Someone told me Angkor Wat was one of the Seven Wonders of the world. As I tried to figure out what the other 6 were, I ended up looking it up. What did I learn? Well there are a lot of lists of “Seven Wonders of the World” and Angkor Wat was not on any of the lists. However, there was a list of places commonly called “The Eighth Wonder of the World” and that’s where I found Angkor Wat (along with 100 other places). Conclusion: The world has a lot of wonders and marvels. To shorten the list to Seven is a waste of time as there are still way too many places that arise questions.
Needless to say, to view one of the world’s wonders should be exciting for anyone. Angkor Wat is the main temple built in the 12th century. There are a series of other temples in the area as well with their own characteristics that are worth seeing too. You can buy a 1 day pass for $20usd or a 3 day pass for $40usd. We opted for the one day pass and believe that unless you are truly passionate about seeing everything, one day is all you need.
First, you need to decide what you want to do and see. We decided that we wanted to see Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Phrom, and Angkor Wat. This is essentially known as the “small tour” and our “resort guesthouse” (they don’t know what they are) arranged a tuk tuk for us saying that we could find one for less on our own but if we’re unhappy with their driver, we can complain to them. This assurance seems like a fair deal to me. We agreed on the price of $15 for the day.
We met our driver at 9am the following morning and and he had a cooler in the tuk tuk with 3L of water and a big block of ice for us (something we didn’t see in any of the other tuk tuks).
We stop to buy our tickets first, we paid and they take our picture and the lady points us away from the ticket booth. We hop back in the tuk tuk and we’re asked for our tickets… We weren’t given tickets. Well the lady pointed us out, didn’t mention we needed to wait for our actual hard copy tickets… We look like idiots. Well Kristi looked dumb, I played it pretty cool.
Armed with our tickets, we head into the complex with the hundreds of other people flooding in (it’s gross!). I hope that all these people don’t ruin this experience for us. We drive pass Angkor Wat for the “awe effect” and head to Bayon first. Getting into the entrance behind all of the tour groups was hell but once we were in, everyone spread out and we went off exploring.
Bayon is located inside Angkor Thom and it’s really cool. Everywhere we’ve been to see temples and ruins, you need to stay off of them. Bayon you climb up and walk through it like it’s no big deal.
After an hour, we hopped back in the tuk tuk and drove 300 meters down the road where we walked around Angkor Thom. We followed the wall around the back and out to the market area where you can buy bottled water at 4x the normal price and buy cheaply made souvenirs at special mark ups just for you. “Hello sir! Someting shopping for you?”
Ta Phrom was next which I believe was used to film the Tomb Raider movie. This one is cool to see because of all the massive trees that are growing on it.
Entering through the West Gate and worked our way through where our Tuk Tuk driver met us outside of the East Gate.
We grabbed a quick lunch that inside the park wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be and our food was really good.
We arrived at Angkor Wat around 1:30pm which was surprisingly great timing. Most people visit in the morning for sunrise and stick around early to beat the heat. Then they come back later in the afternoon as it’s a good place to watch the sunset. We caught the in between time.
The sheer size of Angkor Wat is both fascinating and intimidating. You walk up an impressively long and grand walkway to the entrance.
Then once you enter, you have another equally long and impressive walkway up to the temple entrance.
The presence is unlike anything I’ve ever felt.
You look out and all you see is jungle.
I can only imagine how amazing this place was when it was first built.
We finished around 3pm and headed back to our guesthouse. Part of me wishes I had a guide but at the same time, it was nice to have the freedom to go and see whatever we felt like with nothing to hold us back.
You can also go for sunrise or sunset but the weather can play a big role in how nice it ends up. We’ve seen our share of sunrises and sunsets so we decided to skip over the massive crowds.
Angkor Wat was everything I wanted and more. It was the perfect amount of time for Kristi and I to see what we wanted and get out. Someone told us that they did the 3 day package and the more they saw, the less special it all was. I think we saw the perfect amount. I’m also happy that we saved Angkor Wat for last. If I were to do it again, I would find a Tuk Tuk Driver with knowledge to give us small back stories on the area in between temples. I don’t want a full tour at each temple but a small history or story to go with each one would have been perfect. With the amount of Tuk Tuk drivers in Siem Reap, I’m sure you can find someone to do this.
We stayed at the “Relax and Resort Angkor Guesthouse” about 5km from the old market and Pub Street ($2 tuk tuk 1 way). The rooms were cheap and large, they included a local breakfast and FREE LAUNDRY SERVICE DAILY. Definitely worth checking out!
We have a bus to Battambang tomorrow. Stay tuned and stay classy.