Wild, mysterious and beautiful all at the same time. I have been wanting to visit Cambodia for such a long time. Last December my boyfriend and I decided to embark on a month-long trip traveling around this part of Asia. Our first stop was to be Cambodia. On my list were the many temples of Angkor. I will try not to refer them all as Angkor Wat Temples as is the case with most blogs. Angkor Wat simply means City Temple( Angkor means city and Wat means temple, or city of Temples in Khmer), which is the one shown in the pictures below. All the other temples although siting within the Angkor Archaeological Park are not called Angkor Wat like commonly referenced on blogs. Each has its own name. I will be sharing more pictures of the other temple with tips on these in the coming days.
Angkor Park is a world heritage site and compasses 400 square kilometers and more than 1000 temples. Some are just piles of rubble as a reminder of what was. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. Originally constructed as a Hindu Temple for the Khmer Empire but was later transformed into a Buddist Temple. Having explored the temples and ruins of temples, it is by far one of the best preserved among them and a prime attraction for visitors heading to visit Angkorian temples.
Tips on Getting The Most of Your Visit At Angkor Wat
The temple grounds are huge. A lot bigger than I imagined they would be. You will be up and down steep stairs and dark and mysterious(read scary) that you will need to take your time here and explore at a leisurely pace. The walls are covered in so much detail telling stories of empires and life as it once was. It's always beautiful to see the level of detail scribed into the walls showcasing the level of skill it took to not only build and carve out statues, considering the technology they had then and what we have now. All around the temple you will see Apsara carvings(I have a picture below). An Apsara is a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. In Indian religions, Apsaras are beautiful, supernatural female beings. They are youthful and elegant with an art for dancing, perhaps for nudity as well as some if not all carvings are half naked with their ample bosoms out on show. They are said to be wives of Gandharvas, court musicians of Indra can usually be found dancing in palaces of the Gods, entertain and sometimes seduce gods and men(explains why their tits are out on display).
Unless you have a tour guide, learning and knowing a little bit about the site, Hinduism and Buddhism will make your visit to Angkor Wat a little more enjoyable in my opinion as you will have an inkling of understanding what you see. Similar to how, say, as a Christian visiting a cathedral I would have an inkling of what stained windows tales stories of miracles or tales from the bible. It adds a little more depth to your visit than just a picture-taking exercise. I would also recommend checking out the Angkor National Museum which will help you understand a bit more about the beliefs and architecture of the temples in Siem Reap and Cambodia in generally and how this is tied to Indian religions.
When to Visit Angkor Wat Best Times to Visit
Angkor Wat is well known for its sunrise and sunset photographers so prepare fro crowds! If this is not really something you are into then I would highly recommend visit between 8am and 12pm and again before the sunset crowds return before 5pm, depending on the season you visit. You can also come for the sunrise then head back to sleep and return later in the day.
Tickets are sold in one-day($20), three-day($40) and seven-day($60) and are not necessarily consecutive. The tickets will have a picture of you so you will need to bring ID, preferably your passport. They will take a picture of you, so the tickets cannot be transferred to someone else.
Where to Stay:
We stayed at a beautiful little boutique hotel and not to far from the famous pub street where you will spend the majority of your time when not temple running. I will share pictures and tips about where to stay and where to hang out in my next post so look out for that. We booked it via Booking.com. and can also check out Agoda.com. You can check out my tips on how I save money when I book hotels and apartments here.
What To Bring:
Bug spray. There are plenty of mosquitoes around so repellent and a scarf or cardigan to cover up. If coming for sunrise/sunset shoots then bring a torch. Also, bring drinking water and comfortable shoes.
Lion Statues at the entrances.