I previously said this on my Instagram account (@journeyingjames) and thought of republishing it here for those who doesn’t have IG. This blog is part of my #100DaysSEA journey where I travelled around Southeast Asia for 100 days spending as little as possible. I still recount the journey and you can review the day-to-day snippets by checking out my Instagram. 🙂
Here’s my 10 Travel Tips When Exploring Angkor Wat Complex
1. Do wear comfortable clothes. I see lots of European backpackers carry 40-60L of backpack because it is filled with clothes they can’t even wear on a hot summer day in Southeast Asia. I usually just wear a think long pants which I bought in Thailand before. I also wear flipflops, I saw a lot of tourists wearing sneakers. But please don’t wear leather shoes or like what most Koreans I saw who wear highheels. It is recommended to wear a somewhat proper clothing because these are temples and Khmer are keen in giving respect to these shrines.
2. Don’t wear shorts or sleeveless for women. These are temples and they are strict in implementing their guidelines. You are even denied entrance if you are wearing short shorts and sleeveless. I saw some temple gates where people offer “dress/pants for rent” for those who came unprepared.
3. Bring water bottle. It is soooo freakin’ hot. Remember it’s Asia and walking for miles and miles it will tire you down and dehydration is easy to get especially if you partied the night before at Angkor What? Which by the way, I recommend you go around 11pm. It is near Pub Street where all backpackers go to get wasted.
4. Put on sunscreen or bring umbrella. Depending on the season you go, it is either raining or very very hot. Yes, take care of your silky soft skin, my dear.
5. Read about the history of Angkor before going to appreciate the temples and carvings. There are cheap books being sold in entrances of major temple. But save yourselves some bucks and try to read online. It is always better to have some kind of idea before going there. I would also listed to some tour guides on some temple chambers. It’s for free as the one he is leading pays for it. 🙂 Just don’t follow anywhere they go, that’s creepy. And please, don’t pet the monkeys, monkeys bites can kill too.
Do you know that the difference between Angkor Wat (wat means temple so calling it Angkor Wat temple is repetitive) and The Bayon?
Angkor was built early 12th century and the Bayon late in the same century. Angkor is Hindu architecture thus the mountain-like design while The Bayon has the Buddha faces indicating of course Buddhism King Jayavarman VII was Buddhist and made it the state religion. Angkor was built by King Suryavarman II (surya means sun and varman means armor or shield, that’s why I’m connecting this to the use of the sunrise as the background of his temple) while Jayavarman VII (Jaya means victory) built The Bayon and most of the temple in the complex. Hundreds of monuments were made in just a 40-year period meaning the architecture are somewhat inferior because they were done in haste.
6. Visit the small temples too. One, it is quiet. Two, you would have great finds there. It is where your imagination will be on the go. It is amazing to travel back in time and dream of how the Ancient Khmer kingdom fanned their glory.
7. Chill on the famous ones like Angkor, Ta Prohm and The Bayon. Relax and take it easy. Unless you are there as a archaeologists or somekind of a paid researcher, just take it easy. Take a few photos and savor the place. And please, put away the selfie stick (just because I’m not rally a fan of it).
8. Buy the 3-day pass. 1 day is too short to explore and appreciate the huge complex. What I did was to visit other attractions in Siem Reap in between the temple visits because I don’t want to experience “temple burnout.” I can tell you, after two days, you would say, temple nanaman so phase yourself well. 1-day pass is $20, 3-day pass is $50. Free for locals. I tried going inside pretending to be Khmer, it didn’t worked out.
9. Fully charge your camera and phone. Also find time to turn it off and just observe. Stop taking 100 selfies. No one is interested in seeing all that sh*t except you.
10. Go to Bantay Srei. That’s the most elegant in my opinion. Bantay Srei when translated means “Citadel of Beauty.” This is the most intricate of stone carvings I have ever seen after visiting more than 20 temples in my stay there. Compared to Angkor, it is small but archaeologists call this “the jewel of Khmer art” because they used the rare red and pink sandstone for the temple. It is even believed that the reliefs so delicate only women could carve. The only major temple not built by the king this one is older than The Bayon and Angkor Wat. Less tourity too. Age: 1049 years old. Yes more than a thousand years!
PS. “Wat” means temple in Khmer. Khmer (pronounced “Khamay”) is what Cambodian locals are called. Like Filipinos in the Philippines.