Trip Report: Angkor Wat and the Angkor Temple Complex – Southeast Asia’s Crown Jewel

Yesterday I discussed a few possibilities as to how to get to the Angkor Wat temple complex from the city of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

What did I do? Well, I decided to do two of the aforementioned options. I knew I wanted to explore the temples a lot, so I purchased the 3-day pass, even knowing I’d likely only use two of them. My first day, I hired the tuk-tuk driver from my hotel to take me around and show me some of the highlights. The price was $15, and he took me to three of the main temples, Ta Prohm, Angkor Thom, and Angkor Wat, spending almost 7 hours with me. When we returned, I handed him $20. When I said I didn’t need change, the look on his face was akin to that of a child on Christmas morning. It really put into perspective the lives of the Cambodians, and how fortunate we are.

Having the lay of the land and having seen a few highlights on day one, I decided to rent a motorbike on day two and go at it on my own. At $7, this was a very affordable option, and once you get the first 2 miles out of town, the roads are pretty clear and easy. Not only was this an affordable and flexible option, but also a very fun option! The roads in the temple complex are heavily wooded, and it’s like driving through a tunnel of trees.

I started the day by exploring some new temples which I had not seen the first day: Ta Keo, Banteay Kdai, Srah Srang, and Preah Kahn, before returning to Angkor Wat to catch dusk. All in all, I had the bike for about 7 hours, drove about 60km around the complex, and put a little over one liter of gas in at the end, which cost about $1. A grand total of $8 to explore at my own leisure, but I felt like I got so much more out of it because I already had the lay of the land from my driver the previous day.

The temples are absolutely spectacular. More than just temples, they were meeting places, universities, and even whole cities. The detail of the wall carvings are exquisite, and you can still see strong remnants of the generations who lived, worked and worshipped here. The temples are absolutely worth one full day, and you could easily spend three full days exploring and still not come close to seeing everything that they have to offer.

Many people choose to get up at 4:30am to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat. As I am not a morning person, I opted to skip that option, but did get a great dusk shot, which will be the very bottom picture below.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from exploring the Angkor temple complex.

Ta Prohm:

Banteay Kdai:

Preah Kahn:

Angkor Thom:

Angkor Wat:

Michael Prodanovich is a contributor to Point Me to the Plane, and author of The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel

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Comments

  1. Seems like a good approach doing the motorbike the second day. Thinking of going there next year – not sure if I can talk the wife into the motorbikes option but regardless, looks like an amazing time!

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