We spent a total of 15 hours over 2 days visiting the sites of about 10 different temples. This is the beginning of a travel story even I’m bored in the telling so when I return home and can sort out pictures from my new camera, I’ll let them tell it in their 1000 words worth way.
Just a few tips for travelers planning to visit Angkor Wat:
- Out of respect, your knees and shoulders should be covered because these are Hindu and Buddhist temples.
- The ground is uneven and the steps are steep, plan footwear and gear accordingly.
- The sun can be brutal, a wide brimmed hat or ajuma (Korean mom) umbrella aren’t as touristy nerdy as they sound.
- You can bike or go by hired tuk-tuk–you can negotiate the price the day before through your hotel so that the driver can recommend a route. Going by bike sounds cool and all DIY, but the temples are far apart, the temps can be in the 90s and the seats may not be the most comfortable. Plus some temples start at one end and after you walk through them, your tuk-tuk driver meets you at the other end. Fabulous for timing as you will spend more time finding those artsy photo angles than you anticipate.
- When you get up at 4 am for the sunrise photo, you will not be alone. Stake out a spot early. My nikon cool pix was like bringing a knife to a gun fight, as I was surrounded by tripods and thick protruding lenses. But a record of my presence at Angkor Wat at dawn has been recorded.
- Window, door and tree root photo ops require patience so when you request that someone take your group shot, it’s fun to offer the return favor.
- Lara Croft Tomb Raider recreations are not as effortless to simulate as you might think.
- You will be surrounded by people with goods to sell in nooks and crannies of the temples and at the beginning and end of each stop. The cold water is a given. What will strike you is the number of school-aged children with rehearsed lines, “Lady, where you from? You want postcard / bracelet / so pretty (colorful hand made craft) –1, 2, 3, 4, 5…” The children will trail you and break your heart. We took to looking for a mother figure, making eye contact, and then offering the children a snack of dried fruit or nuts. This distraction was enough for us to continue after a friendly goodbye.
- You think you will tire of the temples. You think they will start running together. You think, “Let’s just go through this one real quick.” But then, as you turn a corner or enter a doorway, “Wow…” Snap. Snap. Snap. “Maybe from this angle…”