Angkor’s temples in Cambodia are spectacular (pictures don’t give them justice) – something that it’s hard to imagine to exist! I can’t possibly get enough from the fascinating thought that what if there wouldn’t be any people – that it would be possible to experience them in complete peace, alone. That would be magical. Something I do in my dreams. Yep, that’s a minus: there are a lot of tourists at the temples. The area is a beautiful tourist trap that I still recommend.
Angkor is actually the name of the ancient Khmer empire capital, where are still thousands of temple ruins and some preserved ones that have been built between 800–1300 AD. Check at least the pics below to raise your travel fever to go and see the temples. If you are actually going there, check these notes quickly out to prepare for your visit a bit better than I did.
1. Watch the Angkor Wat at sunrise directly from the front
There isn’t a proper 100 % sunrise where you can actually see the sun coming; you just see the temple and the surroundings getting lightened. To me, this wasn’t that special, especially when I was first standing a bit aside and still among hundreds of people. In fact, the building had looked very tiny when arriving there in the morning dusk. To me Angkor Wat looked much better when after a couple of hours examination I left, and the crowds were gone, and the sun was nicely shining above the temple.
2. Have a guide or buy at least the one dollar guide book
To actually learn something about the temples and the history take a guide for a couple of hours. Or at least buy the one-dollar book that the vendors sell outside, it tells a lot of interesting facts about the reliefs inside, etc. While I was there I was dead curious but didn’t have any help – I was reading afterwards which was stupid!
3. Have long sleeves
You can’t get everywhere unless you have your shoulders and knees covered – and even a scarf isn’t enough! That’s something I learned only there and sadly couldn’t visit all the spiritual spots.
4. Take some lunch with you
It is very expensive, the famous tourist prices around the temples. Your tuk-tuk driver probably asks you if you want to have a lunch and then brings you to a ridiculously expensive (compared to the local price level) restaurant from where he would get some commission. So if you were on a budget take your own picnic lunch – would be actually nice to have a picnic somewhere there in a beautiful spot under the shadow. But don’t you dare to leave trash behind you.
5. Take your time or just conquer a few temples
There is a lot to see. A LOT. Choose only a few of the temples to visit or have a couple of days and take it really easy. I was there only for one day, saw maybe six temples and got fed up at the end: no more temples, I said! So it’s easy to get to that level when they don’t seem that interesting anymore – so take your time and wander and wonder slowly. Or else have one effective but focused day.
6. Don’t go partying the night before
It’s boiling, exhausting and a very long active day with steps and climbing at the temples. And you wake up and go go before five if you’re planning to see the sunrise. That’s why the pub street in Siem Reap is probably not a good idea on the previous evening – like not me but some had under. Get some sleep and enjoy the tough day!