The Ancient ruins in 3 days
------> Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
While walking through the MET in NYC, I came upon the Cambodian Ancient Ruins display. I just smiled to myself- thinking back to my time in Cambodia, and how incredible these ancient ruins really are. Museums are wonderful to help preserve history, but what better way to really grasp and understand history than to visit these sites that we still have access to today? Siem Reap, a city in Cambodia, holds the largest religious complex in the world, known as Angkor Wat. The temple complex originated as a Hindu temple, and in later years, turned into a Buddhist temple. The surrounding temples in the complex are comprised of both Hindu and Buddhist temples.
Angkor Wat requires about 3 days (or 1 full day and 2 half days) to complete. You can purchase a 1 day pass, or a 3 day pass. Once in the complex, I highly recommend hiring a tuk tuk driver, or hire a private air conditioned van if that’s an option for your budget. The complex is huge, and very spread out. Hiring a private guide is also helpful if you are interested in learning about the different temples.
Siem Reap is also worth exploring – check out the local night market, enjoy some Cambodian dishes, and watch a native Cambodian dance show. Artisans d’angkor is also a pretty cool store selling local crafts, spices, textiles, etc. – but they do have a store at the Siem Reap airport as well, so do not rush to the store in town if you are on a tight schedule. If you are traveling during summer, plan to take an afternoon nap/swim to escape the heat.
Here are the temples we visited:
I highly recommend visiting all of these – and more if you have time; but I feel that these temples gave us a well rounded understanding of both the Hindu & Buddhist temples.
1. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, the most famous temple in the complex is astounding. Whether you come into the complex from the back (we were able to enter without any other tourists around us), or from the front with magnificent Reflection Pool, you will find the detail on this temple to be simply astounding. Plan on spending a couple of hours here – as this temple is by far the most crowded, and largest. The wait to go up the stairs to the top may also take up some time.
Take a photo by the Reflection Pool AND Watch the sunrise over the Angkor Wat Temple
2. Angkor Thom & The Bayon
The design and carvings on this temple may actually be my favorite — the face carvings are just incredible.
The bridge you pass over to get into this area of the complex is worth hopping out for a photo opp. as well! You will only need to spend about an hour here.
3. Ta Prohm
Often referred to as “The Jungle Temple” and notable for it’s appearance in Tomb Raider, this temple is definitely worth checking out! This temple reminds me of a scene from a children’s story book – with giant mystical trees wrapping around the buildings.
This often forgotten temple was used as a hospital in ancient days. While the temple requires a bit of a walk and may be slightly out of the way, it is a temple not to miss – and the chances of you being the only visitor are high….making your experience that much more surreal.
2015 VISA Requirements for the USA: A tourist Visa is required – it can be purchased online at Cambodian Visa for $37. Bring 2 wallet size passport photos to staple onto the visa.
Malaria is present in Cambodia, however is not common at the Angkor Wat complex. We did not have any issues – even walking through the jungles to get to some of the temples.