Angkor Wat Stories and Tips

Introducing Angkor Wat

===Introducing the Mighty Angkor===

Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage site, located close to Siem Reap in Cambodia and we were lucky enough to visit earlier this year. The city of temples combines together to make it the largest religious site in the world and you can see why even before you get there; any map of the 400 square kilometre site will give you a sense of the importance and significance of the place. Apparently it was home to over one million people back when London was city of only 10,000 people.

The site fulfils a number of criteria that give it the UNESCO status, but mainly it is the fact that it contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Some of the remains are in a much better state than others, but when you consider that some of them have been standing for over 1200 years, they are all pretty impressive.

===Getting There and Getting Round===

Visitors to Angkor stay in nearby Siem Reap, which is a pretty nondescript city that has been built around the expected tourist industry. Getting to the city is easy by air or land and there are copious amounts of places to lay your head, suiting all budgets. The entrance to Angkor is about two miles from Siem Reap city centre and there are numerous ways of getting there and enjoying the sites.

You can rent a bike from a number of places in Siem Reap for just $1 per day and this includes a bottle of water. The bikes for a dollar probably aren’t comfortable enough for a full day so you can upgrade to the more expensive ones for $5 per day. To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Angkor on a bike because, whilst the ride there and around it would be very pleasant, I think the site is just too big to get round using pedal power. Also you have to consider the scorching heat and lack of protection that a bike offers. Finally, a lot of the temples have an entrance at one side and you exit at the other, which means that you will have to walk all the way back round to find your bike again.

A much better option is to get a motorised vehicle with driver, who can take you to the temples that you want to visit and will wait at the appropriate exit for you afterwards. You can do this is an air conditioned car for about $25 per day, but we opted for the much more fun and authentic tuk tuk, which cost us $15 for the day. Our driver spoke very little English, but with the help of a map and some inventive sign language, he took us everywhere we wanted and waited for as long as it took. He also provided us with chilled bottle water throughout the day. At the exit of the temples, there are literally hundreds of tuk tuk drivers waiting, but we didn’t have to wait for more than a minute at each exit before he was parked up in front of us. Not bad for someone who had only met us that morning!

You can buy tickets for one, three or five days depending on how many times you want to visit. We were only in the city for a couple of days, so opted for the one day ticket, which cost $20 per person. For that you get a little card with your picture on (which you must show everywhere throughout the day) and a map. We managed to get round everywhere we wanted to see in about five hours so a one day ticket is ample if you want to see the main sights and do a little bit of exploring. By the end of the five hours, we were boiling hot and all templed out. If you have more time than we did, I’d recommend getting a three or five day pass and visiting in shorter bursts rather than doing it in one go.

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