CAMBODIA – TEMPLE HOPPING

Cambodia – Temple Hopping

Of all the places I visited during my Southeast Asia trip, Siem Reap stole my heart. Exploring the Angkor temple ruins was truly an unforgettable experience and one outside of my comfort zone. Personally, I prefer concrete jungles to green ones and often don’t take the time to enjoy nature. Siem Reap though, was breathtaking. Despite blazing sun and the possibility of poisonous snakes, each temple we visited wowed me with their architecture and engineering. I also enjoyed learning about the Khmer empire and seeing the shift from Hinduism to Buddhism in the temples.

The Hubby and I spent 2 and a half days temple hopping in Angkor Archaeological Park with our certified guide and private driver. Other transport options include by tuk-tuk or bicycle. I would highly recommend hiring a guide from the Cambodia Tourist Guide Association. Licenses guides had a uniform and have spent time training with UNESCO and the Ministry of Tourism. Our guide was friendly, soft spoken and very knowledgeable. I won’t go into the history of the Khmer empire because it’s not my specialty. I did find skimming through the Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_Empire) page helpful before visiting each country to get a sense of the history and culture.

Tips

  • – Bring plenty of water, a hat and if necessary a UV umbrella. Many of the temple sites were cleared of trees and the sun can be intense.
  • – For some temples (including the upper level of Angkor Wat), visitors need to have covered shoulders and knees. For us, I had a white, light knit cardigan and we bought two pairs of the pants being sold at any street vendor. This was a good cheap, easy solution as we hadn’t packed any long pants for the trip.
  • – Take your time and make a list, there are literally hundreds of temples to see in the 400m2 park.
  • – Go early, the park opens at sunrise and to avoid the tour buses of tourists, try to visit the more popular parks in the morning and aim to be back at your hotel by 2pm to rest and avoid the hottest hours of the day.
  • – Hire a guide, they’re well trained and I learned so much about Khmer history. At only ~ $20 USD/day, our guide added so much to our time in Siem Reap.
  • – Be respectful. Some of the temples are still active and in use by Buddhist monks.
  • – Don’t wander off, stick to the path unless your guide tells you it’s ok. Some more remote temples have only recently been cleared of landmines.

These are the temples we visited:
Rolous Temples – Made up of 3 structures, Preah Ko, Bakong and Lolei. Built in the late 9th century
Banteay Srei – Built in the 10th Century, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Angkor Thom City – Capital city of the Khmer empire, 4 elaborate entrances into the city from each cardinal direction.
Bayon Temple – Built the late 12th or early 13th century, most well-known for the many depictions of smiling Buddha of all sizes. Located inside Angkor Thom
Angkor Wat – Siem Reap’s most well-known temple, the largest religious monument in the world and almost entirely intact/restored. Built in the 12th century.
Ta Prohm – Built the late 12th or early 13th century. Trees have grown back over the temple and around the stone bricks. This was the temple featured in the Tomb Raider movies with Angelina Jolie.
Beng Mealea Temple – Still much restoration work to be completed, much of the temple is still collapsed. Fewer tourists visit this temple and it was very scenic and calm.

Cambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple Hopping
Cambodia – Temple Hopping
Cambodia – Temple Hopping
Cambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple HoppingCambodia – Temple Hopping