After 7 hours by night bus, we arrive in Siem Reap at 5 a.m., very tired but at the same time very happy to be here and ready to visit the ancient monuments declared World Heritage Site. We reach easily the Khmer complex by tuk tuk (check the infos and prices at bottom page) after crossing the traffic of the city and we begin this tour inside the first and most famous temple, Angkor Wat: built around 12th Century, when King Suryavarman II, likely, wanted this building with mausoleum function and to be venerated after his death. This assumption is based on the fact that the main entrance is located in the east area, as in the funerary temples. Every year million of people, among tourists and pilgrims, come to this place to observe and enjoy the beauty of this magnificent place. At the entrance we head towards the heart of complex across the bridge, built over the huge moat and where there are long statues of the Snake Naga, the snake with seven heads. A great movement around us and I really can’t believe how many people visit the area incessantly!
The City Temple was originally built to venerate Vishnu, and it is clearly seen for the beautiful sculptures carved on the walls, which represent legends related to Hinduism; Only many years later, around the15th century, the building was changed to Theravada Buddhism Temple and nowadays is still one of the most important pilgrimage destination as well as one of the largest temple in the world! Angkor, like most of the ancient temples, is an astronomical center, where during the spring equinox the sun rises behind the central dome and this makes it more mysterious and fascinating. The immensity of this site is amazing and, besides Angkor Wat, we spend the following three days to visit other temples very famous for their beauty and also for recent movies: the sites of Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdey, the fascinating site of Angkor Thom, Preah Khan and the Preah Neak Pean, Banteay Thom, Banteay Srei, Pre Rup, Ta Son and Baray east with the oriental Mebon.
To enjoy Angkor and appreciate its art before getting lost inside the temple complex, it is recommended to get a guide outside the site, for just a few dollars! After long day inside Angkor Wat, we wait the sunset sitting in front of the two ponds, observing the games of light, with an incredible atmosphere, while people around us is taking pics in a religious silence!
Entrance fees and infos: One day Ticket 20$; Three days Ticket 40$; Seven days Ticket 60$ (must be used on consecutive days).
The Angkor Complex is very big so you need time to plan very well your tour inside this amazing heritage. Visiting hours are from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m., except for Banteay Srey (5 p.m.) and Kbal Spean (3 p.m.). To visit Phnom Kulem (20 $), Koh Ker (10$) and Beng Melea (5$) you need to pay separate entrance. Important for woman: you need to cover shoulders and knees to visit the temples, they are pretty restricted, so remember to put some sweater in your pack.
How to reach Angkor: The main site, Angkor Wat, it is just 15- 20 km from the city and very easy to reach. Anyway you must plan very well the tour because Angkor Archeological Park, including forest area, is around 400 Km2, so you need a transport to visit all temples.
Usually the most suitable way is by tuk tuk and the price it is up to you and how good you are to haggle: generally 6 $ one way and around 15 $ all day.
Bike is the cheapest way to reach Angkor Wat, around 3 – 5 $ per day, but it not very safe especially after the sunset for a lack of lighting streets.
Motorbike is not very comfortable and you can use it if you are alone. The cost is around 5 – 10 $ per day.
Taxi is the most expensive transport and it will cost you around 20 – 30 $.