she makes her way through the shadows of foliage, carefully stepping over the roots… with each step, the trees thin out and a glimpse of the temple is revealed… at last she reaches an opening of the forest
the trees and sunlight engulfs what’s left of the structure that’s now towering over her… to her surprise she’s welcomed by a beautifully old structure- oh the grandeur of this temple! the carved pillars, sandstones, door frames, walls all portray some form of folktale and historical event…
no words to describe,
the entrance is screaming for her to step in and get lost,
to explore & wander to her heart’s fullest content…
and so she steps in & a d v e n t u r e s…..
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The city of Siem Reap is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site and so staying here gives perfect access to the remarkable ancient temples whilst allowing visitors to experience the city life. My three nights were spent at Khemara Angkor Hotel & Spa.
- Angkor 101: Visiting the Angkor National Museum would be a nice way to kick off your temple run 😉 This museum boasts in 7 galleries: Khmer Civilization, Religion and Beliefs, The Great Khmer Kings, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Story from Stones, and Ancient Costume. I can’t say the museum is too informative (in terms of having information boards) and so I’d recommend renting the audio guide. The 3D model of Angor Wat was what impressed me the most. It gives light to the incredible engineering and architecture of the world’s largest Hindu temple.
+ take a few minutes to watch the introductory videos offered inside the galleries. They are available in 7 languages: Khmer, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, English, French, and Thai.
- Early bird gets the worm: Angkor Wat opens at 5:00 a.m. which translates to “sleep EARLY the night before”. You wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to view sunrise over this iconic site. Having said that, I didn’t get to see it but do look forward to visiting again.
- Slow down: I spent half a day at the Angkor Wat temple (temple alone), making my own from the East entrance, through the temple, and then exiting the West entrance. Angkor Wat closes at 6 p.m. daily and so if you hurry you’d be able to catch sunset too! I could’ve spent another day here and at other major sites such as the legendary Bayon. I could spend 2-3 days at the Angkor Wat complex exploring every nook and cranny but remember that there’s still dozens of temple ruins scattered across the Angkor Archaeological Park. Plan wisely, mark down the key temples you don’t want to miss, then work your itinerary around those points.
There’s so much to take in and learn regarding the Khmer empire, its culture, history and mythology behind these temples. Hiring a guide or simply reading up on it before visiting or dropping by the museum makes all the difference! Once you’re there, just s l o w d o w n.
+ pay much attention to the details of the architecture and art. It’s impossible to describe the splendour of this place; you’d have to see it in person.
+ ruins and temples aren’t for everyone and so if you’re not a fan, a day at the Angkor Wat complex would probably suffice.
- Heat and humidity: March to May are considered Cambodia’s driest and hottest months and have tourists melting into a pool of sweat. Having said that, I nearly died under the scorching July sun. Luckily the sporadic rain showers helped with cooling the hot, humid air. Pack light, airy clothing and without question, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat and insect repellent are mandatory! The best months to visit this tropical country are from December to February because the temperature during this time is the coolest.
- Small bills: Bring lots of small denomination bills as they’ll come in handy for tipping and small purchases.
Good to Know
- Dress code: The APSARA National Authority has enforced rules in regards to the dress code within the premise of this national park which in fact is still an active spiritual site for Buddhists. After several nude incidents at the park last year, visitors are now asked to cover their shoulders and knees and those who do not comply will be denied access into the site.
Treatsfor kids: Children in Cambodia attend half a day of school: 7-11 a.m. morning session or 1-5 p.m. afternoon session. While some children attend tutoring classes, many others have work to do after class. There will be many children, young and old, selling an array of souvenirs near the entrances of the temple ruins or begging on the streets of Siem Reap. APSARA Authority discourages buying from these children street sellers or even giving candy or money to them as it perpetuates their lifestyle and dependance on others. Instead, visitors can consider giving to organizations and charities that support children’s education.
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Cambodia has been such a treat! Until next time ♥