Angkor Wat

How to visit Angkor Wat, ALONE…

Cambodia’s first destination for tourists – and maybe South East Asia’s main attraction as well is undoubtedly the Angkor Temples, near Siem Reap. This unique gathering of temples is situated a few kilometers north from Siem Reap, the capital of the Siem Reap Province in North West Cambodia, and is the largest area of religious monuments on earth being approximately 400km² in area. Most of the Angkor temples were built during the peak of the Khmer Empire, between the 9th and the 15th centuries. Some of them represent real technical challenges and all are definitely architectural masterpieces.

Best Value Hotels in Cambodia

flickr image by Hector Garcia

Angkor Wat, the most famous of all, is carved and covered in low relief on all of its walls and over its entire surface. The famous Churning of the Sea of Milk gallery is no less than a 49-meter long carved low relief representing one of the main Hindu mythological themes.

But not only Angkor Wat awaits you when you want to dive in the most exquisite amazement of the Khmer culture. Many other temples situated around the main one keep many other surprises in store… The Bayon, with its 216 gigantic King Jayavarman VII’s faces, sits quietly and silently watching towards the four compass directions. Ta Phrom with its massive trees and roots literally strangling the stones seems to rise up out of the jungle. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King stretch out incredible sculptures over hundreds of meters. All of these are a feast for your eyes.

Terrace of the Elephants

flickr image by Yinghai

Angkor is also one of the most visited places in the world. Each year more than three million tourists are herded into the site, stepping on and crowding around the millenary stones of the temples. If you rather taste your culture in a different way far from the madding crowds, and if you feel like you would prefer to experience the amazement all by yourself, and not with a throng of people, there are a few tricks to be used!

The early bird catches the worm… Wake up early, around 4.30am. Grab your bicycle and scoot down Angkor’s road under the early morning sky and its remaining stars. Check in at the site’s check point, and get to Angkor Wat before everyone else. You will probably see a few tourists already gathering on the left of the temple inside the main wall. They are waiting for the sun to rise behind Angkor Wat. Do not make the same mistake, and step directly inside the temple. At 5.30, you will be ALONE to visit the whole place, you will have the perfect pictures without the crowds on them, and you will be just on time to experience the sunrise on the eastern walls of the temple, colouring them all in a gorgeous flaming red.

If you really want to experience a unique amazement and you feel like you don’t want to share it with hundreds of buzzing tourists, you can have Angkor Wat all for yourself… The only trick is to think differently from all the people around you, and to be earlier! And this means to be respectful of the world’s heritage of Angkor, not stepping on the stones or climbing on forbidden places, because you would be part of the slow and insidious erosion of a unique site on earth that needs to be well preserved.


Date posted: 25th May, 2011

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