There are few travel experiences that remain etched in our memories with such clarity and fondness. The magical time I spent exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park in Cambodia is one such experience. Picture waking up in the early morning, enveloped in thick fog. Imagine hopping into a tuk-tuk with your partner, arriving just as the first rays of the sun kiss the horizon. And then, standing before the spiraled towers of Angkor Wat, feeling a sense of awe and wonder wash over you.
Visiting Angkor Wat is like discovering the keys to another world, just for a moment. It’s as if, like the characters in C.S. Lewis’s famous novel, you have stepped through a wardrobe and into a realm of mystery and ancient grandeur.
What is Angkor Wat anyhow?
Angkor Wat is the crowning jewel of the Angkor Archaeological Park—a testament to the architectural prowess of the Khmer people. Built in the 12th century as the capital for King Suryavarman II, the city of Angkor covered over 400 kilometers, making it the largest pre-industrial city in history. Its population may have reached one million, but the fate of this vast empire and its people remains a mystery to archaeologists.
It’s important to note that the park shouldn’t be seen as a collection of temples lost in the jungle. It was a thriving, interconnected city, with the temples serving as a vital part of its complex infrastructure.
When is the best time to visit Angkor Wat?
November to February is the ideal time to visit Angkor Wat. During these months, the weather is pleasant, with mild temperatures and no rain. However, be prepared for more tourists during this period.
For the ultimate experience, arrive at Angkor Wat before sunrise. Most visitors stay in the nearby town of Siem Reap, so set your alarm and get ready for an early morning tuk-tuk ride. The sunrise at Angkor Wat is truly awe-inspiring and not to be missed. Remember, fatigue is temporary, but the memories and photographs will last forever.
What should I wear to Angkor Wat?
Dress respectfully when visiting Angkor Wat. Ensure your clothing covers your shoulders and knees, preferably light and comfortable. With the sun shining brightly, don’t forget to wear a hat and good-quality walking shoes. It’s also a good idea to bring a thin raincoat, as weather conditions can be unpredictable.
What are the must-see sights?
If you’re short on time, prioritize the following sights:
- Angkor Wat itself: Experience the iconic sunrise and explore the magnificent temple.
- Angkor Thom and Bayon Temple: Marvel at the impressive smiling faces and grand architecture.
- Ta Prohm Temple: Witness the harmonious blend of nature and man-made structures.
These locations will leave you awe-struck and provide ample opportunities for stunning photographs.
If you have more time, explore other hidden gems like Preah Khan and Ta Som. Venture further to Banteay Srei, a beautiful temple renowned for its red sandstone and intricate carvings. These lesser-known temples offer a quieter and more intimate experience.
What can you do in Siem Reap?
Siem Reap is not just about Pub Street and vibrant nightlife. It’s a place to dive into the rich flavors of Cambodian cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor local delicacies like Fish Amok and Lap Khmer. Siem Reap is also a gateway to the Tonlé Sap Floating Villages, where you can discover the unique lifestyle of the locals living on stilted houses.
While in Siem Reap, consider catching a performance at Phare, a captivating circus that recounts Cambodian stories through dance, theater, and live music. Visit the Angkor Silk Farm, explore local villages and monasteries, or even try your hand at a cooking class.
Unlocking the Mysteries of the Past
Angkor Wat is a place that transcends imagination. Its ancient temples have stood the test of time, in stark contrast to the fleeting skyscrapers that dominate modern skylines. Exploring this awe-inspiring site is an opportunity to connect with history and witness the enduring legacy of the Khmer civilization.
So why not embark on your own adventure and experience the wonders of Angkor Wat? Discover the enchantment that awaits within the Angkor Archaeological Park. Plan your trip with Ekilove and unlock the mysteries of an ancient city.
Image credits from top to bottom: Intrepid Travel x5, Chris Mitchell, Intrepid Travel, Chris Mitchell, Intrepid Travel x3.