Travel Siem Reap and the Ancient Temples of Angkor Wat

It’s Travel Tuesday, and I’m fortunate to share a wonderful guest post from Imogen Reed. Imogen is a freelance writer who graciously volunteered to share her Cambodian travel experiences, which works great as the new job has me pretty tied up. I apologize for any sporadic posting this week, but I promise it’ll improve after I get into the groove of things here. Enjoy!

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Siem Reap (Angkor Archaeological Park), Cambodia

Siem Reap and the Ancient Temples of Angkor Wat

Arriving in Phom Penh was a bit of a shock. The heat, the traffic, and the endless barrage of touts surrounding the lake area put me off sticking around too long. I had to find somewhere to go, something to do that would inspire me to stay in Cambodia longer. I knew the capital city was not the place to get a real understanding of the country, so I branched out and considered what other options I had. Beaches to the south in Sihanoukville, boat rides along the Mekong River to the east, and temple exploring near Siem Reap to the east. Resisting the urge to take a last minute cruise down the Mekong River, I booked a ticket on a bus east in the hope of finding adventure in the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.

Travelling in style

6 a.m. and I’m outside my hotel waiting for the coach. Well, what I thought would be a coach. Instead 20 minutes later a tin can of a minibus spluttered to a stop outside the lobby and I hear my name called in an almost unrecognisable accent. This must be me I thought in dismay, and clambered aboard the rickety old bus. Crammed inside were other tourists and some local guys hitching a ride for free. Hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable are the most pleasant words I can think of to describe the 8 hour journey, but luckily the locals kept me entertained with their song singing and general jolliness, which wasn’t shared by the other tourists on the wagon.

Sampling local delicacies in Siem Reap

Arriving at Siem Reap was a relief, and I wasted no time in finding a place to stay and arranging a trip to the temple. I was spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a guide, and it seemed that everybody was one, or knew one. I went with a guy called Eddie. Ok so that wasn’t his real name, but who was I to judge. It was only later that I found out his full name was apparently Eddie Murphy, but by then it was too late.

With an evening to kill I hit the streets. After a bit of wandering around, I realised that there were some pretty nice places in Siem Reap. Everybody comes here for the Angkor Wat temple, but Siem Reap has plenty of attractions of its own. The Old Market, called the ‘Psah Chas’ by the locals, was by far the busiest, with tourist and locals alike bustling through the narrow alleys between stalls. The different smells of exotic food being cooked drifted through the air, along with the sounds of chattering between traders selling all sorts of souvenirs. I had to try something before I left, so I asked one guy for a ‘Cambodian speciality’. He gave me something called Prahok, which unfortunately for me was a type of fermented fish paste. Well I had to try it, but I couldn’t finish. At that point I cut my losses and headed back to my hotel to prepare for the next day’s temple exploring.

Expecting to be amazed at Angkor Wat

Siem Reap (Angkor Archaeological Park), Cambodia

Up before sunrise and aboard my tuk-tuk with Eddie behind the wheel, I was excited. Eddie had told me the temple looks magnificent at sunrise, so we sped towards Angkor Wat to try and avoid the crowds. But it seemed everybody else had the same idea. Huddled in a group of around a hundred or so, we all waited, cameras at the ready, for when the sun would peak up over the horizons to light up the towers of the Angkor Wat temple. I can’t lie, the sunrise wasn’t quite as spectacular as Eddie had made out, but I was surprised once I started wandering around the temple. The intricate carvings of Hindu gods and its enormous size were pretty impressive.

After a few hours of walking around the huge temple complex, I stumbled back to the tuk-tuk and slumped in the back seat. Eddie soon began chirping away about how the temple was built in the 12th century, was the Cambodian national symbol, and other interesting facts that I had trouble absorbing. After a short drive around some of the other temples, viewed from the back seat of the tuk-tuk, lunch was on my mind, and Eddie soon found us a place to eat.

Talking to an American couple visiting the site I found out that there are over a thousand individual temples surrounding the magnificent Angkor Wat temple, an some experts believe around a million people could have once lived in the areas surrounding the temple. They told me they would spend the week looking at each temple, which I thought was a bit keen. I bid them good luck, and with no intention of looking at a thousand temples, I asked Eddie if he knew a good place to get a beer. So off we went, back to Siem Reap and to a bar called ‘Angkor What’ on the fittingly named Pub Street. Slightly disappointed with the apparently amazing Angkor Wat temple, luckily the price of the beer inspired me to stay in Cambodia a little longer.

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Thank you, Imogen, I appreciate you stopping by!

Have you ever seen Siem Reap and the ancient temples of Angkor Wat? If so, tell me about it in the comments. If not, where would you love to travel?

If you liked this post, I invite you to read Men Making Decisions Regarding Women’s Health??? or others in the archives. Before you go, please subscribe to this blog through the available RSS options or via email. I’d be grateful if you took advantage of the sharing buttons located at the bottom of the post, and if you enjoy this blog, please click the “like” button to the right for my Facebook page. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my posts.

Feature images courtesy of Flickr via Creative Commons. 

 

 

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24 Comments

  1. I have never been to Asia, but I would love to travel there. Right now, I hope to see the wild horses of Langeland again! Yep, I am back in Denmark!

    • Ingrid, I hope you and the Viking have safe travels. Can’t wait to see the posts and pictures!

  2. Stunning pictures, stunning writing, Thank you Imogen, Thank you Amberr. This is one of the places that I would dearly love to travel to whilst I’m in this neck of the woods :)

    • Lottie, me, too. Halong Bay is also on the list of Asia travels.

  3. Another place for my bucket list!

    • Dee, my bucket list is overflowing ;-)

  4. I have never been to Cambodia, but these descriptions make me want to go!

    • Maria, you and me both!

  5. Ahhh! it’s been a while since I’ve opened my WordPress account! I miss reading through your travel tuesdays. Somebody should make a write up about the Philippines and the awesome places we have too!

    • Josh, maybe you could come up with a great travel post about the Philippines since you will have the best firsthand accounts ;-)

  6. I’m digging Travel Tuesdays… It’s like taking a vacation without ever leaving. Beautiful photos and nice write up Amberr!

    • Tony, I am so glad you’re enjoying. It is my favorite day of the week, no doubt. ;-)

  7. This is wonderful. I have made it to Thailand, but never got across the border to Cambodia or Laos – two places I would truly love to visit. Your photos and prose and wonderful here, Imogen, and it looks and sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing:)

    • Imogen did very well, didn’t she, Jane? You should consider doing a Thailand travel post. No pressure, though. Hehe!

  8. Great post! Just one more place to add to my growing list. I love the way you describe your trip, Imogen.

    I’ve been on a Europe kick for the last few years. Going to Spain and Portugal this summer. Visited Belgium, Germany and Switzerland last summer. Definitely need to get to Asia very soon, I’ve never been.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh, Lori, what awesome adventures. I do hope you’ll be blogging about them :-)

  9. Oohh. We’ve just spent 3 days in Siem Reap and are off to Phnom Pehn today (and I should be packing right now!! The sunrise was certainly not as exciting as expected but we visited 7 other temples on the same day and they are just AMAZING!! And we saw people riding elephants. I thought my 10 year olds eyes were going to pop out!! Imogen did a great job of bringing this all to life! If you come here remember to barter for EVERYTHING. Some prices here are the same as at home! (well not the real prices – just the first price!!). And Cambodian children will melt your heart!!

    • *taking notes* Barter for everything, read Tracey’s blog first. Got it!

  10. Ooh Angkor Wat is on my bucket list too :D I booked a trip there and arranged everything including a helicopter ride tour for my ex boss last year and I was so envy hahaha. Great post!

    • Maureen, the boss could have been nice enough to let you come, too. So unfair! ;-)

  11. Angkor Wat is the most famous, the most majestic temple of Angkor’s site. It is such a great place for which travelers would totally appreciate it. Angkor Wat temple represent one of humankind’s most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements.

    • Pediatrics doctor, I can’t wait to one day check it all out.

  12. I am going to Cambodia on September this year. Besides Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam are also listed to be visited. But still I have a question about a hotel you might have seen during your visit in Siem Reap. I booked the following hotel: Tara Angkor Hotel. You know if it is a good hotel? I heard good stories about it. What are the best attractions to visit in Siem Reap and in the surrounding?

  13. I read your message and wanted to help you, because I have been in Siem Reap a lot of times. The Tara Angkor hotel is a beautiful hotel and is ideally and conveniently located, Tara Angkor Hotel is situated only 6 km from the Angkor Wat Temples, 15 min drive from the Siem Reap International Airport, a few minutes stroll to the Angkor National Museum and a short ride to the city town center with an array of Cambodian souvenirs, shopping and culture. They have a few promotions that you can make use of if you haven’t booked already: Last minute bookings, summer sales, early bird promotion or Angkor temptations. Of course there are a lot more, but have a look at their website. It is not that far to the Angkor temples that I would advise you to see for sure. I would say, grab yourself a 3 day pass and find yourself a decent tuk tuk driver to take you to the farther ruins and for a drive in some of the outlying villages. If you’re up for it consider renting a bike and checking out Angkor Wat on your own. There’s a lot to see and do so a lot depends on your time and budget. A few temples I would strongly suggest you check out besides Angkor Wat itself are Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom and of course Ta Prohm just to see the amazing tree. The Banteay Srei temple is farther out of Siem Reap but has a very different feel than a lot of the others. If you want to do something else as well, you can visit the day and night market. I can really recommend these attractions. If you need to know more, let me know.

Your thoughtful comments are love to me. Thank you!

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AMBERR MEADOWS

WHO AM I?

I’m an Atlanta, Georgia Social Media Manager, blogger, writer, and brand ambassador with a passion for travel, photography, social media, blogging, creativity, and great books. I'm a thinker, dreamer, lover, and compassionate soul. Expect a heavy dose of humor lightly sprinkled with sarcasm. Welcome!

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