Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor

Angkor Wat is certainly one of the most iconic buildings in the world, and so many people I’ve met in my travels have wondered whether it is worth fighting through the crowds of tourists and tour buses to see it. My personal answer? Yes. Yes it is. Very much yes. All the yes. If you have great stamina and hydration you could mush a lot in one day – just be specific what temples you’d like to see – do your research! March is one if the hottest times of year so we spent two mornings of temple viewing before retreating back to the pool in the hotel around the corner from our guesthouse (Sweet Dreams – Cambodia is the home of guesthouses with cute names!)
Firstly let me state that Angkor Wat is just one temple in a complex of about 50 temple ruins. It is at its most beautiful at sunrise, but you need to get up pretty early to get a good spot down near the moat before the crowd moves in. My favourite one to explore was Bayon – a beautiful ruin full of corridors and corners to get lost in, you can almost forget the other 100 or do people exploring it with you!
Ta Prum is also very famous for being the temple used in Tomb Raider. It is pretty beautiful, all overgrown with the roots of trees winding their way over the walls. Unfortunately, because it’s featured in Tomb Raider, it is SUPER busy with people lining up to take pictures of themselves everywhere! Go early, or late, just avoid the tour buses in the middle of the day at all costs!
Another beautiful temple is Banteay Srei, or the Lady temples, which is about 37km from the main Angkor complex. It’s smaller and being further away it is less busy than the others, but the carvings are exquisite, and the style is a refreshing change from the same ish temples of Angkor.
There’s not a lot else to do in Siem Reap other than visiting Angkor. We spent a bit of time in the Blue Pumpkin cafe (free wifi, nice food and great gelati) and the new leaf bookshop/cafe (excellent!). In the shopping centre across the road from new leaf there’s a private cinema where you can choose from a huge range of movies and spend a few hours in a dark, air conditioned room! Pub street is fun at night as well, we bumped into some Spanish guys we met on Vientiane (which is so dull I’m not going to bother writing about!) and spent the night drinking cheap tequila and learning Spanish insults!
So that was pretty much Siem Reap for me, still to come: the hotel bus from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville and Kampot.




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