I’m at the end of a long day visiting the temples of Angkor Archeological Park in Siem Reap. It was even better than I thought it would be – so impressive and at times just breathtaking.
Four of us – Aimee and two friends, Cass and James – rented a tuk-tuk and driver for the day. In true backpacker style, we were determined to squeeze as much as we could into one day to make the most of our single day pass. So, we rose at 4am to see Angkor Wat at sunrise.
Arriving at 5.15am, we were one of the first groups there, beating the tour buses. We stumbled our way in the dark to the edge of the lake in front of the temple, managing to get a great spot right at the front. It’s never too early for hawkers and we were instantly talked into having coffees delivered to us – four for $3.
As the sky began to lighten we had our first sighting of Angkor Wat, the largest and best known of the twenty or so temples in the area. It is simply huge (the largest sacred building in the world) and was an apt start to the day.
We strategically decided not to go inside after this though, thinking if we moved onto other temples and left Angkor Wat until the end of the day we would be ahead of the crowds and also save the best til last. This was a great decision and set us up well – we managed to go most of the day without crowds.
We visited about ten temples, each one different. Bayon was the first temple we visited after Angkor Wat. We were basically the only people there and it was magical. We also spent quite some time posing for the tackiest possible photos. Te Prohm was another highlight. It’s overgrown with centuries-old trees that have roots twisting all around the stone and is just beautiful. It’s famous for being one of the set locations of Tomb Raider.
As the day came to an end we headed back to Angkor Wat. Already having seen so many impressive temples, I wasn’t sure whether Angkor would live up to the hype, but the magnitude of this temple just takes it to another level. Most people had left to visit a popular hill for sunset but we stayed and snuck around the temple as the sun went down.
Fourteen hours after waking up we tuk-tukked back to town for a much needed cold shower. We’re having some downtime now but soon it’ll be time to re-convene for a cold Angkor beer…probably at Angkor What? bar on Pub Street!