A Short Visit to Angkor Wat
Sometimes the world will change your plans. My initial plan was to stay in Cambodia for a full week. However, I changed it to only 3 days. I know most of you will be thinking, “3 days?! That’s definitely not enough time!” You are right; I wish I had more time. For me, there were 3 main things I wanted to do whilst visiting this beautiful country. They were Angkor Wat, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and The Killing fields. My reasons for this actually came from a group called ‘Global Degree.’ It is a group of inspiring travelers visiting every country in the world and creating episodes from each, which can be watched on Youtube. I was lucky enough to meet a couple of these guys whilst they were traveling Scotland and honestly, I was like a teenager meeting her famous celebrity crush! It was embarrassing!
I watched their episode from Cambodia and immediately said to myself, “this must be on my bucket list!!!” If you have a spare 10 minutes, go over to their Youtube channel and watch a couple of episodes. If they don’t make you want to travel the world, nothing will! I flew from Chiang Mai in Thailand across to Siem Reap to start off my Cambodia experience. I eventually got into my hostel at around 9 PM. I was exhausted but knew I had minimum days there, so I immediately got myself sorted. I checked into Siem Reap Pub Hostel and went straight down to the trip advisor they have located at the reception desk. We talked about Angkor Wat and the different offers/experiences I could do. Before I knew it, I had my Tuk Tuk booked at 4.30 AM to take me to Angkor Wat for sunrise the next morning.
A little tip for all you inexperienced travelers like me, 9 times out of 10, you can get this experience cheaper doing it yourself. Grab a tuk tuk from the street, tell them what plan you have and they will give you a set price which will no doubt be cheaper than any hostel will be. For a day pass to Angkor Wat, it was $20 (usd) and another $20 for my tuk tuk driver. Many drivers from the street will do it for half the price, and although you’d only be saving $10, every cent counts when traveling!
The sunrise itself was good, but honestly, I was expecting more. A lot of travelers will experience this; we build up this amazing image of what our plans are and what it will be like. I would honestly advise not to do that before coming to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. You’re setting yourself up to be disappointed at something which really is amazing because you can’t look past the image in your head! I walked around Angkor Wat for about 2 hours in awe of the fact I had made it all the way across the planet to my first Wonder of the World! Take some time when you are here to soak it all in. Also, finish the sunrise from inside the temple and really appreciate how lucky you are to be there. You will walk away feeling so grateful and peaceful for your day ahead.
I visited 5 different temples that morning, and honesty I can only remember one other name which was Angkor Thom. My take on this experience was once you have seen 2 or 3 of these temples, that’s enough for one day! Don’t over do it, especially if you are tired, hot and hungry! Another mistake by me – TAKE BREAKFAST!!! In each temple, there were monks offering blessings in exchange for a small donation. As you can all imagine, it was a complete tourist trap but if you are into it, definitely offer one and take the opportunity to be blessed. It’s all part of the experience!
There are also a lot of stalls outside each temple trying to sell souvenirs, t-shirts, food, etc. Again if you are into it, go for it. If you are like me and uninterested, don’t get annoyed and continue in towards the temples. My favourite temple was probably our last one. Our driver called it “Tomb Raider.” The places gives off a jungle vibe, with trees taller than buildings grown over the temple. It was really incredible! If you get the chance, definitely visit this one! My time through the temples ended around 12 PM. Angkor Wat is definitely something I would recommend to everyone traveling to Siem Reap, but one more tip – get there early to grab a good spot for sunrise. If you leave your hostel too late, you’ll be stuck photos full of tourists trying to grab that perfect, colorful and inspiring shot!