But really, what can we even say about Angkor Wat? No doubt you’ve already heard plenty about this world wonder, and there’s a reason why. The ancient temples and ruins that sprawl across the 400 square kilometers of Angkor Archaeological Park are simply stunning, not to mention the jungle, fields, and lakes that you’ll find there too.
It’s also teeming with tourists. You can find so many tips on the internet to help you ‘beat the crowds.’ That’s not what this post is about. But we will let you in on a little secret:
We didn’t go to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat and our lives still went on.
Sorry, but walking up at 4:15am to crowd together with hundreds of other grumpy, sleep-deprived tourists isn’t our idea of a good time.
Instead, we fell into the easy, go-with-the-flow energy of Siem Reap, woke up when we wanted to, and did the temples at our own pace.
On our first day, we rented bikes for two dollars a pop and started a leisurely ride towards the park, getting only minorly lost when trying to find the ticket office which was totally out of the way, not easy to find at all, and on a rather busy highway with very little shade. We were hot, sweaty, and tired when we got to the park, but our first ride past the temples made it all worth it. We’d definitely recommend getting the bike, just maybe have a tuk-tuk take you to buy your tickets, have lots of water on you, and avoid the midday heat.
The second day, we opted to be a little more adventurous and rented a motorbike for fifteen bucks. After a few hairy turns, we got the hang of it and felt like the locals as we zipped around tuk-tuks and cars on the way to the park. We were able to make it out to some of further temples, seeing the cows and water buffalo as we passed. There was a few thrilling moments when the map we were following led us down a very narrow and bumpy trail in the jungle, but everyone made it back to the hostel in one piece.
We went into five or so temples including the most famous: Angkor Wat (the big temple) and Ta Prohm, the temple where tomb raider was filmed. While their grandeur was impressive, our favourite one was actually Preah Khan, an overgrown temple that we had (almost) completely to ourselves for an hour before the park closed. Without all the people around, we truly felt like tomb raiders as we climbed over crumbling walls and around trees that had grown into the temple structure. It was nothing short of magical.
All in all, with the massive size of the park and all the different potential sites to see and visit, we’re glad we didn’t try to do this in one day! We’d recommend getting the three day pass. It gave us some breathing room and we wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if we didn’t take our time. Plus getting the bicycles and the motorbike on different days were adventures in themselves.
Have you visited Angkor Wat? What was your favourite site? Leave it in the comments below!
We’re blogging every day on our journey through Southeast Asia! Check out our most recent post by clicking here.