We have been staying in Siem Reap for quite some time, and we’re just now getting around to visiting the biggest attraction, both in terms of physical size as well as the number of tourists. That is of course, Angkor Wat.
Flashback to 2015:
First off, if you’re in Cambodia, it’s definitely one of those Must See attractions. If you have the flexibility in scheduling your trip to Angkor Wat, my recommendation is to do so. I’ll get into the why later, but if you have a short time in Cambodia, or for that matter, Siem Reap, just go, and take in the amazing architecture.
With #Adventure333 winding down, we decided that all five of us would do the short one-day tour. There is really so much to see that you could easily spend a week at Angkor Wat, and still not see everything. We opted for the short-circuit, which covers the highlights of the main sites and temples in one day.
Tip: if you want to get a day and a few extra hours, buy your tickets at 5pm or later and you have access for a couple of hours that night. Then you may use your pass for the following full day as well.
One of the challenges of visiting the Ancient City is actually getting there. There are tons of taxi (tuk-tuk) drivers more than willing to take you there, and it’s easy to pay too much. If you have any sort of rapport with the hotel/guest house personnel, ask them for the pricing. Essentially, you’ll be renting the driver and his tuk-tuk for most of the day. $13 – $18 for the day, depending on the circuit you select. Granted, you can do the one-way thing there, and then the one-way thing back, but at the end of the day, when you’re tired, and you’ll be situated a fair distance away from your lodging. Not to mention, it is best to have transportation between the sites. The drivers will have less of an incentive to bargain. After all, you’re stuck, and they know it!
When you get there, you’ll need to get out, and wait in line to pay. If you have kids under 12, make sure you bring their passport, so you don’t have the hassle of proving their ages. Our daughter is tall for her age, and we had to do a bit of coaxing to get her through without paying the extra fare. Once you have paid the admission, and have the ticket printed with your picture on it, make sure and keep the ticket. There will be places where employees will request it.
Find your driver, and he’ll drive you around to the major sites. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a good driver, and they’ll be very clear with you where they will pick you up, and at what time. There are some sites where you enter in one spot, and exit another. It can be very awkward to find out you’re waiting for the tuk-tuk driver at the entrance, instead of the exit. Don’t ask me how I know this. (Cough, Bev, cough!)
There is so much online about Angkor Wat and the other temples, that I won’t go into great detail about the area. Here are some good sources in Wikipedia, and Lonely Planet to get you started. Did I mention it’s huge and Angkor Wat is just one stop of many? Unless you have a lot of time, and are in great shape, it’s not a place where I’d recommend walking. Even with a bicycle it would be a long and hot day. If you have a multi-day pass, then maybe a bike or scooter would work.
Remember earlier when I mentioned that if you have some scheduling flexibility that you should use it? The reason is that everyone and their dog who goes to Siem Reap is going to go to Angkor Wat. If you have the ability to choose a day of the week that minimizes the number of tourists, by all means avail yourself of the opportunity. Go as early as you can so that you’ll miss the tourist buses that roll in mid-morning. Because, here’s the thing…tourists can really kill the vibe of the place! Especially the big groups that seem to take over the place. It was disappointed at how many travelers were so disrespectful to the temples (inappropriate attire, smoking, etc.).
That said, we saw some amazing architecture at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm, which looks like something out of Tomb Raider. Also, make sure you practice saying, “No”, as you’ll be asked to buy all manner of souvenirs and trinkets.
I think Heidi and the kids enjoyed Ta Prohm the most. The trees were just engulfing the ruins and it was gorgeous. This is where we “lost” Gma Bev or perhaps she lost us. We will never know. Let’s just say, this is the temple where your driver drops you at one side and informs you he will pick you up on the other side. Where did we find Gma Bev? Well, she was back at the drop off point of course. Why wouldn’t she be?
Read more about our
Adventure333 (3 Generations, 3 Months, 3 Countries)
Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia
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