We dreamt about visiting this UNESCO world heritage for a long time. Depending on the sources, Angkor Wat is mentioned in line with Petra in Jordan and Machu Picchu in Peru.
Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s greatest temple complex. It was the centre of the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th century. The Khmer left the intact temples in the 15th century. Until today no one knows why. French colonialists discovered this place 150 years ago. With a population of over one million people, it was one of the largest cities in the world during medieval time.
Cambodians are proud of their Angkor Wat. The temple is everywhere: On the flag, on the beer etc. There are still controversies with Thailand as some claim Angkor Wat belongs to their country. Cambodian’s don’t like this.
Most tourists come very early in the morning to make those famous sunrise shots. Unfortunately, we were too lazy. It’s said to be very crowded at sunrise, so we can live with that.
Seeing the temple complexes
It’s really hot here all year round. That’s why you should take a good amount of water with you. Seriously, you’ll die otherwise.
There are over 1000 temples at this complex and as we were here for just two days, we focused on the three big ones: Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm.
This temple complex is of prime importance for Buddhists all over the world. A lot of them pilger to this place because religious reasons. This is why you should behave respectful here which also includes your dressing.
Be prepared for the residents of the temple: Apes, bats, snakes, spiders, etc.
Most people in the region live from tourism. As this is a poor country, there are a lot of kids trying to sell stuff. No matter how cute they are, don’t buy from them.
Better take a Tuk Tuk
We had a Tuk Tuk driver for the whole day. The distances were just too long regarding the heat.
Our Tuk Tuk driver was a nice guy. We lost him after seeing the Angkor temple. Firstly, because he was looking like all the other drivers for us (sorry, it’s the same for them when looking at us) and secondly, he made a nap in his Tuk Tuk. After some time and calling him, we finally found him.
It seemed taking a nap was a good idea for him. He was totally curious and asked us a lot of questions about Europe: ‘Is it really that cold?’ or ‘Is it true your dogs have their own bed?’ I don’t know if he asked these questions other tourists before, but it shows what kind of idea they have from us ‘Farangs’.
This temple is the biggest sacral building in the world. It’s composed of Buddhist and Hindu elements. The dancing women and figures on the wall tell stories of daily life in the Khmer Empire, which had its peak in the 12th century.
The temple is pompous and enormous. Apes like it here. Tourists buy them bananas hoping to take pictures with them. But these guys have their own mind.
We had so much fun in this one.
Bayon is the central temple complex of Angkor Thom (former capital of the Empire). Seeing the stone faces up so close was amazing.
And another temple complex. This one even made it to Hollywood: Some scenes of the movie Tomb Raider were shot here.
It’s an amazing setting: Mother Nature takes back what belongs to her. If you let her. Back when we were there, Ta Prohm was the most crumbly spot of the big three temples. Though it was still our favourite. We loved how the spungs wrapped the temple. It was spectacular.
For more detailed information, we recommend you to buy a good guide book as well as taking a local guide when there. Prices in Cambodia are more than affordable for first-world residents.