Our Visit to Angkor Archeological Park
In Cambodia, near to a small city called Siem Reap you will find Angkor, an ancient town full of Hindu temples built between 9th and 15th centuries. The area, that has more than 1.000 temples and is larger than 400 km2, was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1992. It is inside this huge area that you will find the Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. While making a tour in Southern Asia, it is inevitable to visit Angkor.
On the day before the great day, we found out that the tickets had been increased not long ago. In February 2017 the administration of the archaeological site was taken by a governmental company that decided to restructure the costs and increase the visitation ticket for foreigners. While Cambodians can visit the site for free, which we consider amazing, foreigners must pay a fee entrance of US$ 37,00 instead of the old price US$ 20,00. Please, click here to read all the considerations and everything you need to know about your visit to the site. We almost gave up. If you are a traveller like us, always on a budget, with your money well planned, you understand the disillusion when a price doubles. But, come on, we were already in Siem Reap, on the day before our super planned day, we couldn’t give up there.
While talking at the hotel reception about how to get to Angkor, we learned about the Tuk Tuk tours and we made our decision for a small tour with a Tuk Tuk that would pick us up at 7 am in the hotel. At the link above we explain more about the tours.
We wanted to watch the sunrise in front of Angkor Wat, but this tour was already getting too expensive to us, so we gave up on that. Later we didn’t regret at all because on next day the sky was super cloudy making the few dollars saved and the few more hours slept worth it.
Our big day
We woke up in a cloudy but pretty warm morning and we were 5 minutes before 7 at the Hotel lobby. Our Tuk Tuk driver was as punctual as us and was already waiting for us. We started our travel and around 10 minutes later we arrived at the ticket centre.
While buying the tickets – only cash is accepted -, they take a picture of you and your Angkor Pass comes personalized with your photo on it. We kept our tickets pretty safe because there is a fee in case you lose it. Not mentioning that they check your ticket every time you enter a different temple area.
At the same place, there was a bakery with popular prices, where we got something to eat for breakfast and we don’t regret, because next chance to eat something was just on lunchtime after so many temples that we can’t even count.
The first stop, no matter which tour you take, is the most famous temple of the archaeological park, the Angkor Wat. We were full of expectations about this temple, but in the end, we had a feeling that it kinda looks better in the picture. It is, of course, a very beautiful place. The architecture is stunning. The details are incredible. We are definitely not undervaluing the richness of beauty of Angkor Wat, it is just not our favourite around there.
Another small fact lowered our enthusiasm there was while visiting inside the main chamber, where they still held some pieces and statues and also where they have their Buddhas for prayers. To enter this area it is forbidden the use of shorts, scarf, top tank and shirts that show shoulders, back or has a low neckline. My outfit was a shirt, shorts, but over my shorts, I had a religious sarong used at the temples in Myanmar. Usually, I was walking around with the Sarong tide in a knot, but for this special occasion, I put it all around my waist, making three turns and closing it in a way that would not fall. Not even one single piece of my legs was showing in any way. Not even if I make a long step. I was all covered and even though they didn’t let me in saying that I was wearing a scarf. I would have understood that IF the woman that was a bit ahead of me, with a long skirt, but with sides openings that would show her entire leg was also forbidden to enter the place. Their explanation is that for Angkor Wat religious chamber, you need to wear a bottom clothing that has a line or an elastic to hold it. Not being weird enough, their suggestion was even worse. They told Simon that he could go first and then go down and change with me. I would wear his pants and he would use the Sarong. So, the moral of the thing: you can get undressed inside Angkor Wat, stay only in your underwear, but you can’t go in one chamber with your body completely covered. Who understands?!
Anyway, I decided not to go up there, Simon would go, take pictures and make videos, but I would not go. Well, the temple was beautiful, but for me still looks better in the pictures. Not mentioning the weird principles.
After the Angkor Wat, we went back to the Tuk Tuk that led us to the Angkor Tom temple site. It is an area with several small temples and it is also there where you can make an elephant ride if you feel like. We, particularly, don’t approve those things too much, because the animals usually are not well cared.
Inside Angkor Thom, you will find 1 big temple (Bayon), 4 smaller ones (Baphoun, Phimeanakas, North Kleang and South Kleang).
Bayon is one of our favourites. It is a ruin full of faces. It is really incredible and we got much more impressed with it than with Angkor Wat. It is actually one of the postcards of Cambodia and you will recognize those faces pretty quick. Explore well the place and make thousands of pictures, you won’t regret!
Besides this temple, we walked through Baphoun and we went to the Elephant Terrace. It is a very charming area, but we decided to not go too long with the smaller temples because we wanted to make sure that wold is enough time to explore it all. Also, the very small temples they are too much in the ruins shape, so you lose a bit the feeling of seeing something grandiose.
Baphoun was also kind of a bigger temple, but for us was a bit less attracting. But if you go to the top, you have a pretty nice view from there. I guess it is the best view of the area.
This temple was just and pure fun. It is a never ending going up into some pretty challenging staircases. On the first level you can have some hand support that helps you up, but on the very last one, you must play Spiderman and grab yourself into the high stones steps. It is pretty fun to walk through it and also to spend some time resting and watching the others challenging themselves on those ancient steps.
By now was already noon and we were begging for some food. Our Tuk Tuk driver took us to a very nice restaurant inside the temples site, where we could have nice meals for fair prices. This small pause was vital so we could keep our touring day. We were already exhausted and it was pretty warm. The best thing is that our driver had a cooler with fresh water available for us.
This was so far our favourite. The temple got famous to a wider audience with the movie Tomb Raider and therefore also carries the nickname Lara Croft temple. Ta Prohm was a temple that was abandoned by the men and was kept forgotten for many years. This temple is so long without a man interference that huge and old trees were already growing over the rooftops, inside the walls, inside the halls. Nature struck back and took its land back. It is really beautiful and impressive. Definitely, this temple got the top of our list and we felt like not stop visiting it. We liked so much that we made all the ways possible inside of it. Simply impressive!
Our tour was almost over. This is one before the last Temple that is included in the small tour. It was also a very nice temple, full of a very interesting kind of spiders and there you could also see the nature striking a little bit back. We got to this temple around 15:10 and we were so tired already that this one we made in slow motion. From all the temples, this was pretty empty. We don’t know if people give up before getting there or if they simply couldn’t make it yet. We left this temple after one hour almost crawling around.
This one is the last one of our tour. It is a very, but very small temple. Besides the size, the temple is pretty charming and they were building up some pretty intense structure for some event that was going to happen there. At this point, we were super tired and after a very quick look, we already head back to our Tuk Tuk.
After the tour, we could have gone back to Angkor Wat and watched the sunset from there, but the fact was that the day was pretty cloudy and there were even some drops falling from the sky. We had a cloudy day at Angkor Wat, with the sun just showing up for few minutes. We considered it a very lucky day, because was already super, mega, master warm without the sun and we could not imagine how it would have been with it.
Sadly the tickets got too expensive for a longer experience at the Angkor Archeological Park, but what we saw was worthy. I hope that my experience helps you to have an idea on how to make the best of your day at Angkor.
Date of our visit to Angkor Archeological Park: 03.04.2017