The Temples of Angkor are the top attraction in Cambodia. The Khmers are fiercely proud of their temples, and particularly of the largest religious building in the world, Angkor Wat.
There are so many temples, that it can become a little overwhelming. And it is pretty easy to get “templed-out“.
There is plenty of literature surrounding Angkor Wat, most of it implying that you’re not a “proper traveller” unless you spend 3 days looking around the temples.
I will be spending the next 500 words or so telling you why this is utter hogwash.
Firstly, the temples are all 5 miles from Siem Reap, and most are further. This means that you have to travel 10 miles before you even see a bloody temple.
Let’s take cycling as an example;
1. It was 38 degrees, with 77% humidity. Then you have to cycle anywhere between 10 and 40 miles to see the temples you want.
2.Then you have to walk around the temples, including up and down some seriously steep stairs.
3.Then there is the traffic to deal with. To be fair, it’s better than most Asian traffic on the way around the temples, but it gets a bit hairy closer to town.
You have been warned.
Now let’s talk about a Tuk Tuk;
Much more relaxing, although riding in one will actually cause your spine to be relocated just to the left of your right ear.
Much more expensive – a one day trip starts at $15 for the main, central temples. This increases as you tag-on different temples. We paid $25 (including tip) for an evening trip to the temples, and then the next day from sunrise to sunset.
We were able to see all the temples we wanted in one day. Still, that day cost us $65 (£40) before we’d even eaten anything, or paid for our room.
They’re expensive days out, these temples!
Still, we saw the following temples, including sunrise and sunset at Angkor Wat;
My personal top 3 were Ta Prohm, Bayon and Banteay Srei.
I liked them all for different reasons; Banteay Srei for it’s art and carvings, Ta Prohm because of the jungle just growing out of the temple, and Bayon because of all the heads!
We also took a trip to the Cambodia Landmine Museum on the way to Banteay Srei. Although the museum raises money for the care of people affected by landmines, most of the museum is spent discussing Aki Ra (the guy who set it up), and his old techniques for disarming bombs. The museum is on the drab side, and it’s very repetitive. Still, we went and paid our $3 each.
The temples of Angkor are awesome, and amazing. It would be a brave person to miss out on them. But you don’t need three days!