We made the mistake of not planning ahead, so when we arrived in Cambodia, our hotel said that most of the guides were already booked, so we had to scramble to find someone for the next morning. We did get a guide eventually, so all’s well that ends well, but don’t go through the stress we went through. Book in advance.
I’m going to again let the pictures do the talking for this blog post, but I will mention a few tips/highlights:
- A 3-Day pass is $40. You’ll need to have it on you at all times to get in and around Angkor Wat.
- It is an extraordinarily hot place, especially during the summer. Bring a ton of water.
- The early sunrise is worth seeing, but I don’t think the arrival time of 5 am is necessary. You could probably leave a little later and still catch the best part of the sunrise over the temple. For a good picture, take a spot at the edge of the pond in front of the temple so that you can see the reflection in the water. It’s not a secret, so you’ll see plenty of people around that area.
- Obviously Angkor Wat is huge, so there’s too much to get into in this one blog post, but my favorite parts were
- the magnificently preserved Monkey vs. Demon carvings on the main Angkor Wat temple;
- the tree wrapped temples at Ta Prohm with their giant roots where they filmed Tomb Raider (something they were proud to point out incessantly);
- the Banteay Srei aka “Pink Temple, which was like a mini Angkor Wat made of pink stone with easily the most detailed carvings of all the temples that had been preserved; and
- the 49 columns with Buddha/the King’s face at Angkor Thom.
- One last note: There are so many temples aside from the main Angkor Wat temple that aren’t as highly regarded or populated with tourists. At those temples, be on the lookout for wildlife. Even though the temples are marked off as tourist attractions, they’re still in the jungles of Cambodia. As a case in point, when we went to Beng Malea, as I was taking a picture, my buddy and tour guide abruptly told me to get the hell out of the way fast. I had no idea what they were talking about until I looked up and saw a giant green snake on the branch above me. I promptly shit my pants and stepped away. The guide told us that type of snake was actually quite poisonous and he used a branch to try and get it to slither back up the tree to at the very least give it some distance from the path. Quite a scary moment indeed and one that should be a reminder to be vigilant.