Angkor Wat is situated in Siem Reap, Cambodia and forms the penultimate stop of Dream Fly Discover’s very own Upside Down Heart Tour. To read about Vietnam, the Tour and the start of our adventure please see my last post, Planning Vietnam: The Upside Down Heart Tour.
No trip to Cambodia would be complete without a trip to Siem Reap and some good old fashioned exploration of the mind-bogglingly, gigantic religious complex knows as Angkor Wat. The single largest religious site that this planet has ever seen. This ancient city was rampant with over a million inhabitants at a time when London was still in its infancy, struggling with a fluctuating population of around 50,000 largely illiterate lost souls.
For some, this pilgrimage is part and parcel of their backpacking of the far east. For us, however, it is to unfortunately the only stop we’ll be making in beautiful Cambodia. This is not through choice, we’d love to stop and stay but we’ve got work and busy lives to live back in London but we just could not visit this corner of the world without stopping by.
No time to delay then, let’s explore how we intend to tackle Angkor Wat in our, sadly, limited time.
Siem Reap, the main city for Angkor Wat is very accessible and well connected to its neighbours. We’re flying in from nearby Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for an extortionate £99pp but flying out to Bangkok 3 days later for less than half of that price. You’ll need 2 passport photos and approx $35 for your Visa and I’ve heard you get more hassle coming in from their old rivals Vietnam than you would from Thailand. Sucks to be us.
The city is relative simple to navigate with an airport very near the centre and the temples being situated down one long, straight road- Siem Reap has really boomed with the tourism and it is doing so faultlessly. Hire a tuk tuk for the day and experience the wanders of Angkor with a local guide.
This trip will inevitably be all about the temples of Angkor but the city of Siem Reap has come a long way with tourism since the 1960s. Expect to find a plethora of guesthouses, spas and world class wining and dining to be waiting for you after your long days exploring forgotten temples.
There are three main go-to temples in the Angkor region. The famous Angkor Wat- the world’s largest, Ta Prohm- the one with the trees and Bayon- the weirdest. Beyond the big three there are dozens more, each would be dazzling in its own right if situated anywhere else in the world. Basically if you pick a handful to see you can’t go too far wrong.
We arrive midday and intend to explore the temples for the remainder of day 1 and throughout day 2 before departing midday on day 3. Most itineraries recommended a 3 day exploration; with a 1 day stay being an unfortunate cramming session, whilst 3 days allows for a more relaxed finish.
Since we’ll be arriving after midday we will probably hit the main three temples in ‘reverse order’. Everybody starts at Angkor and moves to Ta Prohm and Bayon so we’ll be avoiding the crowds slightly by doing it in reverse; this also means saving the best til last. Day 2 will be an early start at Angkor Wat for sunrise and then some more exploration of the smaller sites such as Preah Khan- a fusion temple blending Buddhism and Hinduism and Beng Mealea- another jungle ravaged shrine. One big mistake would be to try and pack in too much so take the tours at your own pace- there’s always tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be better to enjoy two temples than rush through five?
Besides the temples we intend to enjoy our stay in Siem Reap with good food, sunshine and plenty of cheap beer.
WITH THANKS TO:
DENNIS JARVIS (MAIN IMAGE)
Where else would you recommend for a trip to Siem Reap? Any hidden gems we should check out along the way? Let us know in the comment box wayyyy below. And don’t forget to subscribe and check back for our review on our return!