I recently went to my most anticipated part of my trip, visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia and I loved it!
I stayed at a lovely Hostel called Siem Reap Backpacker Hostel for $4 a night with a swimming pool which was perfect for the humid city heat. In total I stayed for three nights, which in my opinion is more than enough to cover Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat Temples. Now most of you will want to do the sunrise tour and I couldn’t recommend it enough. The early morning start not only stops you from suffering too long in the sun but it also lessens the crowds as you walk around to other temples.
Here are a few things I wish I’d known before I went..
Flies are EVERYWHERE.
Now this experience may only happen when you go during rainy season. I was there at the end of May so just the start of Rainy Season and the flies are not a joke. I was constantly having to swat my legs and wave my hands across my face to stop them from invading my personal space. Now I don’t usually mind insects but during my travels I have grown to hate flies so being badgered by them constantly really disrupted my experience. So if you are a fly hater like myself, I’d say cover your arms and legs so you don’t feel them as much.
Cover your shoulders and knees!
If you are a woman, please respect the country’s traditions that you are in and cover yourself up. I’m sorry ladies but its out of tradition and respect for the locals that going to Angkor Wat in shorts and a vest is just outright rude and the amount of people that get turned away because of it is laughable. It says it everywhere and yet people still buy tickets and then weren’t allowed in certain areas. Be prepared that if you buy a ticket at the ticket station in shorts and vest, this does not mean that they will let you in all areas of the temples. Some security will demand you cover up before entering. So do yourself a favour and just wear some nice loose trousers and bring a scarf with you to cover the shoulders up.
Be mindful of the child vendors
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the painfully skinny children who approach you with magnets and bracelets asking for money in exchange for crappy quality merchandise. DO NOT BUY OFF THEM. I know it gut wrenching to see these kids all softly begging you for money but please try to ignore them. If you see kids approaching you and say “Hello Ladyy” Turn the other way and don’t give them attention. The moment you do.. they will become relentless. You will have crowds of children following you expecting them all to receive money from you and it will really break your heart having to turn all those puppy dog faces away.
Try and find a good English Speaking Tuk Tuk Driver
The last thing you want is to have some communication difficulties with your driver whilst you’re touring the Temples. I would definitely recommend you do some research on the tuk tuk drivers available in the area. Have a chat with them before hand. Ask them a few questions about it, if they seem to know their stuff I’d definitely say pick them rather than a random Tuk Tuk driver. It’ll expand your experience ten fold. My Driver knew great English and he even took me to an area where there were monkeys and showed me some monkeys and how every time he tours the temples he brought mangoes to them so they all ran to him and climbed over him whilst he was feeding them mangoes. It was pretty adorable. He offered me to feed them too but I was too scared if I’m honest. Was still cool none the less!
The earlier you go to the other temples, the quieter it’ll be
Now hear me out on this one. EVERYONE goes to the main temple to watch the sunrise. Now my suggestion is- go see the sunrise, take your quick snaps and then leave to see the other temples before everyone else does. You’ll be in front of most people so you’ll be nearly the only ones there in each other temple. If you feel like you wanted to see the other temple in more depth and for longer then just go back! The Tuk Tuk driver is paid for the DAY just ask him to take you back on your way out and then you’d have seen everything crowd free and got your sunrise snaps.
I did this and I got to see one of the temples before it had even opened. The security let me through half an hour before it was opening and it was breath taking. To be able to walk through to halls in complete silence. To know that in the entire building you were the only soul. It was magical and definitely beat being pushed and shoved around by the hundreds of crowds trying to take the same picture as you.