How is the new year ringing in thus far?? I got some time away with Henry over new years holidays, so we went to Siem Riep, Cambodia with a few friends. During my research I found a lot of conflicting information and personal advice from travelers on Trip Advisor and Expedia about how to travel and see the temples. Should we ride bikes? What time should we go? What should be worn? Which temples are the best to see? While our trip was short we managed to do a lot of wonderful things, because we did them in the right way, which I wanted to share with you here.
We left our hotel at 430 am on 1/1/16 to see the first sunrise of the year. We wanted to see the biggest temple, Angkor Wat and needed time to buy tickets and to make our way over. We rented a tuk tuk for $20 for an entire day ($5 more that the usual day rate because of the early morning start time) The early morning hours are chilly while the day time hours are dusty, so bring a sarong to cover yourself and block your nose from dust. Taking an air-conditioned car is also an option, but tuk tuk is just as savvy and we enjoyed riding around. Along the way we saw bikers riding in. We stayed near to the temples but it is still a 6 km distance from the ticket booth to the temples. Considering a ride back and forth would take hours and would tire you out in the process.
Approaching Angkor Wat at dark is mysterious. As the sun started to peak over the temple we hurried our pace to find a place within the walls to settle. Don’t get me wrong, there were thousands of people walking in as well all looking for a place to catch the magic. The grounds are massive; however, there is plenty of grass to settle upon. Some individuals even found a place to sleep and immediately were very glad we rested up for a few hours instead of partying through the night.
The morning we visited Angkor Thom. One of the three must-see temples in the golden triangle. Angkor Thom is famous for the jutting roots from the surrounding trees that have worked to support and also crumble the temple. It is the temple in the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie where throngs of tourists also visit. We arrived at around 700 when the sun was up but still cool. The best part for me was driving in the gates and exploring the little alley ways of the temple. There were less people than Angkor Wat around, so we took our time to discover and enjoy.
The last temple we visited was Bayon. Visiting 2 temples in a morning would be okay if we had gotten an earlier start, but unfortunately by the time we arrived the temple at 9 the temple was packed with tourists with flags, whistles, selfie sticks, and chatting so loud the temple hardly seemed like a sacred place. We did purchases a 3-day temple pass, but with not enough time to come back the next day and wanting to sleep in the next morning we decided to embrace the crowd and head in. The smiling stone faces are amazing and, would we have visited earlier, Bayon would have been my favorite out of the three. I hope this blog makes your visit easier and I hope I have the opportunity to visit again in the future.