Wow. I’ll let the pictures do the talking — but Angkor Wat was amazing. The park is just outside of Siem Reap and is a UNESCO world heritage site -comprised of a large region of numerous temples from the 12th century. Angkor Wat is the largest and most famous. Our group of 6 hired 2 tuk tuk drivers (who we thought was also a guide, whoops!) to take us around since there is a bit of distance between each one. While it is often recommended to spend 3 days at Angkor Wat, we divided the major sites between 2 days and definitely felt satisfied. I think if we had more time in Siem Reap it would be nice to take a day off and return for a third day, but the theme that keeps coming up is there is so much to do and not enough time!
Our first day we did the inner loop of the park, taking in some of the major temples. We didn’t arrive until about 8:30 am and it was already getting hot and crowded.
Having just arrived in Cambodia the night before, we weren’t sure what to expect, and within 5 minutes on the road to Angkor Wat, our tuk tuk driver was getting flagged down by a whistle-blowing police man standing in the street. Our driver looked slightly worried/annoyed when he was motioned over to a plastic table/chair setup where they were checking drivers license and collecting money. Fortunately it was a just minor problem, but he was fined for not having his motorcycle helmet fastened. A few minutes later, we were back on the road!
Our second day started with a 4:30 am wake up call, as we wanted to arrive at the park before dawn to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. It was kind of magical to bump along in the pitch black in our tuk tuk; when we got to the park entrance, there was a long line of others doing the same!
I realize there are very few instances where I have sat just watching and waiting for a sunrise, and something worth doing more often! It required more patience than I expected. We knew the time of sunrise, but still didn’t know exactly when the sun would crest over the building. One member of our group was suggesting that we wouldn’t see it because of the haze, but sure enough it just needed more time. The sun will rise! :)
Although we were tired from the early wake-up, exploring Angkor Wat was energizing and we decided to see a few more things. We did the “Grand Circuit” to see some of the other temples further away. It actually was nice to get started earlier in the day to avoid a some of the heat.
It was so worthwhile take in the details and the magnitude, and the ruins and restoration. We spent a bit of time imagining what it would have been like to transport the stones and create these massive structures and carvingwithout modern day machines. It definitely would have been helpful to have a tour guide to get into more of the stories and history of each location, but still had a great time.
Matt took some great photospheres of Angkor Wat, check them out!
(move your mouse while clicking on the photo to navigate)
We would have liked to spend more time in Cambodia - especially after talking with other travelers about their plans (I hear the beaches are incredible), but we hadn’t built it into our timeline and already had a flight booked to hop over to Vietnam. Perhaps we’ll be back someday!