The immense Kymer temple complex of Angkor Wat has been cited by many as being the world's "8th wonder"- with good reason.
It's vastness and grandeur envelops you from the moment you exit the canopy of the long, straight road from Siem Reap and you can't help but feel you've stepped far back into a magical time.
This magnificent sensation was enhanced when I decided to hire a bicycle and set off at 4am from Siem Reap to reach the temple while it was dark dark. It was incredible being able to sit back and watch the entire sunrise unfold with the temple's silhouette slowly coming into view, hearing only the flutter of dragonflies hovering over the pond in front of me.
Google map: bit.ly/AaogXn
Your hotel will recommend a driver and guide (two separate people) for a hefty mark-up. I can recommend Nhep Sophea who's known as Tee for short. He's punctual, courteous and knows his way round all the temples. A car is much more comfortable than a tuk-tuk given the heat and dust and not a whole lot more expensive .
I recommend this spectacular light and sound show. Set against the back drop of the east entrance of Angkor Wat, a cast of some 160 Cambodians performed traditional Khmer dances, including the unique aspara dance. The hour-long show will play only until January 20 2008. A truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Paul of Hidden Cambodia Adventure Tours looked after us from the minute we arrived to the minute we left.
He booked all accommodation, guides dinners & Angkor Tours. The big one for us was a 4 day 4WD adventure tour to Beng Mela and Koh Ker with an overnight in the village beside the temple. The second night was at Preah Vihear, a fantastic eleventh century temple on a mountain.
We stayed an additional night in Anlong Veng, a very interesting location which has strong Khmer rouge connections.
All in all, food, services and attention to detail provided, Hidden Cambodia was excellent and I would highly recommend them!!
Don't just 'do' Siem Reap in a day, take a bunch of photos and then shoot off to Thailand. Once you've seen one temple you've not seen them all, any guidebook will tell you that.
Take time, find a decent guesthouse and spend at least five days there. Hire a bike and pedal round, stopping at anything that catches your eye. A five-day pass costs 60$USD, it will be one of the best buys you'll make.
It is part of the Angkor temple complex, one of the smaller sites that is far less known by the casual tourist.
Anyone planning on visiting Siem Reap and going to experience the treasures of Angkor needs to know that Angkor Wat is just one of dozens of sites in the immediate vicinity - it is the biggest and undoubtedly the most impressive, but is also incredibly crowded and not particularly relaxing.
Many of the other temples - such as Ta Prom - are far smaller, but also far less busy - when we went to Ta Prom, we had it to ourselves for about an hour, and wondered around Indiana Jones style and were blown away by the serenity and beauty - highly recommended.
Everyone identifies Angkor, and indeed Cambodia, with Angkor Wat, but in my view the piece de resistance is The Bayon.
Famed for its dozens of carved faces looking east, west, north and south, The Bayon is perhaps the most enigmatic ancient relic in the entire continent of Asia. Don't forget to examine the story-telling murals that encircle it either.
Even after a few hard days of wat-hopping in the heat and dust, The Bayon is one place that will draw you back to consider its mysteries one more time.
Dead centre of the ruined city of Ankgor Thom.
Pass required to vist temple complex at Angkor Wat. Passes are available for a variety of days with some visitors spending considerably more to visit for anything up to 5 days. Despite the obvious attractions of the temples etc anything more than a day can become very repetitive... seen one ruined temple you have seen them all.
Impossible not to find it as it is the only reason that you will be there.
Extraordinary remains of monumental civilization dating from 7Ad-13AD:Angkor wat is the most famous temple of the complex, and can be seen on Google earth satellite pics. There are a whole lot of temples, and a stay of at least 5-7 days is recommended. Best time to go is between Nov-March, but the rainy season, from July-October is also good. Great photo ops, and a fascinating culture and people, who, in spite of the Khmer Rouge years and civil war, are friendly and approachable. But be careful of bag snatchers, and children begging in Siem Reap town. Read some guidebooks like Lonely Planet, but dont believe everything it says.
Siem Reap is linked from Singapore on Jetstar airways, from Bangkok on Bangkok Airways, but this last is a very expensive flight.The Singapore link is recommended. There are lots of cheap accommodation in Siem Reap from $5 per day upwards.
Siem Reap's premier restaurant. For a taste of what the colonial lifestyle might have been like before the guns started firing take a pew on the veranda in this old French villa . The menu is extensive, tasty and not that expensive, and Angelina Jolie can't be wrong about the cocktails (they even named one after her).
If you really like it, there's a guesthouse too.
No. 341, 50 m north-west of the Old Market, Svay Dangkom, Mondul I;
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