For anyone consumed by wanderlust, I highly recommend a visit to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. After all, it consistently tops the list of must-see destinations in the world!
After we got married, one of the first books hubby purchased for us was “1,000 Places to See before You Die.” I must admit, we both love to travel and that common interest is one of the key reasons why despite our huge difference in personality and culture we have such a strong bond. Of course, I am certain it will not be possible for us to visit all the places recommended in the book but whenever we visit a new country – we take a quick look at it and see the travel highlights it features. Certainly, if you visit Cambodia – this is the top priority – a visit to the Angkor Wat complex.
Angkor Wat and its surrounds may be familiar to some of you as it has been featured in many films including Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones’ Temple of Doom. I haven’t seen the former but I vaguely remember seeing the latter. Of course, many magazines and news articles have also showcased this famous temple complex so it’s hard to miss. My sister and her friends have also visited Angkor Wat a few years ago and her exciting adventure and stories motivated me to visit it as well. When we got the chance to visit the Philippines about a year ago, we made sure we had a quick trip to Cambodia! I was so glad hubby and I did.
The Angkor Temples spread out to about 40 miles in northwestern Cambodia. It is believed to have been built during the first half of the 12th century and was the capital of the Khmer Empire. It took nearly 30 years to build and involved around 25,000 workers. Angkor Wat is the premiere attraction in the place though there are other complexes that are equally stunning though may not be as huge. The photo above shows portion of the causeway that you pass through before you enter the temple. This picture shows people coming out of Angkor Wat.
You expect Angkor Wat to be quite grand as it’s a major tourist attraction but despite what you may have seen in the movies or in magazines, nothing prepares you for its sheer majesty. At the outset I have to say my photos won’t do justice to the place! Because it is awe-inspiring, expect to battle with a huge crowd. But don’t worry there is a way to avoid them somehow – come early – as in at least 5:00 am. That’s what we did and we were greeted by a wonderful view of the sunrise. I am showing the progression from darkness to sunrise in the photo above and below.
I won’t elaborate much on history and all that as you can read that in travel books and for lack of space, too but I will simply let the photos speak for themselves.
We traveled to Angkor Wat and its surrounds using the regular transportation from Siem Reap (a Tuk Tuk) but you can certainly do it in style like riding a hot air balloon!
After Angkor Wat, we rode on our Tuk Tuk again and asked our driver to bring us to Ta Prohm, for me the best of the Angkor complex. This is probably the most evocative of all the monuments as it’s certainly dramatic, magical, eerie and surreal all at the same time! The sight is quite astonishing – visions of courtyards and terraces, shrines and pavilions engulfed and almost consumed by the forest with its giant trees towering over them. Enjoy the sights below.
Just to give you an idea on how massive these trees are.
Hubby and me really dwarfed by the tree!!!
Quick stop for a photo – a kind stranger obliged to take one for our souvenir.
For our final leg (we were only there for a day so it was impossible to visit all), we went to Angkor Thom the site of the Bayon – quite a mysterious looking temple with its ruined towers carved with giant images. This is the entrance to the Bayon.
You may have to exert a little effort to reach this as some stair climbing is required.