Siem Reap Attractions – Angkor Wat Buddhist Temple
I first came to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, when I was traveling around Cambodia and Sri Lanka for 2 months and with very little idea about the area; other than it was supposed to be very interesting and that it is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Buddhist Temple paradise!
This post will be only for the main temple of Angkor Wat as the site is a huge complex of 1.626.000m2 (Oh yes!) where I will be referring to a separate post. The main temple is our first and last stop on a 3 day trip to this historic area.
By Cambodia history, where “the builder of Angkor Wat was a king named Suryavarman II. He came to power in his teenage years by killing his great uncle, Dharanindravarman I, while he was riding an elephant. An inscription says that Suryavarman killed the man “as Garuda (a mythical bird) on a mountain ledge would kill a serpent.” Read more about the history, this temple manages to win the heart of millions of visitors every year.
Looking back over my notes, photos, videos from those days, I notice the shock and the ecstasy of my first view of the site. I meet with my new friend, named Malini and our Tuk Tuk driver and early in the morning at 5:00 am we arrive at the temple to watch the sunrise as it is the normal time of all the visitors who wish to enjoy it.
Angkor wat sunrise
We are standing on the edge of a big lake of a long dusty pavement opposite the Temple. From here you can admire its breathtaking beauty as the sun starts to rise. Along the riverfront, more than a hundred people with all kind of cameras trying to catch the movement of the golden sun.
The first sunbeams it begins to appear and a magical picture like a postcard begins to reveal its beauty. This view is deeply touching. We sit quietly for a quite some time, among a group of tourists, like us, to admire the scenery.
We leave the main temple area, where we discover the other temples and on the 3rd day late afternoon, hot and humid we arrive back to the temple.
Walking through a big path, and observed the entrance at the end, we enter the “gate” where we climb a few steps to enter in the towers area. Closer to the statues there are mendicants and monks praying.
After passing through a series of small towers we come into the external area, where we notice a small queue. At least 20 people are here and it’s the queue for the main central tower. Written signage refers to a waiting time of an hour, during pick times, luckily not in our case. The main tower is at about 65 meters high, accessible through uneven, slippery steps.
The temple consists of small enclosure walls and it is surrounded by breathtaking views. I turn to gaze out over the view the edge of the balcony where a group of Japanese cluster around me for the same reason. We spent a good deal of time around the site and grow fond of its beauty, its atmosphere, and the monks. Like many travelers, I was attracted by the serenity of the monks.
On the way down – Siem reap attractions
I keep my eyes on the steps and my legs getting cramped…The steps are too steep and small. A lady starts shouting as she is really scared. We stuck for 5 minutes and I feel my heart cold, as I am not so fond of heights. Once I am down I feel relieved.
With my mind still boggling over those steps, we leave the site and we head for a coconut juice. Outside the main site area, there are many shops with food and drinks.
Continue on foot and we reach to our last stop, a mini lake. We see a photographer exercising his duty with two monks and lots of people posing for photos. Turning around in a beam of sunset, it comes to us that we rarely have seen such a beauty! Our heart starts pounding and we stay speechless. Here you can see the panoramic area of the temple and its reflection on the lake. Sometimes dreams just stand out there, in front of you!
Even after leaving it behind, the picture of the last view kept returning to me like some haunting flash of life. I close my eyes and I feel my presence still there, to that last moment.
Things to consider:
- Visit the main temple during sunrise or sunset. Trust me you will experience one of the best scenes ever and you will have magnificent photos. Besides that, in the middle of the day, it’s very hot – during summer – and you will not be able to enjoy the Temples.
- The opening hour is 5:00 am (the upper level though opens only at 7:30) and closes at 5:30 pm.
- Angkor Wat Temple is the largest of all the ones. We spent 2.5 hours in total.
- You will need an Appropriate dressing.
- The price of a single-day ticket to the temple complex during 2016 was $20 but today it is increased to $37, a three-day pass was $40 up to $62 and a seven-day ticket was $60 and has been increased to $72. If you wanna see all the Temples take the three-day pass, which I highly recommend. If you have limited time just buy the single one and visit the Angkor Wat Temples and 1-2 other of main Temples.
- US dollar is the main currency.
- Temples of Angkor have situated at 7km away from the town of Siem Reap.
- It’s cheaper to hire a Tuk Tuk driver and buy the tickets than book a whole tour from travel agents. Even cheaper is to hire a bike and tour around but during summer I would not recommend it. Me and my travel friend Malini, which I met there, we hired Mr Keath as Tuk Tuk driver. Excellent service including cold water, very polite, cheerful, he speaks very well English. He bought our tickets to avoid the queue, he proposes places for the nicest photos and acts as Photographer also. 🙂 Highly recommended! You can find his services on his Facebook page here: Keath Sothea – Tuk Tuk Driver (Please note that it’s my opinion only and it’s not a sponsored post)
- The weather is cooler from November to February but with a huge amount of tourists.
- You can find below a Temple map that I sourced from Canbypublications.com and I changed it a bit, so you have an idea of the area.
- You can have a look at the Temple on the following video. NOTE: Nothings prepares for the real thing. It’s even more spectacular of any photo or any video you watch, so put it on your bucket list. 🙂
Do you want to read more about Siem Reap?
You can read my Volunteering experience Here
Happy Journey and I would love to receive your comments or requests you may have. 🙂