Today was one of my favorite sight-seeing days of all time. Angkor Wat is an amazing complex of temples and buildings (154 square miles to be exact) that you could really spend days going through but I only had the one.
The cost? About $20 for entry and about $20 for a tuk-tuk driver for the day.
If you are in Siem Reap, the easiest way to do this is just book through an agency in town or ask any tuk-tuk driver to take you.
Most tours start in the dark of the morning so tourists can get there to watch the sunrise over the temples. You’ll see a line of Cambodian tuk-tuks snaking through the road in the dark as you enter.
We arrived, exhausted, and watched the sunrise. The viewpoint looking at the main templates was crowded with tourists who eagerly awaited that perfect shot.
Unfortunately, the sunrise that day wasn't especially colorful and rather than exploding in a photo frenzie, the tourists, just waited until it was light and then we started on our way.
At first, there were a lot of people. It felt a little crowded. I was there in the summer which isn't there high season necessarily, but still, there were quite a few of us in the first few temples.
The cool thing about Angkor Wat is that there is so much real estate there that if you want to see something more secluded, you easily can.
Ask your tuk-tuk driver to take you to a less known temple and explore there for a while before spending more time in the main area. It seemed to me that the bulk of tourists showed up for the sunrise and as the day got hot there were fewer and fewer.
Seeing it on your own and having a chance to really appreciate the stone carvings is completely worthwhile.
I was struck by how intricate the carvings were and the stories they told. You always see the pictures of the trees growing out the temple, but not the craftsmanship.
Both were fascinating to see.
The entire place had a feel like being dropped in an Indiana Jones film. Actually, it is where the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie is set but I haven’t seen that one.
Anyway, despite being a big tourist destination it still seems relatively peaceful because the site is so enormous that you aren’t really ever crowded. You can hear the monkeys and crickets over the tuks tuks.
It’s incredible to see how nature has taken over. There are trees perching themselves on top of buildings and moss is coloring stones green. It’s absolutely beautiful.
There’s no denying that the site is completely falling apart in some areas but that adds to the charm as well. It feels old, haunted and kind of mysterious.
As a girl alone, it doesn’t get creepy though because just when you feel alone you turn the corner and see crowds of Asian tourists taking group pictures with their iPads.
I absolutely loved it.
I also feel inspired to watch Tomb Raider.