The comparison of just reading about the place in High School and actually visiting this wonder is like watching Captain America and have Chris Evans pounce on you in real life. Its unbelievable!
As I stood in front of the amazing sight, I was suuper excited to get close and check out the entire place!
In the beginning, we really wanted to rent a bike and cycle around the entire place, going temple to temple. However, when we asked the hotel owner for advice, he strongly recommended that we hire a tuk tuk for a day as the size of the Angkor Wat temples are not to be underestimated, and we wouldn't have enough time to cover most place on our 1-day pass alone.
In the end, we decided to trust in the local's advise and BOY was I glad we did! The place is HUGE and in the end, we only managed to explore 3 out of the 8 major temples around Angkor. We hired a tuk tuk driver for the entire day at USD 12, making it about RM 48 for the two of us. Very cheap, considering that the guy will take us to any temple around the area, and he will wait for us all day.
First thing we did upon arrival on our first day was to purchase a Temple Pass for the next day. The best part about it is that you can already visit the temples from 4.45pm onwards and the temples closes around 7pm. So always make sure you purchase them a day before your actual visit!
Take heed of the rules! Most important is to always have your Temple Pass with you and to dress modestly. Otherwise, you may risk being turned away.
Naturally, we took advantage of the 2 hours and visited the temple of Phnom Bakheng, known for its stunning sunset view.
It was a cloudy day, and the tourists are aplenty, so we didn't really get to see the sunset in the end. Still, it was a stunning place, and we explored every nook and cranny around the place.
On the actual day of our visit the next day, the first place we visited was naturally the temple of Angkor Wat!
Hooo my gawd! So many Bollywood moments going on in this temple. Like, you can pop in and out in any part of the temple and I swear it looks like a Bollywood scene.
Even though its not in India, and yes, I know Bollywood scenes usually happen around trees.
Casually pretending I'm just chilling in the temple, unaware of having my pic taken...
If I dressed like the women depicted in the temples, am I still allowed to enter?
Hello from the backside!
Throughout my time in Angkor Wat alone, I was mostly in awe of the intricacy of every part of this temple. Everything was beautifully hand carved, depicting scenes of the Gods and war. Like this wall alone. This wall is covered in such detailed carvings and its all around the temple.
Like, how long did it take the people to do all that? Its amazing!
We spent hours walking through the temple, and that is only Angkor Wat alone. Despite the lengthy walks in the temple, we still didn't have much time to check out the entire place! I already walked at least 10,000 steps that morning,
The one downside, though is that despite the highly intricate and detailed design of this place, there are no ancient toilets to be found. So after 4 hours of keeping it in, we finally decided to take the lengthy walk outside the temple, before dining at one of the nearby restaurants for lunch.
Food was okay, its best to ask the locals on the recommended dishes, but don't expect too much on the quality of the food as the surrounding restaurants are mostly catered to the tourists. Price wise, I would say its not expensive, but its not cheap either. Dishes costs around USD 5-8 each.
Our next destination after lunch was to visit the Bayon Temple. On the way there, we were greeted by a stone causeway, which featured a row of 54 stone figures on both sides.
In the red corner, we have the Demons, in the blue corner, we've got the Gods guarding the gates!
The bridge was overlooking a river, and it leads to the other temples in front. Our driver had dropped us down to walk along the bridge before picking us up again on the other side.
The Bayon temple was yet another stunning monument to visit, with lots of stairs to climb, and little passages all around. Get ready to work your legs!
With all the climbing, walking and exploring, we eventually came to the point where we spent most of our time just chillin in the temple. Because it was so HOT, and we were super tired.
Oh yeah, another top tip is to always bring a large bottle of water. Bring lots of water if you can, because you will need lots of it.
Apparently, there's a term for excessive temple hopping. Its called 'Temple Fatigue', where eventually you're just seeing way too many temples in a certain period of time. Of course, we've only visited 2 temples haha, so I don't think we qualified for that.
But to those who actually bought a 7-day pass, kudos to you.
Of course, aside from being in awe of the wonders of a world heritage, you can trust a man to find a dirty joke in EVERYTHING.
"Look! There's a Lion's asshole."
"This tree looks like a vagina!"
This one has a real asshole carved in, and it has BALLS!
At 3pm, we almost felt like collapsing in the hotel and just call it a day, when our driver suggested we visit one last temple of Ta Phrom. Apparently, its one of those famous temples where Angelina Jolie's movie, 'Tomb Raider' was filmed.
We knew that we were already there and when will we ever come back? So we agreed to visit one last temple before calling it a day. I was glad we went after all.
What I find most fascinating about this temple is how nature has slowly claimed this temple once again. All around, we saw large trees growing from the temple walls, and giant roots claiming the land.
Interesting to imagine what would the world look like if humans suddenly disappeared...
Best part of this temple is the fact that it has no stairs and it is a one-storey building! Yay!
At last, we managed to call it a day and I can say for the both of us that it was quite an eye opening experience and its one of those once in a lifetime kinda thing.
If you plan on visiting Angkor Wat anytime soon, here's a few things I've learned from this trip:
1. Even though it is a tourist area, the temples of Angkor is still considered a holy land to the locals. Respect that, and remember to dress modestly. I've seen a white guy get turned away because he was wearing a singlet to the temple. And to clarify, he was certainly wearing pants, its just that he was turned away because of his sexy arms.
2. Read up on the place. Just like stalking your new match on Tinder before a date, you gotta get to know the place a little better to truly appreciate what you see. A day before, we got to visit the Angkor National Museum for $12 per person. We got to know the culture and the temples a little better to understand the meaning behind the carvings.
Although I must say, some of their legends are pretty damn trippy...
3. The sun and mosquitoes are aplenty, so make sure you take preventative action for that.
4. You have the option to either cycle, or hire a driver around Angkor. Of course, cycling would definitely be the cheaper option, but if you're there for a day, best not to torture yourself to see everything, so just hire a driver instead. Your feet will thank you.
5. You'll always find that there will be people, including children, selling souvenirs. If you're genuinely interested in making a purchase, buy from an adult, and not the children. I know it sounds like a terrible thing, but you are honestly not doing these kids a favor by supporting child labor. There are plenty of NGOs who will help them in the proper way.
6. Finally, have fun! You don't have to visit everything, so just chill out once in a while. The best part of not being in a tour group is that you get to take your time and enjoy the sights.
If you wanna know what we did during our entire stay in Siem Reap, click here!
Anne is the author and founder of this blog. She likes to write about current issues, travels, food and the general struggles of a millennial.