Like most travelers, Angkor Wat in Cambodia had been on my bucket list for ages, and I had definitely hoped to finally check it off while I was living in Hong Kong. My hopes materialized! I had one weekend free right before my final exams (which you couldn’t study for), and a friend from home that was living in Kuala Lumpur told me she’d planned on going with some of her coworkers. I booked my ticket (within a time span of two minutes) and was on my way!
Surprisingly, I liked Cambodia a lot more than Vietnam. Although, I know many people who feel the exact opposite way, so it’s either personal preference or might depend on your specific experience. Personally, I found the people in Cambodia to be a lot more friendly.
In Siem Reap, we visited the basic temples that most people go to: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm.
Angkor Wat is the main temple most people have heard of. Prior to traveling to Siem Reap, some people told me that it was overrated and that I could skip it – but after going, I couldn’t disagree more.
While we were told that Angkor Wat was the major monastery of the Khmer empire, Angkor Thom was the capital city. Most of the famous images from Angkor Thom come from the well-known Bayon Temple, with its vast carvings of Buddha built right into the architecture.
A lot of the famous images of Angkor Wat of the overgrown trees are actually from Ta Prohm, which is also famous as the location for filming Tomb Raider.
I don’t know if it was the time of day, or if Ta Prohm is always like this, but it was super crowded with tour groups and for that reason alone, it wasn’t my favorite place. Also, as you can see in my sub-par photos above, the lighting while we were there was pretty shitty, and that made me mad.
Something I knew I wanted to see in Siem Reap was the sunrise at Angkor Wat. It seemed like a thing and I’d seen some really beautiful photos of people who’d done it, plus heard stories of it being a really peaceful and unique moment.
I made arrangements with my hotel to be picked up at 5 am by tuk-tuk to head over to the temple complex. It is kind of funny to see the tuk-tuk traffic lining up at the temple entrance, but at the same time be in awe that you’re in the middle of a completely dark jungle in Southeast Asia, even if you’re not alone.
The tuk-tuks all have a drop off point and you’re on your own to find your way into the temple (although you’ll be just fine following the crowd) and find a spot to watch the sunrise.
Personally, I preferred to walk around and see a few different vantage points, but I think I’ll do a separate post on that.
The city of Siem Reap is pretty cool in its own right. There are numerous night markets which will keep you occupied at night, and lots of places to relax and enjoy a foot massage after a long day of temple hopping.
We stayed at the Lynnaya Urban River Resort, and I’d highly recommend it to others. It has a great location, great facilities and really wonderful staff. No matter where you stay in Siem Reap, though, I’d highly recommend somewhere with a pool. After a long day of temple hopping and sweating profusely in every inch of your body, a dip in a pool is just heavenly and everything the doctor ordered.
While I just had a few days in Siem Reap, there are other places in Cambodia I’d love to return to visit including Phnom Penh, Si Phan Don, Sihanoukville and Koh Rong.
Have you ever been to Siem Reap or Cambodia? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!