In my last two posts I described the main temples in Amgkor Wat. Yesterday I spent a third day exploring some of the more remote, smaller constructions around Angkor Wat. More on that shortly but Id like to provide some practical tips for visiting Angkor Wat here first.
For me this trip is part of a longer sojurn in south east asia which will include trips to Myanmar and Thailand but a visit to Angkor Wat would also make for a fantastic short holiday.
Siem Reap is the nearest town and, of course, has an airport. For the quickest way to get here and the best fares I use skyscanner – http://www.skyscanner.com . Just be sure the cookies are off in your browser, otherwise my experience is that prices go up with repeated browsing.
Here in Siem Reap, I had wonderful accomodation. I stayed at Blossoming Romduol Lodge and would heartily recommend it.
Wonderful staff, good food, a little swimming pool and a really nice big room with air conditioning. They also gave me a free bike to explore Angkor Wat, free transport from the airport and breakfast included. I ended up booking a triple as there were no singles or doubles and cost was only 20 dollers a night.
The town itself is pretty touristy. Heaving at night, with all sorts of food stalls, bars, restaurants and if course tuk tuk drivers vieing for your custom.
The town is about four miles from the temples of Angkor Wat. So that is either a short tuk tuk drive or a 40 minute cycle. I was a bit nervous getting into the chaotic traffic but it wasnt nearly as bad it looked. Drivers are actually quite considerate and I never witnessed any impatience or bad temper on the roads.
For admission to Angkor Wat you can either get a one day (37$) a three day(62$) or a one week pass (72$).
N.B.Don’t forget to go to the ticket office. You cannot get tickets at the entrance!
I got a three day pass and found it very satisfactory for my purposes. I was able to dawdle at the temples, relax in the forested walks sorrounding the temples and still got to see all the important sites and some of the more remote ones.
For the first two days I cycled which I wòuld recommend as the most pleasant way to experience the temples. I could explore as I wished, take my time, dawdle and meditate as I prefered. Up around the temples there is little trafic also and its forested so its a lovely place to cycle.
You can also use a tuk tuk. I got one on the last day for two reasons. I wanted to see sunrise at angkor wat and I wanted to visit some of the more remote temples. The whole expedition took about 8 hours and cost me 32$. I could possibly have bargained a little but I was happy enough with the price. I must say it wasn’t as enjoyable with a tuk tuk driver as cycling. I was conscious that he was waiting so wasn’t able to take my time as I pleased. Also we were sticking very much to the recognised tourist paths so ran into crowds a little more frequently.
Nonetheless I still had a great day and saw some beautiful places.
Angkor Wat at sunrise.
Also it was cool to go into the building and feel the warmth from the stone. The stone structure keep it cool in the day and released the heat accumulated during night keeping it lovely and warm.
Then we took the long trek out to see the Bantrey Srei, also known as the ladies temple or citedel of women. Its a bit of a journey but of course its worth it !
Its a small pretty temple and boasts possibly the finest stone carvings anywhere in the angkor wat complex. Originally it was a 10th century Hindu shrine dedicated to Shiva with a settlement around it.
Next we visited Preah Khan, apparently a sort of former Buddhist university. It’s a pretty tumble down place now with many halls and doorways.
It does have a supercool tree growing out of it too!
Next was Neak Pean. This was a really gorgeous water based monument which more than hinted at its former splendour. In the past it was located on an island at the middle of a lake considered by many to be a representation of the sacred Himalayan lake of Anavatapta.
We rounded out the trip with visits to East Mebon and Phum Srah Srang.
East Mebon was actually a water reservoir with enormous towers once capable of holding 55 million cubic meters of water. It was dedicated to the Hindo goddess, Ganga, and would be easily mistaken for a the ruins of a temple now.
Phum Srah Srang is also the ruins of a reservoir. It was a tough but fun climb in the midday heat.
And so ended my joyful exploration of the Angkor Wat temples. I will be back sometime. It’s definately somewhere I’d like to show my daughter when she is older. And there is a half marathon here in early December which I just missed !
I rounded out the day by the pool reading before venturing into town to try out the local ambassodors in Siem Reap
I wouldnt be coming here for the Guinness lads !
Alan Coakley is a Travel director based in Ireland.