Just around this time last year, I was in Asia. I'm telling you, if you need a trip that's very very different from the norm, go to Asia. I have taken entirely too long to recap this epic trip. But the time is now! Today I'm taking you to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. While Angkor Wat is incredible (it's a wonder of the world) there is so much to see.
A bit of a warning, it's so hot. You cannot escape the heat. BUT it's worth it to go.
Below you can find a map of all the places discussed in this post:
First and foremost, you need a tour guide. Before you book anything, get a guide. They are inexpensive and just make sense for your travels. Yes, there is Angkor Wat, but with a guide, you'll also be ale to see some nearby ruins as well that are worth the trip. In my opinion, Cambodia is a city for tourism because of Angkor Wat. Outside of that, there isn't as much to do (like in Bangkok or Chiang Mai). Full disclosure, I didn't get to see much else other than Angkor Wat on account of being sick as a dog from our Thailand beach trip but luckily I felt better when it was time for the temple tour.
What is Angkor Wat?
A “wat” is a temple and Angkor Wat is the best preserved temple that dates back to the 12th century and the largest religious monument in the world. How people made something SO grand is beyond me. The name Angkor Wat means “Temple City” and when you go, you'll see that there are many temples nearby, perhaps this was the capital of them all. Angkor Wat is located in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in order to get a full understanding you need a guide.
What you need:
A guide and water. Bring water. It is so hot, especially since you'll be walking most of the day and exploring the temples. You'll also need to get a visa before heading to Cambodia. Don't worry, it's easy to obtain, you can do so here. The guide is INCREDIBLY inexpensive. It's only $35 a day for a full tour, guide, car, (and they take you to a lunch spot – you'll pay for your own food) and then drive you home.
How to get there:
We flew from Bangkok to Cambodia and it was very simple! Once there, we stayed in a nearby hotel. We stayed at Angkor Pearl Hotel which was nice and very inexpensive. Pro tip: go to the bathroom before you leave. Once you get there facilities are iffy at best.
What time to get there
You're going to be getting up early. Real early. So you can see the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Your tour guide will pick you up and tell you all about the temple, its history and more. When you watch the sunrise, you might be bombarded with the village children all wide-eyed, looking up at you saying, “one dollar.” Do not be fooled. These kids are selling trinkets to make money and should be in school. At least that's what our guide said.
Exploring the temple:
After sunset, you'll walk up to the temple to start exploring. But watch out for monkeys! As we were walking up, monkeys ran up to us, begging for food. One even stole a sandwich right out of a guy's bag!
The giant faces (that you can line up with your own) are a Buddhist shrine. There are over 200 of them.
Hot sweaty mess express, party of one. You will be gross. Don't even think about doing your hair or makeup. Do bring a hat.
Be aware of the rules. There are quite a few rules when visiting the temple. There are so many, they gave us a long card that we wore around our neck that displayed the rules. Also, the steps are STEEP and there are many, many steps.
What to do nearby:
One of our favorite spots was the “Tomb Raider” temple aka, Ta Prohm. This is where the movie, with Angelina Jolie, was filmed. This is the second most visited temple. This temple has trees that grow throughout. The reason being is that the birds eat seeds, digest them and poop them out on top of the temple. And from there, the trees started to grow.
One of my favorite aspects were the trees! The trees were enormous and stretched up into the sky what looked like for miles.
Michael must have snuck and taken this picture because there is the back of my head and my really cool hat…
As you can see, I was more fascinated by these trees than anything else.
As you walk around, you feel as if you've entered a new world. It's quiet and away from the bustle of noise and cars.
Would you ever visit Cambodia?