Cambodia: Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor

Seven hours by bus from Phnom Penh is Siem Reap, the city that serves as a hub to all travellers visiting the world famous temples of Angkor. Siem Reap is- perhaps strangely- an unattractive town with many of its roads unpaved , buildings and houses lack charisma except for the top notch hotels scattered around, and not many places to eat except again for a single street which has all the restaurants in town. It is, hence,a place where you’ll find accommodation during your visit to Angkor but little else.

Excitement built up as the day we were going to visit the temples got closer. Our first surprise though was the cost of the entrance fee: 20 USD/ person for one day, 40 USD for 3 days, and 80 for a week (not sure who would spend a week there but oh well). Second, you will need a tuk-tuk (car or bicycle will do too) to get from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat and the other temples, and they don’t come cheap either, at 20 USD/day (read 4 hours) if you bargain hard. We met a Danish traveller willing to tag along, and this saved everyone some money.

Perhaps strangely, Angkor Wat was not the temple I liked most. There are a few others that are much more spectacular  despite not being as big, being Angkor Thom the one I liked most by far. It is mind boggling to see how the trees have grown in, over and around this temple, with its roots embracing the walls and structure. Others have very interesting carvings and towers, this being in my opinion what makes the temples of Angkor unique: the amount of detail that all the temples boast despite the huge area they cover.

There are several typical itineraries to follow, most of them leaving the temple set on a hill for last because of the great sunset that can be enjoyed from there. It was cloudy when we visited it though, so no sunset for us, but we did get some rain as we were leaving (ha!).

The temples of Angkor are unlike any others I have seen in the world. Genuinely remarkable and an impressive tribute to architecture they kidnap your attention and that of your camera during your visit. This said, one full day was enough for us, 2 days being the most I would spend there; I would only stay more if I was very keen on taking specific pictures and needed specific light conditions to suit my shot. It doesn’t come in cheap either (although neither does Cambodia as a country when compared with its neighbours) but then it is also the one and only reason most tourists come to Cambodia for. But not us. Our next stop was Batambang, Cambodia’s second largest city, which¬† we would reach by boat after crossing a lake that would offer quite some special sceneries.

Don’t you think these are some of the most impressive temples in the world? Which did you like more? If you liked this post please “Like” it and share it!

Leave a Reply 4 comments

Laura - January 27, 2011 Reply

I absolutely loved Angkor Wat!! Such a stunning place. I have yet to write about it (though I tried several times) because it’s so cumbersome to try to hit on each of the temples. I think I probably need to skip the details because photos say it all here! I’m not sure I can choose a favorite. The entire thing was like an adult playground!

    maitravelsite - January 28, 2011 Reply

    I had been looking forward for so long to visit this place, and was surprised to see that at the end Angkor Wat was not my favorite. It was a great visit though, one of the most interesting temples I have seen if not the most!

Dave and Deb - January 27, 2011 Reply

I agree, Angkor Thom is my favourite as well. The cost is quite high and as I recall it doesn’t even go to the people, it is owned by some private company. But that could just be a rumour, this is an uninformed comment. Just what I heard when we were there. I am with you, I don’t know how people can spend a week there, but then again we met several people that loved spending several days there and couldn’t understand why we weren’t spending more that 1 day plus a sunset. To each his own for sure:)

    maitravelsite - January 27, 2011 Reply

    I can only understand spending that time if you’re a photographer and need special light conditions. But other than that…as much as I like it it gets a bit cumbersome.

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