Results 11-15of 15 Reviews
Vancouver, British Columbia
November 29, 2005
Things to keep in Mind: Broadly speaking, there are two types of temples around Siem Reap, monastic complexes and temple mountains. Try to include both types in your itinerary. Also, some temples have been restored and some have been left basically as they were first discovered. Again, try to visit examples of both. Finally, the temples were built over a 400-year period, and the building style and materials evolved over this period, so try and visit both early and late period examples. Angkor Wat and Bayon (in Angkor Thom) are both unique in their own right and are must-see's, no matter what your planned route. Try and include any sights that are dependant on the weather as early on in a multi-day visit as possible. i.e. don't leave a sunset climb of Phnom Bakheng until the last day just to have it rained out. Try and visit the temple mountains early in the day, when it’s cooler. Steep climbs are required, and there is little shade at the top. Visiting the monastic complexes can be done through midday as there is plenty of shade.
Before you go: Pick up a guidebook that details the bas-relief carved at Angkor Wat and Bayon; it will be invaluable. If you decide to use a guide, speak to them first. The level of English fluency and knowledge varied dramatically among the ones I saw at the temples. Also, when booking a driver, make sure he understands your itinerary, as they may expect additional money to visit some of the farther out temples or for a very long day that goes from before sunrise to after sunset.
Considering all the above factors, my ideal route (and close to the one I followed) would be: Start the day at Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise from the north lotus pond. Move immediately on to Angkor Thom (you’ll comeback to Angkor Wat in the afternoon, when the bas-reliefs are better lit.) for a quick walk along the Terraces and chance to admire the South Gate. After that, head out to Banteay Srey, stopping at Ta Keo, Pre Rup, and East Mebon on your way out. Then come back towards Angkor Thom and do a long walk From Sras Srang through Banteay Kdei and Ta Prohm. This should take a couple of hours and carry you through the midday heat. Have your driver meet you at the west end of Ta Prohm so that you don’t have to walk back. From here, move to the bas-reliefs at Bayon and Angkor Wat, but still take the time to enjoy the temples in their own right. Then end the day with a climb up Phnom Bakheng to watch the sun light up Angkor Wat as it sets.
From journal Angkor Wat in a Day
by Miss Bels
Mokpo, United Kingdom
August 13, 2004
It was built as a Hindu temple and decorated accordingly, the statues of Buddha being added at a later stage. We went before the sun came up and bought our temple passes for our time in Siem Reap for $40 for a three-day pass. One day passes are available for $20 and all passes give you access to all the temples in the area.
It is possible to climb all over the temple presently. Though there is a great view from the top it is a bit hairy climbing back down again- look for the staircase with the new addition of concrete even steps when you are trying to get back down.
Overall, from the grandness of the moat to the sight of the temple appearing majestically through the haze of the dawn, Angkor Wat is everything that you imagine it to be and more.
From journal Temples and crocodiles
April 23, 2004
However, there were many monks sitting and chatting with tourists in the central tower. I met an 18-year-old monk who insisted that I was Japanese and kept on speaking Japanese to me. He apparently teaches Japanese to the other monks. It was quite amusing.
I really enjoyed sitting outside Angkor Wat. Riding a bike there can be physically tiring if you are not fit. I tried it and it almost killed me. I also didn't want to my bike to get stolen so I sat with it by the lake. Then a bunch of Cambodian men/boys came and sat and chatted with me. It's nice to be traveling alone and watching a wonder of the world without being disturbed!
I went to visit Angkor Wat during Khmer New Year. There were so many Cambodians there. It was too crowded!! But the wat is still very impressive and looking at it every time just hits me how beautiful it was, and with the breeze how good it felt to be there.
I could have sat there reading forever!
From journal Cambodia -- SiemReap/Angkor
by Adam Stein
San Francisco, California
February 20, 2003
As the sky behind the temple lightened, I was one of the first to break away from the silent crowd and walk down the ancient stone walkway toward the heart of the temple. As I mounted the steps at the temple base, flanked on either side by massive stone balustrades carved with the shapes of seven-headed serpents, I thought to myself, "This very moment, I am ruining hundreds of photographs."
The temples themselves, and the jungles with which they seamlessly blend, are stunningly atmospheric. In this irony-soaked age, it can sometimes be hard to remove one's tongue from one's cheek long enough to muster the sincerity necessary to describe a moment of genuine wonder. I'm on vacation, so I'm not even going to try. My guidebook had an apt quote on the subject, something along the lines of Angkor Wat being like an epic poem, grand in structure, exquisite in detail, etc. I concur. Visit Angkor Wat. It's spectacular.
At the top of the Bayon, a temple famed for the dozens of massive carved faces that gaze down with unworldly smiles from its heights, I watched a British hippie explain to a monk that they shared a spiritual heritage.
"I don't go to church, and I visit a lot of temples, so I guess I'm mostly a Buddhist," the hippie offered, spiritually. Radiating a transcendant love for the universe and all its inhabitants, the monk hit the hippie up for some money.
As with most major tourist destinations, if you wander a little bit off the main circuit, you can find yourself utterly alone. With the aid of my bicycle, I soon found myself on top of Phnom Bok (phnom means "hill"), the site of a small unreconstructed ruin. Crumbingly statuary lies in the tall grass on top of Phnom Bok. Heaps of dragon heads and shattered female nudes are covered with blossoms from the frangipani trees that sprout from the roofs of the temple buildings.
Also on top of Phnom Bok are two pieces of artillery, presumably left there by the Khmer Rouge. The shocking thing about these pieces of artillery is their newness. They are not like material left over from World War I, rusted into monuments. The rubber tires are shiny and hard. Oil drips from gaskets. Grease coats the bearings. Cyrillic writings stands out sharply on the dials, and a ghostly crosshair is visible on the thick piece of untarnished glass in the sight.
By cranking the handwheel on the right side of the gun, I could sweep the five-foot barrel across the horizon. By cranking the handwheel on the left, I could change the barrel's angle of inclination. With a local child as my co-gunner, I stayed for a while on this bizarre piece of playground equipment, taking aim over the countryside.
From journal Cycling through Southeast Asia: Cambodia
January 13, 2003
Angkor Wat, the Great Temple, encompasses a full square mile and is said to be the largest temple complex in the world. Its three spires--shaped like elongated pineapples--are seen on postcards, in TV travel films, and on travel posters the world over.
Begun in the early 1100s, my guidebook said, Angkor Wat took 37 years and the labor of some 25,000 men to complete. And, though what’s now known as Cambodia is a Buddhist country, Angkor Wat was built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. (Hindus and Buddhists, I’m told, have long co-existed peaceably in this part of the world. Indeed, according to my guide, the 12th-century Buddhist kings wanted a place of worship for their loyal Hindu subjects.)
On first approaching Angkor Wat, I thought, "IT’S NOT AS BIG AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE." Then I realized: though I was standing on the edge of the moat surrounding it, the temple itself was still more than half-a-mile away, at the end of a long causeway. It wouldn't be until the next morning, as my guide and I walked toward it, that I would appreciate its true size.
Guide Son Bunny wisely approached Angkor Wat from the rear, east side, to take advantage of the morning sun. Even from behind, the famous triple spires were clearly recognizable. Entering the temple required ascending ramps of 20-25 degrees, without handrails but wide enough for all but the most balance-impaired. We found ourselves at the junction of two long, massive corridors, 8-10 feet wide, between the inner and outer walls. Negotiating them required climbing, or stepping over, stone steps up to 15-16" high. Fortunately, my guide had considerable experience in assisting mobility-impaired visitors, and he urged me to explore several passages I might not have attempted on my own.
Good thing! Many of them opened into the temple’s inner courtyards, where one could watch the caretakers and monks at work. And, the main corridor of the lower gallery was festooned with ancient bas-relief art, much like the temples at Luxor and the Elephant Terrace at nearby Angkor Thom. Within the temple were several small shrines where locals often come to meditate.
You’ll need to buy a pass to enter the Angkor Wat complex by car. We paid, I believe, US$20 for a two-day pass. You’ll need the better part of a morning for the main temple itself. You’ll probably want to return to your hotel for a mid-day break: it’s only a 15-25 minute drive.
Allow about three hours for an afternoon tour of Angkor Thom, Tap Rohm, and other nearby attractions. This should put you back at the west portal of Angkor Wat in time for a sunset view--but be prepared for crowds.
"Angkor Wat," my reference booklet said, "represents the high point of Khmer architecture." I’m convinced--except, possibly, for Angkor Thom.
From journal Cambodia: Angkor Wat and Big Brother Thom