If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia you’d be a fool to not visit Angkor, but I’m sure you know that. So I don’t need to ramble on about how great it is, you don’t need convincing. So this post isn’t for that, it’s for me to express how magical the place felt, and how at times it can feel like you’ve sweat more than humanly possible.
The Angkor Archaeological site is truly a magnificent thing to see. It’s a lot bigger than you probably imagine, and is best done over 2 days or even 3 if you want to be super relaxed. The price for the 2 and 3 day passes are the same ($40) so you may as well buy the 3 day pass anyway.
There are 2 circuits, long and short. The long one is just further in distance, but is actually the shortest one in terms of viewing the temples, it is made up of mostly small temples. The short-circuit is made up of all the bigger temples and involves a lot of walking and climbing stairs (some being very, very steep!). It is advisable to get up super early (around 6:30 am) to do the circuits, not necessarily for the sunrise but just to beat the heat and the human traffic. It can be very crowded on some of the more popular temples especially around 10/11 am time. In total we visited around 12 temples, climbed an insane amount of stairs and seen hundreds of butterflies!
The Tuk-Tuk cost us $15 a day for as long as we wanted, and we were out for about 6-7 hours both days. It can be cycled and you can rent bikes for $2-3 a day, but I think it would have been too much cycling all around and then climbing the temples in the baking heat, so we opted for the Tuk-Tuk. If you want to do the sunrise at Angkor Wat that’s an extra $5. However we heard off multiple people that it’s not really worth doing, lots of people there and quite anti-climactic (maybe it’s because it’s rainy season?).
Pictures don’t really do any of the temples justice, they are truly amazing to see, but it’s so much more than that, there is a child in each of us that still longs for exploration, and mystery and the whole place has it. Each temple has its own feel, some are now swallowed by the towering trees, some are in very good condition but with not much going on, others are maze like and huge where you can temporarily get lost. Every time I looked at the ground I hoped to find some treasure hoping that somehow every other person in time had over looked it, but alas everywhere has been picked clean.
Even though you’re seeing temple after temple it doesn’t get boring, but it does get tiring, it is so hot, and some of the stairs for bigger temples are super steep, you reach the top only to be greeted by more stairs climbing even higher. It does feel good when you finally reach the very top, but by this point you are a sweaty mess desperate for water (make sure you take plenty!!)
My least favourite temple (although it had an amazing view) was Angkor Wat, there are an insane amount of tourists, and it just isn’t as impressive as some of the other temples, it lacks the magic that the others have, but my absolute favourite was Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is the most magical of all the temples with trees coming out of almost every corner of stone, tearing some of the buildings in two, this is the most run down temple of all of them, but that just makes it all the more inspiring. I wish that you could climb atop some of the temples, but it’s either too unsafe and when it looked safe enough there were normally security guards near by.
Another thing to note is the wildlife around the whole place! There are a crazy amount of beautiful butterflies around, we also saw a millipede, monkeys, spiders, huge ants (making their way to the trees) and also elephants, though they weren’t wild sadly 😦
So my advice is this; do it over 2 days, maybe even 3, go to all the temples, take lots of water, if you’re insanely fit, cycle, I can definitely see why it would be awesome to do. You should also go early, when we did the long circuit, we started at 6:30 and had no other tourists for the first 5 temples, which was awesome! I wish I knew more about the history before I visited, as I think this would have made the temples even more impressive. But for me this place is all about releasing that inner child and just forgetting about day-to-day life for the few hours you’re here!